TechMan: Grassroots effort to give computers to those who can't afford them

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One of the most ambitious programs to rehabilitate used computers and get them back into the community at low or no cost is concentrated here in Western Pennsylvania.

Computer Reach has worked with 824 volunteers over more than 13 years and has refurbished more than 5,700 computers. It has distributed computers in 14 countries and seven states -- but a majority of the work is in Pittsburgh area neighborhoods.

The effort began in Pittsburgh in 2001 with eight volunteer computer techs, engineers and teachers working out of Dave Sevick’s garage rebuilding used Apple computers donated by local schools. To get them into the hands of underserved communities. members traveled to urban and rural food banks around Western Pennsylvania, seeking out people in need of technology.

TechMan met Mr. Sevick in connection with his partnership begun in 2007 with Goodwill of Southwestern PA. Finding a treasure trove of donated computers within Goodwill’s vast warehouse, the team recycled these computers into working condition and placed them on Goodwill’s shelves to be sold back to the community at a reasonable cost.

In 2009, volunteers began buying computers from Goodwill’s shelves at wholesale prices to provide for free or at low cost in Western Pennsylvania and around the world.

Computer Reach is an example of a grassroots effort to help people that mostly flies below the radar. A tip of the TechMan toque to them.

For more information or to volunteer go to

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