Allen Community Center

Area groups install computers for Pine Ridge Reservation

August 27, 2009 // 0 Comments

During the second week of August, a group from Kent County installed 75 computers divided among eight community youth centers on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Home of the Lakota (incorrectly called Sioux) people, most of the reservation is in Shannon County, which is known as the poorest county in the United States. The project was a joint effort involving six people, Grand Valley State University (GVSU), the Rockford Rotary Club, Bostwick Lake Congregational UCC, Rockford Ace Hardware, and Van’s Delivery Service of Comstock Park. Two years ago, GVSU planned to replace many of its personal computers. Since the disposal cost runs as high as $100 per computer, GVSU looked for nonprofit organizations that could use the computers. Paul Jorgensen, of the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU, had been taking church groups to Pine Ridge since 1999, and he knew how to get things started. He contacted Carolyn Tail, wife of Eli Tail, a respected Lakota Elder. Carolyn originally lined up seven community youth centers, and in June of this year, Jorgensen visited each of them. Word spread, and an eighth community center was added (see the map). Through much of July, Jorgensen and David Lange (also of the SCIS) transported the PCs from GVSU to a warehouse at Van’s Delivery Service, where they took each computer apart, removed the hard drives and replaced the BIOS batteries. They also used a shop vacuum to blow the five-year accumulation of dust out of each PC. Also in July, Jorgensen and Todd Olson, vice president of Van’s, made a presentation to the Rockford Rotary Club, where both are active members. The result was a generous gift to rent a 16-foot truck from the Rockford Ace Hardware store. Pete Kruer, owner of the store, and another Rotarian, gave the group a rental truck at a discount price. The physical work began in the first week of August, when Pat Bailey, a professor at Calvin College, and Dan and Dave Davis of the Bostwick Lake church, joined Jorgensen and Lange to inventory 80 monitors purchased from CompRenew in Grand Rapids. The monitors and PCs all had to be packed on pallets. The first try didn’t work too well, so all the monitors were removed […]