Saturday, September 17, 2005


Tools are what my father used in his vocation as a chemist and with his woodworking enjoyed in the garage after he came home at night. Plumbers, mechanics and electricians use tools to make life easier for all of us. Surgeons use tools to fix things wrong inside our bodies.

The volunteers at the Arena Community Technology Center (ACT Center) have been using the tools of technology to find lost loved ones, work with evacuees to establish email accounts, fill out various applications, and assist in searches for housing, jobs and the other things needed begin life anew in their new hometowns.

An example from the ACT Center today are the two volunteers from St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Houston, who assisted a young man looking for his lost father. The young man was safe with his mother living at the Astrodome and now the Reliant Arena. While she no longer has a relationship with the young man's father, the young man assisted by this couple wanted to know that his father was alive and OK. Through the tools of technology they located his father, who apparently had established an email account for the first time at another shelter. This volunteer couple assisted the son to establish an email account as well and send his father a message. The next step is reunification.

Without volunters and the tools that father and son were empowered to use, finding each other would have been almost impossible. Community Technology Centers (CTCs), like the ones TFA has helped establish and works with across the greater Houston area, empower low-income and under-resourced communities through the tools of technology. The knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for success in todays world are imparted to youth and their families through these CTCs. The CTCs that TFA has been operating to assist the evacuee community are no different than other CTCs across Houston and across the nation. These CTCs serve a critical need of empowerment with populations that now can utilize these technology tools that many of us take for granted. TFA is a membes of the Community Technology Centers Network (CTCNet). Other member organizations of CTCNet are involved in similar CTC projects at relief centers across the U.S. Without the tools and the work of empowering clients to use them, many persons served by CTCs might not benefit from the information resources many of us use with ease.

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