July was a very busy month for Resource Centers International trying to meet a September shipping deadline. We started July with only 33 computers but by the end of the month we had enough equipment and supplies to outfit ten (10) centers, with a few exceptions. We also received the commitment of one Rotarian to participate in the December mission, as well as a generous donation from a private individual. Please refer to the end of the article on ‘How to Stock 8 Resource Centers’ for the critical needs we still have to complete our goals for fiscal year 2011-2012.
How to Stock 8 Resource Centers
by Mel Honig, Newsletter Editor
The U.S. Navy may ship our equipment and supplies to Belize gratis in September, thus the need to obtain everything needed by the end of August. Even though the overseas transportation will be free, we still have significant overland costs in the States and Belize. Below is a listing of what we have already accomplished and what we still need before we can set up eight (8) Resource Centers in Belize this coming fiscal year.
The most difficult items to obtain are the computers, so when some became available through the Vermilion school system we jumped at the opportunity to get as many as we could. This is where our computer expert and Webmaster, Justin Kendall, came through again as he took 50 old computers and put together 20 operating units. This bought our computer total to 53…. still short of the 70 we would like to acquire. The other 33 units were donated by the Perrysburg School System. These computers will go into communities where a majority of the population has never used a computer, and school children have to travel miles just to do their homework.
Except for 6 tables, 2 storage units and 20 chairs donated through the help of Andrew Timothy (Sylvania Rotarian) by Owens Community College, the remainder of the chairs, tables and book shelves, televisions, rolling carts, storage units and VCRs were purchased at three different school closing auctions in Northwest Ohio. As school buildings become outdated and too expensive to maintain, new ones replace the old. Excess, often outdated equipment in these schools is sold to the public (usually through auction) often at bargain prices.
Books and tapes
The books and VHS tapes were either purchased from the Friends of the Library (we get a very favorable rate), or donated by Rotarians Jerry Peacock (Waterville Rotary), Father Bob Haas (Galion Rotary) and Judy Riggle (Oberlin Rotary). There are no libraries for learning or casual reading in the Belizean communities targeted for Resource Centers. One of the first things the children and adults of each community that we have established centers in is to pick up a book and read it.
Televisions and VCRs
Many televisions and VCRs were purchased at auction, but we also received donations from Dental Group West (2 televisions/VCR), and the Toledo Board of Jewish Education (4 televisions with VCRs). There are no movie theaters in Belize, so the VHS tapes and the equipment to show them are a valuable source of learning and entertainment for the community.
Home Depot gave us a significant discount on the electrical supplies we purchased. A critical need at each Resource Center is to update the electrical system in order to accommodate the computers. This requires laying wire and an outlet box to each computer. A lot of wire and outlets are needed to install sixty (60) computers.
Sam’s Club (and to a lesser extent Walmart) gave us a significant discount on the exercise flooring we purchased as well as all the paper, crayons, pens, pencils, scissors, etc. We found the interlocking exercise flooring to be very popular at the centers. All their floors in the Resource Centers are concrete and very hard on children who like to run and jump. Sitting on the floor during story time is greatly enhanced by having the exercise mats in place.
Toys, Games and Sporting Equipment
Some may think that toys, games, puzzles and sports equipment are not essential for a Resource Center, but hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity and play are important parts of the maturation and socialization of infants and preschool children. Almost all the toys, games were purchased by Gail Odneal at yard sales and second hand outlet stores. Significant numbers of toys and games were also donated by the Bryan Rotary as well as Elana Honig, who has already gone on two missions. Sporting equipment has also been donated by the Sylvania Area Recreation Center. We still need games, toys, puzzles and sporting equipment (especially soccer balls).
Without experts in their field to participate in mission trips our work is doomed to failure. To date only Judy Riggle (Oberlin Rotary) and Mel Honig (Sylvania Rotary) have fully committed to going on the December 10 – 18 mission. Many others, although interested, have not yet said they would definitely go. As an absolute minimum we still need:
- 3 more Trainers
- Computer Expert
We will not refuse anyone going as there is a lot of work to do in one week.
To be able to realize the goal of establishing 8 Resource Centers in fiscal year 2011 – 2012 we still need:
- 20 computers
- Games, toys, puzzles, sporting goods
- Mission Personnel
- Raise an additional $6500.00. $5500 in donations and grants has been received for fiscal year 2011-2012.
If you would like your Rotary Club to have a presentation and/or possibly participate in this MESA project or if you can help us out with any of the above please contact the Resource Centers International Coordinator: Mel Honig