Mother & Daughter Team Up to Build a Successful Future

Gwendolene & Tequila at Tequila’s graduation

It’s always interesting to hear how clients get referred to PCs for People because the answers vary so widely! For Gwendolene, a hard-working single mother, information about our program came across her desk at work. At the time, she was with a nonprofit organization called Northside Achievement Zone, which works with children and families in North Minneapolis in what they call a “cradle-to-career” system, providing them with the tools they need to move successfully through school, graduate, and be prepared for college. This support can range from housing to finances, to health services, to technology. Working for the nonprofit gave Gwendolene a thorough understanding of how important every piece of the puzzle is when closing the achievement gap. She was therefore intrigued by our program, and wanted to look into getting a computer for of her own. Even though she was working, she was supporting a family and could not afford pawn shop prices. “I helped those neighborhoods,” she said, “but I lived in that neighborhood, too!” She came in with her qualifications and received a computer from us just over two years ago. Recently, she returned to get a laptop for her daughter, who is now a college student. 

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Making the Connection

Here at PCs for People, we are always humbled by the stories we hear from our clientele when our services have had a positive impact on their lives. We love hearing the vast array of answers when we ask even simple questions like how they heard about our program or whether this is their first experience with the Internet.

For one particularly exceptional client, PCs for People was recommended to her by her caseworker. Brenda Clary, who is living with an inflammatory autoimmune condition called rheumatoid arthritis and gets around using a motorized wheelchair, takes part in a government program called Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals. This program allows her to receive a high level of care required to manage her disability while retaining the ability to be independent. Nevertheless, while Brenda's case worker was at her apartment doing a general assessment of her situation, Brenda confessed how lonely and confined she had been feeling.

"I had become somewhat of a shut-in," Brenda said. She has had days where the pain was so intense, she was unable to get out of bed or do little things that we take for granted, like hold a book in her hands. That's when her caseworker suggested she look into getting a computer from PCs for People in order to feel more connected. "I just started crying," Brenda said, giggling sheepishly. "I was like, you're kidding!" Social Security Disability being her main source of income, she had just assumed she would not be able to afford a computer or Internet services. So last December, Brenda called Metro Mobility and paid us a visit. She registered for our program and left that day with a desktop computer and an Internet modem!

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Remarkable Woman Stirs Up a Good Cause With Cookbook Venture

Remarkable woman Tarole Rettke

Spend five minutes talking with Tarole Rettke and you'll learn quickly that she is ambitious. Last year, she wrote a cookbook using the personal computer she had received from PCs for People. The single mom of three did this while working three part-time jobs. To top it off, the proceeds of Tarole's cookbook From Midway to Here, were donated to Stevenson and Hayes Elementary schools. She is currently working on her second cookbook fundraiser in hopes to have the proceeds go to a different elementary school.

"I'm always trying to find ways to make ends meet and to utilize my talent." Tarole said. The computer she received allowed her to purse her passion for writing and recipes. She first started developing her fascination with recipes years ago as a stay-at-home mom. "When I was with the kids I started cooking and trying new recipes. I got really fascinated with where recipes came from---who taught great grandma her recipes and how do we learn them? How does a recipe evolve into what it is today?"

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Family Finds Flourishing Opportunities

Juggling is more than a motion. It's a mentality that achieves balance between the things you can grab hold of and the things out of your control. John Henneman, a married father of five young children frequently juggles his family life with his work life. A self-employed carpenter by trade, John and his wife Brook live in Grand Marais, Minnesota; here is where they homeschool three of their five children. More often than not he'll work from home to work on invoices for his business, or to help out with his children.

Family Finds Flourishing Opportunities

If you ask John how he stays on top of everything, he'll tell you a little about a laptop he received from PCs for People. "For me, it was just knowing that I could save time," said John when asked why he decided to buy the laptop. 

Even though John seems like an expert managing everything with his laptop, he wasn't always this tech savvy. In fact, he had reservations about using the new technology. His digital literacy was limited before he bought the laptop. It wasn't until he stumbled upon a flier at his local post office that he considered buying a laptop.

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With the Help of a Laptop, Unemployed Father Mends Family’s Quality of Life

Losing your job can feel a lot like being rear-ended by life. No one expects to become unemployed, but when it happens, you assess the damage and try to move forward. Since the recession of the late 2000's, finding a new job hasn't come easy for most. It helps to have all the tools necessary to nudge you into your next job opportunity. Thornton Jones knows this first hand. Tools like having a personal computer and access to internet become essential when searching for employment. In today's ever growing cyberspace world, Thornton considers himself blessed to have come across PCs for People after losing his job.

Unemployed Father Mends Family’s Quality of LifeA 63-year-old social worker by trade, Thornton was laid off from his job as a male responsibility and parenting coach. "I'm not exactly sure if it was my age or the recession, but I was replaced by guys that were less than half my age." Thornton said thoughtfully. In spite of being laid off, he isn't bitter about losing his job. He exudes a composed and relaxed optimism. An attitude we would later discover is a recurring theme for Thornton's general outlook on life.

Thornton's ability to find the silver lining when faced with difficult life circumstances has helped him stay proactive about assisting with the care of his 92-year-old mother and his 47-year-old son. Thornton's son has lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that damages various parts of the body. His son also has rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder. The arthritis affects the lining of joints in a way that eventually leads to bone erosion and joint deformity.

"He's in constant pain." Thornton told us. "Some days he can't get out of bed because of the pain. There are other days when he's not quite pain free but he's mobile." In addition to searching for jobs, Thornton uses the laptop he received from PCs for People to improve his son's quality of life.

"We do a lot of medical research on his condition, looking for natural ways to ease his pain," Thornton explained. He said that his son also uses the laptop to reconnect with old friends, which is a welcomed change in Thornton's opinion. Before they had the laptop Thornton's son spent most of his time watching T.V.

Read more: With the Help of a Laptop, Unemployed Father Mends Family’s Quality of Life

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