New computer lab opens up possibilities for Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids

Ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Oct. 30

Children work at new computers in the new computer lab at The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids, 1000 C Ave. NW. Agency officials said the new computers replaced out-of-date computers and open up new possibilities for children and adults. (Submitted Photo)
A child tries out one of 10 new computers in a new computer lab at The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids, 1000 C Ave. NW. The new lab was dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 30. (Submitted Photo)
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new computer lab at The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids, 1000 C. Ave. NW, took place Oct. 30. The new lab features 10 new computers. (Submitted Photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Visitors to The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids now have a new computer lab to work with.

The Salvation Army unveiled its new lab during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 30 at their facility at 1000 C Ave. NW in Cedar Rapids. Lia Pontarelli, director of development and communications for The Salvation Army, said the new computer lab was a long time coming.

“The computers have been getting progressively worse over the years,” she said. “Last spring, we decided to focus on raising money specifically for new computers.”

Pontarelli said The Salvation Army has had a computer lab since 2008. It is mostly used by children in the summer day camp or character building programs, but Pontarelli said adults also use the computers to search for jobs, prepare their taxes or work on computer skills.

The Salvation Army engaged in fundraising for the new computers throughout the summer with a goal of $12,000. Pontarelli said numerous people and businesses made donations. Collins Community Credit Union sponsored the lab, which now bears its name, Pontarelli said.

Chad Feight, who joined The Salvation Army as program coordinator in September, said he was warned about the old computer lab when he started.

“I didn’t get a lot of use out of them,” he said of the old computers. “There wasn’t much we (could) do with them.”

Now, children who participate in the character building program will be able to use the computers after school, Feight said. He compared the character building program to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts in that participants earn badges by going online to research different topics.

Pontarelli said the 10 new computers are outfitted with G Suite, which allows children to access schoolwork saved online remotely from The Salvation Army’s lab.

With the lab now up and running, Pontarelli said The Salvation Army has high hopes for its impact on clients.

“Our goal is to allow more time on the computers for the children especially,” Pontarelli said. “Teaching them more of those computer skills so they’re prepared for when they’re getting out into the world. ... Also, working with more of our clients through our case managers and helping adults utilize it to further themselves.”

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