Retirees at Tellico Village take time to volunteer to refurbish donated computers. A well organized system lets them step in to help whenever they can.
(WBIR-Tellico Village) The retired guys in a room could be playing golf in Tellico Village. Instead, they refurbish computers.
"Even when I retired, working with computers was probably the last thing I ever thought I would want to do. But it's worked out well for me," Norris Shake said.
Warren Sanders explained, "It's a labor of love. Guys come in here. There's a lot of comradery. It's a way to get away from their wives for a little bit and do something that's very worthwhile."
It's worthwhile because the computers end up with families with children who did not have computers. It's called the Technology Access Program - or TAP. Warren Sanders started the non-profit about seven years ago. The group accepts donated computers from individuals and businesses.
"Anything that is computer related. Keyboards, mice, monitors, the computers themselves, speakers, printers. We can probably use it all," Sanders said.
All computer systems are inspected. The operating system, programs, and personal information are removed from the computer. Then volunteers install a new operating system.
"I could volunteer the way I wanted to volunteer. I could do it on my own terms and my time," Shake said.
Norris Shake is one of about 30 volunteers who come in when they want and contribute to the assembly-line like process.
"The sheets that we have let us take over from where the last person left off and I can come and sit down and just start right here and finish off the sheet," he said.
The finished computers go to needy families in East Tennessee.
"We don't do any screening here. Every family that we give a computer to is referred to us by a school or social agency," Sanders said.
When the volunteers walk in the door the first thing they see on the all is a big tally shoot. the number of computer systems they have given away and the number of children they have helped."
"Just seeing the looks on the kids' faces and knowing that without us they might never have a computer in their home until they are adults," Sanders said.
Tellico TAP is good for the young people who receive the computers and also for the not so young people who make that possible.
"People so many times are afraid they're going to hit the wrong key or they are going to do something wrong and it's not going to work any longer. But this volunteering has helped me not to be afraid of it," Shake said.