Mission: Our call to community service with this venture started with a 911 call from a quadriplegic needing help. An HCSO Deputy responded, the problem was solved, and a friendship was formed. The quadriplegic had as her only lifeline, and old computer that allowed her access to the outside world via the Internet. Carol, spent hours each day in cyberspace talking to, and counseling other spinal cord patients from all over the world. She was there and available for them anytime during the day or night, in her own way bringing hope to those less fortunate who were suffering from, and learning to cope with their spinal cord injuries. "Ladyquad" was making a difference in the lives of all she touched. And then her computer broke down, and it could not be repaired. She was so frustrated that her link to the outside world was suddenly cut off. She confided to her HCSO Deputy friend that she couldn't afford to buy a new computer. She needed a specially designed machine that would allow her to use it with her disability. This machine would cost two to three thousand dollars. This would be impossible to purchase on her small fixed income. But her Deputy friend "Took it to the troops". He put the call out and within only a few days, over a thousand dollars was raised from rank and file deputies in Hillsborough County. A local computer company agreed to build "at cost" a special needs computer for her.As a result, HCSO Deputy Steve McDermott, Officer Brent Meyers of the Tampa Police Department, and a representative of a local computer company, discussed what could be done with the additionally donated funds and computer equipment, and decided to form a volunteer charity group consisting of public safety officers of various agencies within the Tampa Bay area. This idea culminated in the formation of a not-for-profit charitable corporation comprised of public safety professionals and members of the computer industry. Their purpose is to cut through red tape and government bureaucracy, and to place computers "free of charge" into the homes of kids with special needs. The basic philosophy of our group is "Need not creed, every kid needs a chance to succeed". We all realized that in the ever changing and competitive computer driven society we live in, a kid without computer skills has two strikes against him before he or she even begins to try and succeed in life. We fully intended, and grounded our group in the philosophy of "Changing lives, one computer at a time". It is important to note that 100% of funds received, go back into the project. All usable computer equipment is distributed. We even build systems from parts of others. Each computer we put out in the community, that connects a kid to a world of enhanced possibilities in their lives, hopefully means one less kid that ends up in the criminal justice system. Since that time we have gone forward to become a strong and vibrant part of the community we serve. We have forged relationships with several community groups, like the P.O.I.N.T., Weed and Seed, Mad Dads, Inc., and partnered with CAPP, Inc., the Sun City Computer Club, and several large corporations, to provide cutting edge computer technology, free of charge, to the community we serve. We have greatly surpassed our initial modest goal of providing one computer a month to a needy child. Today, we are giving away between 15 and 20 systems a month, and have refocused our client base to include everything from kids in elementary school, to our seniors in nursing facilities. We have found that at any age, the quality of life of our clients is improved with access to computers and the internet.
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