The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic kept us as busy as ever through May. 10 weeks into the pandemic and we are still seeing up to 20 applications a week come in for equipment from non profit organizations and schools for equipment to support students without tech at home. We’re happy to work with several non-profit organizations to support more families than we could on our own, and continue our work with TELUS Internet for Good initiative.
In case you missed it, Our Executive Director Mary-Em Waddington recently went on the Recycling Council of BC Recyclepedia podcast. She talked about the growing student demand for refurbished computers during the pandemic.
Listen to the conversation: https://www.rcbc.ca/content/rcbc-recyclepedia-podcast
The increase in orders from the pandemic means that we are quickly going through our tech supplies, especially our laptops. Laptops are our most highly requested item because they come complete with the needed microphone, speakers and cameras needed for Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. Our stock of available laptops is becoming critically low. If you have a laptop to donate, we need to replenish our stock to continue helping BC students and families.
How to donate: https://www.reusetechbc.ca/donate.html
In May, we refurbished and sent out 390 laptops to schools, non-profits, libraries, and Indigenous communities. Our refurbished tech has gone to help some wonderful organizations including WorkLink Employment Society, Aunt Leah’s Place, Progressive Housing Society, and ISS of BC Burnaby.
Your Donations Matter.
Stay safe and healthy. Find gratitude. Stay at home.
After the crazy month that was March, we started to get back in the groove of our workflow. We temporarily closed the workshop in mid-March and reflected on the nature, and role of our work in Society. The effects of the of school and public library closures has amplified the need for the service we provide across BC.
Our Executive Director, Mary-Em Waddington, spoke briefly about the digital divide and how COVID-19 highlights the technology gap present within BC classrooms on CBC and with the Conversation Lab, noting "This is reinforcing the whole reality that so many families don't have access to technology and don't have access to Wi Fi in their homes," These conversations and working with a Burnaby Task Force reinforced our work as essential service.
We remained closed until April 20th working though new safety protocols and redesigning the workshop for social distancing. Then we got back to work in earnest and sent out 102 free refurbished laptops to local non-profits Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Port Renfrew Elementary, and Burnaby Association For Community Inclusion. Our next critical challenge will be safely securing new donations to replenish the inventory we are distributing. While we don’t know when BC students will be returning to school, we do know the 27,000 devices loaned by districts will be recalled and those students will be without tech again.
When things start returning to normal, we hope that this will lead to serious discussions about access to technology in BC.
Your Donations Matter
Changes to Our Donation Process due to COVID-19
We are currently accepting donations for computers and laptops in a revised manner to ensure we can follow health and safety procedures to protect our warehouse staff and technicians. The change includes asking donors to box or pallet their donation up, including their completed donor form and wait a week before bringing it over at an appointed time. Please contact Jim at 604-294-6886 ext 3 or DonorRelations@reusetechbc.ca to arrange an appointment for donations. This will reduce the number of touch points for staff and give time for any viruses or germs to die.
Other Workplace Changes
We have made several changes to our workshop procedures to create a safe working environment for our technicians. Some changes we have made include:
COVID-19 Policy for Staff
BC Technology for Learning has the opportunity to provide needed support to many families by providing refurbished tech. The current pandemic has, unfortunately, highlighted how important and necessary our work is to equalizing the playing field for those who have access to technology at home, compared to those who do not.
Our work is providing an essential service.
The purpose of this document is to best protect the continued health and safety of yourself, and your fellow team mates in the workplace. Each of us must follow the instructions.
Entering the workplace
1)Staff will enter the work place one person at a time, giving space to put personal effects in the locker and sign in. Then the next person can come in. Keep 2 metres apart from each other while waiting to come in.
2)After you have signed in, you will immediately wash your hands.
3)Begin work – Rob will assign work
Use of the kitchen
Use of the bathroom
If someone tests positive for COVID-19
Common Touch points to be wiped down at noon and before leaving include:
Kitchen - recycling / garbage lids, cupboard handles, sink faucet, coffee pot/ kettle/ toaster/ fridge /microwave handles. Wipe down counters.
Bathroom – toilet flusher, seat lid and ring, sink faucets, door handles, soap dispenser, all sides of the paper towel dispenser.
Workshop – time station, dollies, carts, ram cupboard doors/handles, desks, keyboards, mice, KVM switches, printer touch pad.
Warehouse – all (11?) dolly handles, pump jacks, cleaning stations, air compressor nozzle, monitor test station including keyboard, mice, cable ends), light switches, door handles, handrails to mezzanine, and loading bay door chain.
Alongside other changes to our usual working routine, we hope that these can help us create a safe working environment so we can continue to provide an essential service. The digital divide has been highlighted as a real issue over the past few weeks with schools turning to online education. Keeping our workplace open allows us to continue helping students and others in the community who otherwise do not have access to technology at home. Your donations matter now more than ever.
Thank you for your support for our work, and helping to keep our staff safe.
Every month we do an update on our activities to let our donors and clients know the impacts of our work delivering the CFS+ program.
March can be no different, even though everything about March was “different”.
BC Tech listened to the words of Dr. Henry and closed our office on March 20th. This was not an easy decision to make because the week prior saw a big influx of applications from families and non profit organizations as they prepared for what a “stay at home” order means for many without access to technology. Our work has not been deemed an essential service by government, and yet we know how essential it is to many people.
We heard Minister Fleming say that ~7% of students don’t have access to technology at home. We’re looking for partnership opportunities to assist school districts and organizations support their families in need. It’s easier for us to get one order of 30 computers out the door than it is to get 30 orders of one and time is better spent refurbishing, rather than packing.
In the short time we had in early March, we are grateful to have been able to:
Provide 503 computers/laptops to families and organizations like Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, Lookout Aid Society, TELUS health care workers, and Handy Circle Resources Society.
March was totally different and has marked the start of a new way for society to live and virtually interact, and still we must find gratitude for all the good things we have:
Stay safe and healthy. Find gratitude. Stay at home.
February has come and gone so quickly, even with the extra day for the leap year! We’ve been plenty busy this month with the return of the TELUS Internet for Good Initiative.
With our third run of the initiative, we’re looking to streamline and improve our process. We learnt a lot from the first time and want to make it easier for families to order computers from us. The survey we sent out shortly after completing the program last time really helped us identify the struggles people encountered when ordering. We got tons of helpful feedback and are so grateful to the people who took the time to fill out our survey.
We also started working to improve and upgrade our workshop! We’re starting with the workbenches that technicians use. Our Technical Supervisor, Rob, has been hard at work custom adapting features of the workstations including a backboard for mounted monitors. One of the main goals is to clear up more table space to give technicians more room to work. We will also be adding a ‘maker space’ table in the workshop as the types of devices are changing as we transition from desktop computers to more laptops, tablets, and phones. Stay tuned for more info on the progress!
In February, we sent 308 refurbished computers and laptops to schools, non-profits, libraries, and Indigenous communities. Some of our top donors for this month were City of Burnaby, Tritek Business Solutions, Traction on Demand, Trev Deeley Motorcycles, and Canada Revenue Agency. Their donations have gone to helping some wonderful organizations this month such as MOSIAC, Aunt Leah’s Place, Canucks Autism Network, and ISS of BC Surrey.
Your Donations Matter
It’s time for the first blog post of a new decade! January has come and gone super quick and has been a great start to 2020 for us. After coming back from our holiday break, we welcomed 3 new technicians to our team and had an in-service with Focus Professional Services about working alongside people on the autism spectrum.
We’ve also improved the layout of our Marketplace and are providing weekly updates! You’ll now find more tech such as printers, projectors and other miscellaneous items schools are eager to get, as well as a better sample of some of the available computers (our warehouse is 8000 sq. ft. – so it is just a sample). Be sure to keep an eye out for updates and order quickly. Some tech items like tablets and MacBooks don’t even last a day on the Marketplace!
In January, we sent 351 refurbished computers and laptops to schools, non-profits, libraries, and Indigenous communities to some wonderful organizations such as Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, The Centre for Child Development, 411 Seniors Centre Society, and Thriving Kids Care Society. We’re happy to support them as they support their clients have better tech access and digital learning skills. A big thank you to some of donors this month including ActiveCo Technology Management, TELUS, and Canada Revenue Agency. I think we’re the only people who are happy with the CRA comes to call.
Saving the best for last – the BIG exciting change is that after 26 years, the Computer for Schools program officially rebranded as the Computer for Schools Plus, or CFS+ . The reason for this change is to better communicate what the program is about and how it serves people. We do more than just computers and we help more than just schools. We’ve been accepting all kinds of tech donations and have sent tech to non-profits, libraries, and Indigenous communities in addition to schools and its important to reflect that in the name and marketing.
December was a short month for us because we took a well-deserved break over the holidays! Everyone worked very hard to ensure all our orders were shipped out before we went on break.
We especially wanted to finish as many computers as possible for the families who applied through the TELUS Internet for Good Initiative knowing those computers were going to be a Christmas present! To date, we’ve provided 529 computers and laptop to individuals and families. We also sent out a survey to participants to learn some demographic data and how to improve future programs. The information learned helps us to demonstrate the impact these programs have amongst families in BC.
"My son is 10 and thanks to the computer, he is teaching himself 2d and 3d animation as well as some programming"
"The computer gave me freedom for education, the ability to explore new things and a sense of self worth"
To celebrate our holiday break, we took all the employees to Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlor for some team bonding over delicious food. It was a good opportunity for everyone to chat and reminisce about how busy we’ve been throughout the year.
In December, we sent 462 refurbished computers and laptops to schools and non-profits. Some of our top donors for this month were City of Burnaby, Transport Canada, and Canada Revenue Agency. Their donations have gone to helping some wonderful organizations this month such as Vancouver Community Network, Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Childrens Arts Umbrella, and Thriving Kids Care Society.
We also said ‘good-bye’ to Seong as he finished his work term with us, and look forward to welcoming William, Aidan, and Vincent in January.
Happy New Year!
Our executive director, Mary-Em, went to Victoria to give some presentations about our organizations and donation opportunities to various Federal Government procurement officers. She also attended the Decoda Literacy Solutions conference and let them know about how their member organizations can utilize our refurbished computers in the community. We’re hoping to expand on our clients by reaching out to more organizations outside of schools like libraries to let them know more about us. If you know a non-profit organization that needs some new equipment, please share our good work with them – we’re here to help!
Aaron, one of our CFS interns, operated a Try-a-Trade booth at an event hosted by Skills Canada as part of National Skilled Trade & Technology Week. It was a great opportunity to give youth a chance to get some hands-on work with technology. The kids really liked pulling the computers apart and reassembling them. It was pretty neat to watch their faces react to seeing what the inside of an i-Mac looks like, it’s not something many people have seen!
The deadline for families to participate in TELUS’ Internet for Good Initiative came on Nov 30. To date we have shipped 524 computers and laptop to individuals and families. We’re looking to wrap up the remaining orders in the next few weeks and get them out before the holidays! We hope the computers make a family’s holiday great.
This month we’ve shipped 338 refurbished computers and laptops to schools and non-profits. Some of our top donors for this month were Canadian Revenue Agency, General Electric Renewable Energy, and TELUS. Their donations have gone to helping some wonderful organizations this month such as MOSIAC, Umbrella Health Coop Clinic, and ISS of BC.
Your Donations Matter
This October we brought back our “Scary Tech Facts” to share on social media. It was a lot of fun to create some educational posts to talk about the dangers of e-waste. If you missed out on them, you can find them on our Twitter feed
Aaron, one of our CFS Internship technicians, got a big learning opportunity this month by helping manage our booth at a Computer Using Educators conference. He experienced speaking with attendees, explaining how we refurbish tech and how schools can use equipment for classroom learning as well as tech clubs. As part of his CFS Internship, Aaron works on a wide variety of duties such as dismantling and fixing computers, installing operating systems, and wiping data. He’s also taken more of a leadership position through managing the Client Services role while Rob has been on extended vacation.
We’ve made some great progress as we near the end of the TELUS for their Internet for Good Initiative. So far, we have given 347 computers and laptop to individuals and families. Everyone needs a computer to be able to properly participate in today’s digital society so it’s great that we can be part programs like these to help people.
This month we’ve shipped 375 refurbished computers and laptops to schools and non-profits. Some of our top donors for this month were Capilano University, Metro Vancouver, TELUS, and Connor, Clark & Lunn. Their donations have gone to helping some wonderful organizations this month such as ELL Welcome Centre, Aunt Leah's Place, and ISS of BC.
Our Executive Director, Mary-Em, attended the National Computers for Schools meeting held in Yellowknife NWT. While there, we got a teaser about the new CFS+ identifier and logo which will roll out soon. We’re very excited for these changes because they better demonstrate the different ways we help people through refurbished tech. We refurbish more than computers, and support organizations than just schools. Our national program name needs to reflect this change from our inception in 1993.
The TELUS for their Internet for Good Initiative kept us quite busy during the summer and the phone was ringing constantly. To date we have distributed 277 computers and laptop to family homes. It’s been lovely to hear from people participating in the initiative, telling us how much they’ll benefit from their new tech and how it will affect their families, especially as many have kids in school.
We also shipped 508 refurbished computers and laptops to schools and non-profits. September means back to school, and we gave 353 computers to schools and students. Some of our top donors for this month were Telus, Raymond James LTD, UBC, and Aldergrove Credit Union. Their donations went towards non-profits like MOSAIC, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, and Children's Arts Umbrella.