By WUA XIONG
AAP staff writer
Saint Paul, Minn. (July 22, 2011) — This past Friday, The University of Minnesota’s Broadband Access Project held a free two part training session on Quick Books for Saint Paul Public Housing at the Asian Community Technology Center.
Barbara Engram, 61, a PEER with the Presidents Council, was one of the many trainees that day. “I’m real happy with it because right now I am the acting treasurer for two of the high rises and we do all of the paperwork by hand. With the adding and the subtracting of everything Quick Books is going to make it a lot easier so that we can just enter it and have it put it into the right funds for us.”
The Broadband Access Project has been offering free training since fall of 2010, and recently added Quick Books onto that list. St. Paul PHA was the first group to go through the free Quick Books training.
Eileen Tittle, 64, Resident Council Coordinator for St. Paul Public Housing stated that “this has turned out to so amazing. We cannot believe this training has become available. We were not sure how we were going to get these people trained and this came about.”
Patrick Audette, 27, Broadband Access Team Leader, who taught part of the 2nd day of the training, stated “training for Quick Books is expensive, and the fact that we can offer it for free is a great value for the community. One of the Broadband Access Projects major focus groups is non profits, and Quick Books is a typical and widely used programs. I thought the training went really well.”
The PHA participants that day came with a variety of skills and past work experiences.
“The trainers are fantastic. I have enjoyed listening to them talk about it and it’s great to have knowledgeable trainers, so far all the questions i have had, have been answered,” said Engram.
Luz Vasquez, 52, Treasurer for Wilson High Rise, “I like it because I use to have my own business, so I use to do bookkeeping and I like working with numbers, I always did it on paper.”
As for Simon Carvalho, the Cleveland Hi Rise Treasurer, he saw that the training was a good balance of teaching and practicing. “Especially for people who doesn’t know much you can see that they are catching on and excited about it. This is the way to go, I could not have asked for anything more.”
And Jesse Thomas, 54, Volunteer Treasurer states, “I think it’s a lot easier than what i have been doing. I have doing a lot of audits for the past 2-3 months. I make sure that all the finances are in order, make sure the money is accounted for, and prepare reports. Quick Books will cut down the time a lot. I won’t have to use a calculator to figure out the balance.”
The road leading to this training actually started two years ago, when St. Paul Public Housing, needed computers for their residents.
All 16 public housing high rises in St. Paul eventually came to have a computer station in them and are staffed by computer savvy volunteers. With that done, PHA decided we need to update their financial book keeping.
“We decided that one of the things we looked to improve, that PHA wanted us to improve, was how we managed our financial books. So we said we got computers, it’s time to get computer-rized. We are going to teach our volunteer Treasurers and PEER Teams and other volunteers how to use Quick Books,” said Tittle. “This is a huge step for us. It was all done by hand and adding machines. We were doing monthly reports, balancing our check books, sending me our monthly reports, posting monthly reports.”
According to Audette, Quick Books is designed for small businesses and non profits. Larger companies have something that is developed for them by a large software company. Quick Books actually allows you to set up as a nonprofit. It will set up forms and customization for non profits, a lot of the work will be set up for you.
Audette went onto explain the challenges involved in developing specific curriculum for training sessions such as this one. “It’s difficult to do a customized training for any group because you have to alter your curriculum, and for anyone that has developed curriculum, they know that it takes a very long time to develop. St. Paul PHA had some very specific things that they wanted to do, from the examples that they gave I was able to develop this training specific to their needs.”
Tittle admits that they weren’t really organized at first, “we could not find information when we needed it. Now, we have now become very organized, plus now we can do it all without adding a long list of numbers over and over again to get the right amount.”
Even though day long trainings can take a toll on the body and brain, it is rewarding to know that everyone is walking away with a bit more knowledge.
Thomas added one more thought, “It’s been a lot of fun.”