By Josh McCann
Students In Training, a Salisbury nonprofit organization that teaches students to refurbish donated computers for people in need, is expanding into Cabarrus County.
The agency donated five computers to Cooperative Christian Ministry’s Opportunity House daytime resource center this week, and leaders hope to establish a base in Cabarrus.
SIT officials recently contacted CCM executive director Ed Hosack and are now looking for a place to begin branching out, said SIT executive director Bill Lawry.
“We’re looking forward to pursuing a mutual interest in opening up a chapter,” Lawry said. “We are both anxious to do it.”
In addition to its original mission, the 12-year-old agency also recycles “e-waste,” develops Web sites and raises money by selling materials it can’t work with on eBay.
Although other groups are involved in some of the same individual fields as SIT, Lawry said he knows of no other agency in the country that combines all the same elements.
Last year, SIT gave away more than 400 computers and kept more than 40 tons of potentially hazardous materials out of landfills and out of the drinking water supply, Lawry said.
About 60 students ranging from middle grades to the community college level currently participate in the program.
The agency accepts walk-in clients and referrals from health and human service organizations.
A primary objective, Lawry said, is ensuring there are “fewer people on wrong side of digital divide.”
Hosack knows that divide well.
In addition to his role with CCM, Hosack also leads nonprofit LifeBuilder Ministries, which offers basic computer training classes.
Many LifeBuilder clients express interest in further developing their abilities but don’t have access to the technology needed to do so.
The opportunity to gain new skills that are increasingly required by employers can give struggling workers reason to hope, Hosack said.
Before SIT donated a matching set on Tuesday, the Opportunity House relied on donated computers that could not be coordinated well enough to allow for simultaneous class instruction.
Hosack said he is most excited about SIT’s potential to spark an interest in learning among young people while helping the community care for its environment.
“This is too good of an opportunity,” Hosack said. “We need to find the right place to begin this sort of a program.”
• Contact reporter Josh McCann: 704-789-9152.