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Created in the Corridor: TSA Computer Lab

Members of the Girl Guards, a character building group, work on their badges in the Cedar Rapids Salvation Army's computer lab.

If you’ve ever had a computer lock up, run slow or not work at all, you know how frustrating that can be. After all, computers have become our go-to for practically everythingfrom leisure to learning to earning a livelihood. Now, an organization that meets so many needs in our community needs you to help upgrade what they’ve Created in the Corridor.

“I like it ‘cause I can come here and be myself, I guess. I’ve grown closer to all of these people,” shared Destiny Anderson, 15, of Cedar Rapids as she talked about the dozen young friends she’s made in the Girl Guards, one of three character building groups sponsored by the Cedar Rapids Salvation Army. The group’s volunteer leader, Amber Kinnison explained, “Some of (these girls) don’t have a lot of opportunities outside of basic school to be involved with a lot of things so for me that’s important for them to have the opportunity.”

The girls use the non-profit organization’s computer lab to earn faith-based fun and skill badges ranging from photo editing and cake decorating to planning a roadmap for their education. “Looking at colleges and what might be a good fit for them and what they might think they want to do in the future,” said Kinnison, who has been a Salvation Army mentor for three years.

A fellow Cedar Rapids member of the Girl Guards, Shyanne Howe, also 15, said she, too, gets a lot out of the group. “It’s actually given me more inspiration to look forward to the future, like figuring out what to do with life.”

But Shyanne and Destiny know that life could move a lot faster if they had new computers. “Our computers are slow so like it takes us a while to log in and load everything,” explained Destiny. “That takes time away from our badges work during the day because we only have a limited time on Tuesdays.”

Salvation Army Corps Officer, Major Paul Logan, told CBS2/FOX28 News that out of the ten refurbished computers in the lab, two of them don’t work at all. “The computers are three years old to us and beyond that they were older still. We did try to upgrade to Windows 10; those licenses are expired and they were slow (anyway) because it was just a different program. You know, it wasn’t built for windows 10 at that time.”

Kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from the Salvation Army’s computer lab. Social Worker and Community Family Advocate, Susanne Hoppes, recalls the success of her first of many adult clients. “She needed a job. She had no computer at home (and) she didn’t have access to (the) internet. And so I brought her down here, taught her how to use the computer and how to job search and within about 4-6 weeks she landed herself a job and it was all because of the computer program.”

Hoppes says adults use the lab not only to job search, but to study and do their taxes. So when you combine them with the 40 students in the Army’s youth programs, the lab is pretty active on a daily basis. “Yeah,” agreed Major Paul. “It’s important I think for not just kids but adults, as well, and we’re just trying to get up-to-speed you know?”

The Cedar Rapids Salvation Army needs to raise $12,000 this summer which would outfit the lab with all new hardware and software, plus a printer that they don’t even have right now. The goal is to make the new computers compatible with what the students use in school. We have a link to the Salvation Army’s website HERE.

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