SIRCH, Rotaract and Big Brothers and Big Sisters are partnering to put technology in the hands of people in need to help connect the community.

The three groups began “A Caring Connection” July 5, an eight-week program to collect used technology, clear them of data and update them, then provide them to people. A Rotaract member will be paired up with each person receiving a device to ensure they know how to use it.

Rotaract Haliburton Highlands president and project coordinator Rebecca Anderson said providing this technology is important given the separations caused by COVID19. She cited some of the vulnerable populations being hit hardest by the pandemic – isolated seniors, women in dangerous living situations without phone access and children in families without enough devices.

“There is a lack of connection in our community and it’s felt by the most vulnerable in our community,” Anderson said. “How are you expected to do schoolwork without a computer? How are you going to call 911 without a phone? How are you going to feel included in the community when you can’t even connect with your community?”

The groups will collect the devices, including phones, laptops and desktop computers that can still work. They aim to gather 500.

SIRCH executive director Gena Robertson said it is great to see a youth-led organization such as Rotaract partnering and taking this on.

“I haven’t witnessed a great deal of youth volunteerism, so to me this is really exciting,” Robertson said. “Stay in Haliburton County … and participate in the social services in the County.”

Anderson said it is valuable for Rotaract, which launched in February but was curtailed by the pandemic.

“It shows how serious we are when it comes to serving our community,” Anderson said. “It’s a really great opportunity for us to get out there.”

Anyone looking to donate devices can call SIRCH at 705-457-1742 to arrange drop-off or pick-up. Anyone interested in being part of this program or learning more about it can contact Rebecca_anderson@sirch.on.ca.

“I can’t wait to see the generosity of our community,” Anderson said. “I’m really excited to see this project go.”

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