The Sabin Community Development Corporation last week opened a free community computer lab at Reflections Coffeehouse, 446 NE Killingsworth at MLK Jr. Boulevard.
The new resource includes a free three-station wireless lab, open to the public from 7a.m. until 6 p.m., and a 10 station Learning Lab for community training that will be staffed by experienced trainers and mentors.
"Sabin's been involved in the digital inclusion movement since 1991 here in North/Northeast Portland," says Sabin Economic Empowerment Director Craig Fondren. "We used to have labs and wanted people to come to us, but we have now decided to take technology to people by placing them in places folks show up."
"I think it's going to have a big impact simply because it's going to be pretty much state of the art equipment, and the community will have a chance to come in and use it cause it'll be available during all the store hours, it's going to be available to all ages, from young adults, they're even going to have a children's part of it," says Gloria McMurtrey, proprietor of Reflections.
"I would definitely encourage people to come in and use the lab, even though there's other venues available like the library and PCC," she said. "I think this is an exciting environment, very casual, there's food and drinks available so people can spend the day if you want."
The organization launched the new facility on Nov. 6, at an event introducing their new Executive Director Pasquale Jenkins, who has spent the past 10 years as a member of Sabin's board of directors.
"There was a steady flow of people coming in and out and asking questions about it, so I think it was very successful and it was good kickoff," he said.
Jenkins shared his vision for Sabin CDC's future.
"I would like to project our company into the future by, number one, becoming self sufficient, not depending on any outside funding sources, so direct money for operations," he said.
He also places a priority on bridging the digital divide for lower-income citizens and giving local kids an opportunity for better technical training.
"A lot of underpriviledged kids don't have availability of computers, training, programming and different events, things that would be available at other market rate areas of this city,' Jenkins said.
He says he also plans to build Sabin's home-ownership program, which provides affordable home ownership services for North and Northeast residents.
"The price of houses is going up so high I want to make sure we're having any more major gentrification going on, so homeownership is another direction that I want to take," Jenkins said.
Fondren says the Reflections computer lab is just the neginning.
"We're looking at opening another one in January, and I think we'll have another on in March," Fondren said. "We are looking at coffee shops and bookstores, places where folks go in the neighborhood to be able to be trained, as well as there's wireless connectivity for those who already have the skill."
Fondren says Sabin CDC's new website will be launched on Monday, and supporters can log on there to make donations in support of the computer center.
Also, Healthy Pets Northwest on Alberta Street is hosting a fundraiser for the CDC and the Oregon Humane Society Nov. 22.
"They're raffling baskets off and you can get your picture taken with your pet and Santa Clause and part of the proceeds go to Sabin," he said.
The group has been setting up free computer labs for years, including a senior lab at the Urban League Multicultural Senior Center, a learning lab at McCoy Village at Martin Luther King Jr. and Prescott Streets, and a business lab inside the Black United Fund of Oregon, which has since been diplaced for office space. "So those are our satellites and now we've made the choice to spring out and do something that has more of a public private sort of thing, the retail and the technology," he said.
"It's going to be interesting," McMurtry said. "Even though there's a lot of other venues there's still not enough to accommodate the whole community. Especially when they want to include seniors as well."
The CDC worked in partnership with Reflections, S.H. Watkins and the YouthBuilders Computer Tech Program.
For more information call 503-288-4070