Paying it Forward, One Computer at a Time
Sailor teaches, gives out computers to less fortunate families
In the 1990s computers became popular because they were cheaper and smaller than ever before. There was a computer in most households across America. Adults and their kids would use them on a daily basis. However, not everyone could afford a computer or had a chance to use one until later in life. Sonar Technician Surface 1st Class Reynaldo Reyes, stationed aboard USS Freedom (LCS-1), and his family were among them.
His parents, who emigrated from Mexico, worked tirelessly to provide for their family. Reyes' dad worked two jobs, while his mom worked at her job and looked after him and his siblings. With money so tight, they couldn't afford luxury items such as a computer. It wasn't until he was about 13 his family scraped together enough money to buy a computer. Growing up, Reyes experienced their struggles to better their family first hand, and he watched them struggle to learn how to use that computer.
"My parents struggled a lot just because they lacked the capability to understand how computers work," said Reyes, a native of Santa Anna, California. "It was all struggles that they definitely didn't need to go through or could have easily been surpassed because of understanding how the Internet works or how a computer works or how to type up a resume."
The Navy set Reyes on a new path, one he would have never imagined. As a result of his new opportunities, he's been able to start on his bachelor's degree, change his life around, and figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Still he never forgot where he came from and the challenges his family faced. He had a desire to help people who were less fortunate so he started volunteering in 2014.
I definitely wanted to give back, especially to those people I see struggling with the same things I struggled with or my parents struggled with when I was growing up." STG1 Reyes
After thinking about the hardships he and his family went through, he wanted to do something with computers. After all, as a sonar tech, Reyes said he already works on what is basically an oversized computer.
"I wanted to see what I could do with computers and see what programs were open, and that is when I found Computers to San Diego Kids," said Reyes. "They do everything from refurbishing computers to helping needy families and giving them out at a discounted rate. They also hold trainings for computer illiteracy at the county libraries, which I take part in."
While the organization is called Computers to San Diego Kids, it is for everyone who wants to learn how to use a computer. The class he teaches helps people of all ages who might not know anything about computers to people who already know how to use the Internet.
"The age groups really vary at every class, but some people show up not knowing how to setup an email," said Reyes. "Some people show up knowing how to work Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, but every time I have taught a class, it has been beneficial to the learners. I know I have taught people how to write a resume or just figure out how to find that template. So everyone's skills basis varies, but they definitely leave there knowing a lot more than they came in."