Kemeny Reading Corner Celebrates Grand Opening of Computer Center

Kemeny Rec Center Supervisor Robert Donaldson (left) and Dr. Delores Leonard present materials to community members at the November 2 opening of the Kemeny Reading Center Computer Lab

DETROIT – The Kemeny Recreational Center’s Reading Corner officially opened their new computer center with a special gathering on November 2 in Southwest Detroit. Approximately two dozen community members, Kemeny staff and local organizers were in attendance as a total of eight new personal computers with full internet capability were officially brought online and introduced to community members.

“I thought it went well,” said Dr. Delores Leonard, a retired educator and community advocate in Southwest Detroit who provided the primary impetus for the computer center and the Reading Corner to be established inside the Kemeny Center. “My major goal was to get seniors involved. If we can get the seniors involved, hopefully they will cross over and work with the children. The children are so knowledgeable about the computers, so I am very pleased.”

Kemeny Center Supervisor Robert Donaldson gave the welcome followed by an opening address from Leonard. Other speakers at the event were Rhonda Anderson of the Detroit Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Office, Jenny Lee and Anderson Walworth – both of Allied Media Projects. Anderson spoke on the relationship between environmental justice and digital cheap car insurance justice. Lee spoke on the principles of digital justice and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which is funding a series of DDJC computer labs through the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program.

“(The computer center) gives the community an opportunity to engage with what’s really going on now because the technology is changing every year,” said Donaldson. “It gives a lot of accessibility to a lot of people who are virtually shut in this Southwest corner of Detroit.

“Hopefully, everybody in this southwest community will be able to come and give some input into what they would like to see in this new structure. It has a tremendous upside.”

Currently the Reading Corner and new computer center share a common meeting space with other activities in the rec center. That should soon change when a long sought new facility is erected soon as a new home of the Kemeny Rec Center. Organizers anticipate the new building should make an even more suitable home for the community computer center.

“The new center will definitely be bigger and better,” Donaldson said. “We’ll have a lot more room. For example, you can see in this meeting room that we use is multi-purpose. I believe the participation can be much more impactful when we don’t have to use this it for multiple purposes. We can use it for much more than leisure and recreation but we can get into education.

“By all means, the computers come into play with the library and the computer lab. We just don’t want it to be just a little satellite library. If they build this building big enough, it can definitely be like a Detroit Public Library right in the new building.

It will give a whole lot more exposure to this southwestern corner. We are not just talking about southwest Detroit, we are also talking about the communities that are adjacent to us like Ecorse, River Rouge, Melvindale, Lincoln Park and South Gate.

The Kemeny Reading Corner is a member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition along with 12 other organizations in Detroit who are all committed to the principle that communication is a fundamental human right. The DDJC came together around a core group of digital justice principles: Access, Participation, Common Ownership and Healthy Communities.

Those organizations are the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), Allied Media Projects (AMP), Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, People United as One, Bridging Communities Inc., Detroit Summer, Detroit Sierra Club Environmental Justice Office, Open Technology Initiative, Mt. Elliot Makerspace, 48217 Health and Community Organization, Hannan House Center for Senior Living, the Ruth Ellis Center and 5E Gallery.

Dr. Leonard will be offering basic computer classes for senior learners at the lab. The classes will include how to use email, how to create email attachments and use the internet. Sign up sheets for community members over the age of 55 can be found at the front desk. Or for more information call 313 623-0956.

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