From left are Michelle Rhodes, of the Shipley Center; Tom LaMure and Jim Hurley of the Sequim PC Users Group; Steve Solberg of SPCUG and the Shipley Center’s IT specialist; and Shipley Center Executive Director Michael Smith. Sequim Gazette photo by Patricia Morrison Coate

Network links unite entities: Groups pay it forward to donate computers to Sequim’s Shipley Center

It’s been said, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and who they know and who they know — networking at its best.

Earlier this year a four-link chain was forged and the end result was seven refurbished computers for Sequim’s Shipley Center.

The players were the Peninsula Credit Union in Port Townsend, the Sequim PC Users Group, the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club and the Shipley Center, Sequim’s senior center. SPCUG is a nonprofit that refurbishes outdated computers and gives them to other nonprofits, and occasionally individuals.

Jim Hurley, a longtime SPCUG member, explained the process.

“I had contacted the Peninsula Credit Union a long time ago and told them what we do here — I’ve known the manager of the Port Townsend branch since 2009,” Hurley said. “He put me in touch with their IT (information technology) guy a year ago. They’d already donated seven or eight computers to us and contacted me, saying they had more to give us.”

Michelle Rhodes, development program director at the Shipley Center, put the word out to SPCUG that “maintaining our old computers was becoming problematic.”

SPCUG volunteer Joe Mirabella was the lead on the refurbishing project, with other club volunteers assisting. The club is a registered Microsoft refurbisher, one of just a few in Washington, which allows it to purchase its software and licensing at a greatly reduced rate.

“The Shipley Center, as a nonprofit, also has access to software at a significantly reduced price through Tech Soup,” Rhodes said.

Before donating the computers, the Peninsula Credit Union pulled out all the hard drives to ensure its customers’ privacy. SPCUG took the Dell machines and put in new 240 gigabyte solid state hard drives, 8 gigabytes of RAM memory and Windows 10.

Tom LaMure, the club’s president, said one of its members also was in Rotary and told that group about SPCUG’s need to buy new hard drives and memory, so Sunrise Rotary donated $980.

“This was done by SPCUG volunteers who donated their time, talent and expertise to help somebody else out,” LaMure said. “I’m excited about all the entities that donate without expecting anything in return. Our objective is to make computer technology a reality for everybody and we’re closing in on it.”

The club has refurbished more than 600 donated computers over the years.

“This is a true partnership and we are very lucky to have SPCUG support us,” Rhodes said. “We really enjoy these computers. The club also has a computer help clinic at 1 p.m. Mondays that’s free for members and that help us encourage people to join the Shipley Center. We’re very grateful for SPCUG because it also helps out with other technical equipment here. We truly could not operate at the capacity we do without SPCUG.”

Steve Solberg is the IT specialist at the Shipley Center and also a member of the club.

He said, “If you bought these seven computers, they’d probably retail for $1,000 a piece.”

The computers were installed in May and are available to members in the separate computer lab from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. People can do research on the Internet, check their email or write a letter, Rhodes said.

For more information about the Shipley Center at 921 E. Hammond St., call 683-6806. For more information about the Sequim PC Users Group, visit https://www.spcug.net/.

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