Since 2000, Henry has been an unemployed homeless veteran who once worked as a machine operator and a truck driver. When Lifetrack Resources opened up its brand new computer lab, in partnership with the Broadband Access Project and the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, Henry took full advantage of its resources.
Rain, sleet or snow, Henry has ridden his bicycle to the lab almost every single day since it opened in July of 2010. That adds up to over 200 hours of computer time over the last 10 months at 709 University Avenue W., St. Paul, MN 55104.
With all of this screen time he has been able to start and finish writing a 60-page memoir about the state of homelessness in America.
“Because you guys are so available, I was able to accomplish whatever projects I needed to go back to work,” Henry said.
Because of the special needs of its clients, Lifetrack’s lab, unlike many other public labs and is primarily used by low income individuals from the surrounding area for assistance with job searching and improving their computer skills. The lab is available for walk-ins all afternoon and not just for an hour at a time.
This has allowed Henry to really spend the necessary time on his projects. He has also taken advantage of Lifetrack’s computer lab staff to revamp his resume and gain computer skills.
Henry has learned to use a flash drive, attach files to emails, improve his typing skills, and much more. He described learning to use the grammar tools in Microsoft Word as “taking English 101.”
Henry is part of a proud legacy of helping veterans at Lifetrack Resources, which was founded in 1948 as the St. Paul Rehabilitation Center to respond to community needs the polio epidemic and injured veterans returning from World War II. Its mission continues to this day as the nonprofit Lifetrack Resources to help people create a better life through programs focusing on family, health, employment programs and economic opportunity.
In addition to offering an open computer lab, Lifetrack Resources and the Broadband Access Project offer free computer classes to both the public and to small businesses and nonprofits. Please contact Lifetrack Resources at 651-265-2365 if you would like to set up a free class, or sign up for free classes online at www.bap.umn.edu.
Find out more about Lifetrack Resources at www.lifetrackresources.org.
Henry’s story is real but his name has been changed to protect his privacy.
BAP was envisioned to bridge the digital divide for under-resourced sections of the Twin Cities, has created computer centers in four federally-designated poverty zones: north Minneapolis, south Minneapolis, southeast Minneapolis and west St. Paul. The community groups in these areas are typically African American, Latino, Native American, Somali, and Hmong.
This publication was prepared by (Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium) under award #27-42-B10003 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, US Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author (s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Department of Commerce.