The Sequim PC Users Group, a nonprofit that’s provided more than 1,200 computers to community members and groups, is getting a reboot.
Group members recently announced they’re only going to accept and refurbish laptops from now on, and shift away from accepting and providing desktop computers.
“Desktops aren’t as popular as they once were with people preferring laptops, phones and tablets,” said Kelly McKillip, the group’s Tech Shop manager.
The group’s home base inside Tom and Joyce LaMure’s garage north of Sequim is also going to become unavailable this month, as the couple is moving into the City of Sequim.
The couple has provided the garage space for 12 years rent-free to the group since taking over the Sequim Kiwanis Club’s Computers for Community Project that refurbished computers to local students who did not have access to technology.
“We got an amazing response and it continued to grow,” Tom LaMure said.
Now the group is looking for a new space to refurbish laptops to include new operating systems and open source software.
They said the group seeks internet, power, heat and a place for people to pick-up and drop-off laptops, McKillip said.
Those with a potential space the group can use, can email McKillip at firstname.lastname@example.org.
True community effort
LaMure said group members have never been a burden or in the way.
“We’re moving because we’re anticipating the future,” he said. “We felt this home was too much for us.”
Computers refurbished by group members have gone to people and agencies in need across the North Olympic Peninsula the last 12-plus years.
Group volunteer Joe Mirabella said if they’re unable to secure a new space following a move from LaMure’s garage, they’ll work on laptops from their homes individually.
McKillip said “having a computer these days, whether as a student or for work, is essential.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, there was an influx in demand for computers, so they helped the Sequim School District refurbish 90 surplus computers for students.
“(The group’s refurbishing effort) has been a win, win, win project all around,” LaMure said.
“People had no idea they could get a computer for free.”
To simplify the process, group members don’t ask for any information other than a name.
Many group members have computer backgrounds or have become local experts. Mirabella who served as IT field support in disaster recovery for IBM, said he “likes the camaraderie and that it keeps my skills up and keeps things out of the landfill, too.”
Volunteer Mike Sanborn echoes that saying he’s learned a lot too, and that when they run into new issues, they learn how to solve them.
McKillip said volunteers have moved out most of the equipment from LaMure’s garage or donated it to an electronics recycler or Goodwill.
Part of the group’s mission is to reuse equipment and “keep it out of the landfill as long as possible,” McKillip said.
She joined the group years ago because she was “tired of being on the phone for two hours with tech support.” Now she coordinates incoming and outgoing computers, and what needs to be done.
Sequim PC Users Group started in 1992 to help locals with their computer skills while enhancing their lives. It became a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1996 and their first major project was installing 24 computers at Sequim High School, according to the group’s website.
Along with refurbishing 1,200 computers, some of the group’s other accomplishments include continuing as a Registered Microsoft Refurbisher, helping third-graders at Roosevelt Elementary School Computer Club refurbish computers, and helping members/seniors from 1-3 p.m. Mondays at Shipley Center with computer/tablet/phone support. The group has worked on Shipley Center’s computers and in its computer clinic since 2017.
For those looking to help with general expenses for equipment, financial donations are accepted by mailing checks to Sequim PC Users Group, P.O. Box 1994, Sequim, WA 98382.
Laptops with a Windows 7 operating system or later operating system can be coordinated with McKillip by emailing email@example.com.
For more about the group, visit spcug.net or call and leave a message at 360-797-5771.