Kingsbridge Heights Community Center brings computers and art to the community

By DAVID GREENE

THE LATEST WORK by Kingsbridge Heights artist José “Base” Serrano depicting the Kingsbridge Armory can be seen in Summit Place and was unveiled on Sunday October 2, 2021.
Photo by David Greene

Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (KHCC) has partnered with TechFIN, a company that refurbishes old computers, and donated the first of 50 desktop computers to residents of the community, rather than sending them to landfill.

On Thursday, January 13, KHCC staff members were busy processing paperwork for residents who waited patiently in line, adhering to social distancing guidelines. Boxes of computers were then taken out of the centre, located at 3101 Kingsbridge Terrace in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood, and placed in the hands of waiting students and other members of the community who will use them for work, do their homework or chat with friends on social media.

During the distribution of the desktop computers, Margaret Della, CEO of KHCC explained to Norwood News, “These are computers that Tech Fin has acquired through various corporate donations, bringing together different companies to refurbish them and distribute them to the community.” According to TechFIN, the computers were donated by major companies like the National Football League, JetBlue and Pfizer.

Della continued, “We’ve identified families who need computer equipment in their homes, in addition to other needs like food insecurity or security, and that’s one of those things that’s so important. for how people are doing, so today we’re so excited to clear our IT equipment waiting list with the help of TechFIN. »

MORE THAN A dozen Bronxites wait on a social distancing line before receiving free desktop computers that were distributed by TechFIN at Kingsbridge Heights Community Center on Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Photo by David Greene

According to Della, pickup appointments were scheduled and spaced out “for COVID purposes,” to facilitate parents’ pickup times for their children who were in the center’s daycare program and for residents who were also visiting the daycare. to eat . Each computer included a monitor, hard drive, keyboard, mouse, and software.

Della added: “We anticipate that we will have a greater need as we continue to provide this service in the community, but it is definitely something that parents and community members have expressed a need for. [for].”

For residents who did not have internet access at home, KHCC assisted with applications to install discounted internet service through the federal government. They have also helped some residents in need with donated “private dollars” to help cover some of the cost of utility bills. The center also had KHCC Connect, the group’s IT team, to help new users connect their new devices and troubleshoot internet-related issues.

OVER A dozen Bronxites collected desktop computers from the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center on Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Photo by David Greene

Watching his organization’s computers being placed in cars and rolled down the street, John Valdivia of TechFIN said, “TechFIN, which is short for Technology for Families In Need, partners with non-profit organizations lucrative who really know the needs within the community. He added, “So TechFIN acquires computers and then works with nonprofits to find recipients who need them. So this is the first of many that we hope to do with KHCC in distributing these desktops.

Norwood News also spoke with Kingsbridge Heights resident Derrick Rumph, whose son attends the center. “We heard about this [computer giveaway] when we signed him up for summer camp, and they called us when they became available,” he said. The father added: “It’s a really cool thing to do. Now my child has his own computer for school.

Devin John from Harlem added: “My son will use it. He is in high school, so this will be good for him to use. He added: “I think it’s totally cool. I would like to know the detailed information about the whole program. It’s, like, just sign up and email them and they send you a batch number. It’s, like, so fast, so I really don’t know the story behind it.

OVER 50 newly refurbished computers were distributed to community members who did not have computers at home as part of a new program at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center on Thursday January 13, 2022. Photo by David Greene

According to instructions on the website of the Brooklyn-based organization TechFIN, “Millions of low-income families do not have access to a computer at home. This contributes to a growing digital divide, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to complete school work or… to apply for a job.

As previously reported, a somewhat similar tech program was started by a group of young tech-savvy people in the Bronx during the early months of the pandemic. A partnership developed between Union Community Health Center (UCHC) and a federal student-run nonprofit called Telehealth Access for Seniors (TAFS), which launched in March 2020.

With the shift to an online telehealth environment amid the pandemic and the growing need for then-isolated seniors to become more adept at using technology to keep their telehealth appointments, TAFS essentially filled the void by connecting people who, for whatever reason, could not afford to access telehealth services, with the electronic devices necessary to do so.

AT the ‘ART Lives at KHCC’ event held at Summit Place on Sunday, October 2, 2021 are (lr) Margaret Della, CEO of Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, MP Jeffrey Dinowitz (AD 81), Councilor municipal Eric Dinowitz (CD 11) and then councilor-elect Pierina Sanchez (CD 14).
Photo by David Greene

Students collected old or used smart devices from donors, while purchasing new devices through fundraising efforts. They then distributed the devices, which ranged from Amazon Fire 7 tablets to iPads and cellphones, to those who needed them, including the elderly. Additionally, they trained beneficiaries on how to use the devices to keep their telehealth appointments.

Meanwhile, in Kingsbridge Heights, KHCC’s free gift of 50 personal computers may well have been something of a curious twist of fate. When Norwood News attended another KHCC-sponsored event on October 2, 2021, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (AD 81) who was also in attendance, recalled his memories of the center, saying, “I remember this building when it was a police station, when I was a little child…”

He added: “When 50 Precinct moved to Kingsbridge Avenue, there was a group of women from that neighborhood who wanted to do something really good with that building, and that’s how the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center is. not.”

DURING THE UNVEILING OF THE MURAL at the “ART Lives at KHCC” event at Summit Place on Sunday, October 2, 2021, Councilman Eric Dinowitz (CD 11) and then Councilor-Elect Pierina Sanchez (CD 14) speak to the Kingsbridge Heights artist, José “Base” Serrano, (right).
Photo by David Greene

It was during this October 2 “Art Lives at KHCC” event that a “Together, We Rise” mural was unveiled. It was produced in collaboration with the Association for a Better New York and artist José “Base” Serrano, 39, a lifelong resident of Kingsbridge Heights. Serrano has a series of murals he calls “A Reflection of Time”, which spans Summit Place in Kingsbridge Terrace. His first, devoted to September 11and attacks, was completed in 2019, and the most recent, which is that of the Statue of Liberty, was completed just before the unveiling in October. The latter took Serrano six days to complete.

KHCC opened in 1974 and is a non-profit organization that provides thousands of Bronxite programs such as child care, literacy, mental health services, technology, arts and gardening. For more information on KHCC, visit their website at: https://www.khcc-nyc.org/donate. For more information on TechFIN, visit their website at: https://www.tech-fin.org.

*Síle Moloney contributed to this story

Jill E. Washington