Free Geek: Working to close digital divide gains importance
Free Geek is seeing an unprecedented need for digital access and low-cost laptops from low-income families, people forced to telecommute and college students now learning online.
As Oregonians are being ordered to "stay home, save lives," many families lack basic access to a computer that would make working from home, continuing studies or getting vital health information possible.
In the past week more than 1,800 people have requested a computer from Free Geek and we've been able to get 600 computers out to those in need.
Free Geek is calling on corporations to donate technology so that folks can stay in place and keep their communities healthy. Individuals can continue to support the work of Free Geek by mailing in technology donations and monetary contributions to support the organization's work.
Although Free Geek currently is closed to the public, a dedicated skeleton crew is working hard to make sure each request gets the technology needed to stay connected during this shift toward at-home virtual communication. Without these technological devices, the divide between those who have computers and those who do not will make this crisis much worse.
"More than ever before, the digital divide is visible. It has always been there, but now it can't be brushed aside or fixed with temporary solutions. A huge amount of pressure is mounting for nonprofits that have been doing this work for years. We have the expertise to serve the community. We just need the financial freedom to take equitable action for those who are underserved."
To summarize, Free Geek hopes that you will consider:
1. Mailing in technology to 1131 S.E. 10th Ave., Portland OR 97214. In order to protect our employees, please do not drop it off in person.
2. Setting up a pickup time for large-quantity technology donations (companies, organizations, etc.).
3. Donating monetarily.
Free Geek has been serving the community for 20 years. The organization has become a key enabler for people to receive computers, technological literacy and many other invaluable skills. The organization asks the Portland community to help make sure those services can continue to be delivered to those in need.
Charlie d'Eve is the marketing specialist for Free Geek, a Portland-based nonprofit organization that serves Clackamas and Multnomah counties.
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