Community Technology Centers Review
OCCCN Center Openings
by Marsha McDevitt-Stredney

This fall, the Ohio Community Computing Center Network (OCCCN) celebrated the openings of three community computing centers in Ohio. These centers, which are located in Cleveland and Toledo, complete the commitment by Ameritech-Ohio to open 14 community computer centers in Ohio to serve low-income neighborhoods. As with all of the other Ameritech funded centers located in Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Marietta, Toledo, and Youngstown these new centers will receive three years of funding totaling $150,000.

 The first of these final three to open is located in the Salvation Army Temple Corp in Cleveland, Ohio. Mayor Michael R. White is cutting the ribbon, accompanied by Jacqueline Woods, President, Ameritech, Dan Farslow, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Councilman Michael Plensek, and Major Joseph Pritchard, Salvation Army Temple Corps.

Permeil Dass is the center coordinator and has designed an environment that has an ISDN connection which enables simultaneous internet access through each of the 12 computer workstations in the center. The center offers a wide variety of courses in basic computer skills, introduction to Microsoft Word, after school programs, and internet training. Since this center is located in a major social service agency, which has a strong referral program, clients are accessed and placed within programs and courses that best suit their needs.

Also opening in Cleveland this fall was the West Side Community Computing Center. This center has a strong community partnership foundation involving more than 12 social service agencies, churches, development associations, and businesses. Included in this partnership is Bill Callahan and The Stockyard Area Development Association. The Stockyard Area Development Association is known throughout this community for their computer recycling ownership and training program. This center incorporates much of the vision of that program by offering courses and programs that empower the community with access to computer technology. Part of the driving force behind the programming for this center strives to go beyond training to teach computer literacy. This involves teaching children and adults more than just how to use programs but enables them to understand how computers work and how software is written.

 The Toledo Wayman Palmer YMCA's Community Computing Centers grand opening reception was held in conjunction with a re-opening celebration of their facility. Toledo Mayor Finkbeiner addressed the crowd.

The YMCA centers had just completed a major renovation and expansion project of their building and now have a daycare facility and community room.
 Michael Ashford, (photo on left) Executive Director of the Wayman Palmer YMCA, has put together an exciting educational program that includes Sue Goodman as the computer center coordinator and various career development courses offered at no cost to low-income community residents through Owens Community College.

In other OCCCN news, The Marietta Area Community Computing Center and the community computing center in the Youngstown Public Library have just entered into their third and final year of funding through the Ameritech grants. The Columbus Urban League (see photo) and Volunteers of America have just completed a very successful first year of funding. The North Education Center in Columbus, Akron Urban League in Akron, Akron Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Program, Toledo's BDPA Information Technology Center, Cleveland's Friendly Inn Settlement House, and Dayton's Edgemont Neighborhood Coalition continue to thrive and excel at offering open access and training to empower their communities through technology with the Ameritech grants.

OCCCN's membership has expanded to include several Media Access Centers (also known as public cable access stations), HUD supported sites, minority alcoholism outreach programs, and an ability center.

On October 10th, forty OCCCN members met in Dayton at the Edgemont Neighborhood Coalition for the Fall meeting. Seated in the photo (left to right) are Lisa Lockhart, Columbus Urban League, Missy Lodge, State Library Foundation, Gladys Harris, Friendly Inn, Cleveland, Ella Bogard, Marietta.

The day included an open dialog exchange of ideas for outreach, program development, fundraising, and issues associated with charging user and/or membership fees. There were presentations and discussion break-out groups learning about options for internet access, internet content issues, public policy, and an overview of the OCCCN strategic plan progress and new by-laws.

Open access hours at the Volunteers of America site (center coordinator Kathy Atkins is standing in aisle).

Community Technology Center Review, January 1998
Table of Contents