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NewToYou Computers

Pat Patera

People who want a home computer or a starter system for a small or new business often balk at laying out $1,000 or more for a computer,monitor, keyboard and operating system.

Frankly, they’d rather pay just $90 to $300 for that system.

They can.NewToYou Computers, a program of Disability Resources, headquartered in Sparks, refurbishes old computer systems, then sells them: good as new.

That’s a good thing for several good reasons, says Dana Roblin, executive director.

The high-tech toys are laden with toxins, a bad thing to dump in the local landfill because the lead and chemicals will eventually leach into the groundwater.

Instead, the donated computer systems are refurbished and put back into use.

People with disabilities (they prove it with a letter from their doctor, or with social security disability receipts) can get a system free of charge.

Others pay, but pay only a fraction of the cost of a new system.

Cost depends on the speed and quality of the system.

Sales proceeds pay the staff that refurbishes the equipment.

Leftover profits go to support Disability Resources’ overall mission.

Finally, donors get a tax write-off from the non-profit agency.

Donations to the are tax deductible to both business and individuals.

The agency does not determine the value of the donation that’s up to the donor’s tax advisor the receipt simply lists the items.

While most donations are single systems given by individuals, companies have donated from 15 to 100 systems at a time.

The average business keeps a system two to six years before it’s deemed too old for office use, says Roblin.

When equipment is so old or outdated as to be unusable, a donation to cover the cost of recycling is requested.

It costs 75 cents a pound to recycle the materials in old computers.

“Don’t let it sit in the closet, donate it right away,” says Roblin.

Technical manuals and how to books are also accepted.

Each machine is tested, the hard drive wiped clean of data.An operating system, either Windows or Mac, is installed.

Two staff technicians handle the refurbishing, aided by up to 10 volunteers, who come in to help with testing.More help comes from Truckee Meadows Community College, where students studying software engineering and computer repair in the Computer Technology Department can chose to do their one-semester internship with NewToYou Computers.

Who are the customers? Small and start up businesses, says Roblin.

Plus larger companies that just need a simple system to use as a dedicated server.

“Home users want game systems, says Roblin.””Sometimes we get in amazing gaming systems that go for $1,000.”

The only advertising for the program started about four years ago, is a flyer that’s distributed at libraries and at non-profit outreach events such as Earth Day.

Next year, the agency hopes to hire a staffer to solicit donations from companies.

“We’re ready to take in donations,” says Roblin.

The primary purpose of Disability Resources is to provide the support people with disabilities need to live independently.

Contracts with the state pay for staff to teach cooking, shopping, clothing and cleaning skills.

With a ratio of 45 part time employees keeping tabs on about 55 people in the program, it’s nearly a one-on-one arrangement.

The agency also helps in the job search process, which helps people get hired in positions such as warehousing, food service and custodial.Employees are not subsidized by the state; the employers pay the wage.

The feedback from those businesses that have hired workers with disabilities is positive, says Roblin.”Employers find them dedicated, responsible with a solid work ethic.

They’re so excited to have a job, a paycheck.

They value the job.When we solicit for job openings, business often thinks these people won’t interact well with the public.

It scares them, the picture they have of the disabled.We work hard at locating the job that is a good match for them.” “Education will be a huge part of our growth,” says Roblin.”We want to work with large corporations coming into town.We want to encourage business to create jobs for people with disabilities.

The agency service Washoe County, but hopes to expand into Carson City and Douglas County.