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When we emerge through the door at the top of a long flight of stairs, it's hard to see anything. Slowly, as our eyes adjust, we become aware of three rows of computers on our right, six in a rank. The Venetian shades have been drawn to shield computer screens from the glare of several large picture windows which would otherwise look out onto downtown St. Louis. We are on the top floor of the Employment connection building at 2838 Market Street, occupied by the Veterans Court Technology Clinic.
The Veterans court Technology Clinic raffled off 20 laptop and desktop computers to deserving veterans over the two-day event held at the St. Louis Forest Park Community College, May 14 -15, 2016.
Over one-hundred veterans signed up for raffle tickets. They were informed that if they didn't happen to get lucky and win a computer at the Stand down, they could sign up for class at the VCTC and earn a computer at graduation. Many vets showed interest in what we could do to improve their opportunities for success.
This year's Stand down was a departure from earlier ones in that there were far more service organizations (fifty-three at least) on board to help vets in all ways possible. Of course there were usual features; legal services, band music, hot food service, haircuts, clothing and hygienic supplies.
Over the last eight weeks, AARP has been using the training facilities at the Veterans Court Technology Clinic to bring seniors (mostly veterans) up to date on computer technology and internet access. On December 14, the first class held a graduation ceremony where each student received both a certificate and a laptop computer. This is an on-going program, cycling ten students over an eight week period throughout the year. Graduation was part of a larger program put on by the AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program who works with about fifty agencies, including the VCTC, dedicated to preparing older folks for good jobs in the St. Louis area. Kennedy Davis, VCTC Executive Director, gave out computers to ten program graduates. Each computer had the participant's certificate on its desktop screen. Afterwards, Mr. Davis was given a certificate of thanks from the AARP for the services provided by VCTC.
Thirty-three VCTC students and supporters were present for the first ever formal graduation ceremony held Friday, June 12, 2015, at the VCTC facility. Five of seven graduates expressed both gratitude and a sense of renewed purpose as they accepted their certificates and laptop computers from Executive Director Kennedy Davis.
St. Louis University has granted the Vet Court Technology Clinic (VCTC) an initial sum of $10,000.00 to refurbish computers and distribute them into the St. Louis community. The money has been buying used computers and the needed parts and software updates to bring them up to present day standards. Mr. Carey Cunningham of the St. Louis Public Schools Virtual Education Program is distributing them to his students for home study. He has distributed 30 computers to-date.
Kennedy Davis, Executive Director of VCTC, sees this opportunity as a way to further penetrate the St. Louis community with much needed opportunities to build computer skills and, thereby, vastly improve employment opportunities.More About VCTC