A lot of folks could use a hand in finding a job these days. Nowhere is that more true than for residents in recovery at the Oxford Sober Living Homes in Sioux Falls.
In January, after seeing our Eye on KELOLAND story on the Oxford Sober Living Home named after Emily’s Hope, a Dakota State University Computer Science professor thought of a way she and her students could help those striving for a better life. KELOLAND News began following the spring semester project and even though the pandemic slowed the progress, it didn’t stop it.
“The far-reaching effects of a person having the disease of addiction is incredible. And so when I say it takes a community to put all this together–that’s truly what it is. It takes a community,” Rebecca Hungerford said on January 20, 2020
Those words by one of the founders of the Sioux Falls Oxford Houses inspired DSU Computer Science Professor, Barbara Myers, to become part of that helping community. She had an idea of having her students refurbish old computers that could find new life in the homes.
“And I started emailing people and everything just fell into place. We got 20 computers donated,” Myers said.
KELOLAND Media Group donated computers, along with Capital Services.
“A lot of times the non-profits can’t always afford the technology they need, so I thought this would be a good idea–even if it is second hand, they can still use the technology. And I ran it by the students and the students thought it was a great idea,” Myers said.
“I don’t have as much experience or practice doing this–as much as I would appreciate, being able to go into it. But definitely being able to learn is going to be a great experience,” Student Nathaniel Cherry said.
“I was excited about it because it was a good experience and for a good cause,” Student James Rhodes said.
The students hoped to have the computers ready to go by the end of the semester. But then the pandemic hit. Fortunately, a local company stepped forward to help out.
Kevin Huber from IT Outlet was originally going to help the students with the project, but ended up taking it on himself when getting together was no longer a possibility due to COVID-19.
“It just seemed that the compassionate and right thing to do–again quietly was to fix them ourselves and have them ready to go so when you folks called back we are ready,” Huber said.
Misty Thu is in recovery for meth addiction. She’s been living at the Emily’s Hope Oxford Sober Living house for three weeks, hoping to be reunited with her four children soon.
“I came here with a job already, but I want to go back into restaurant management. That’s what my original career is. It will help me put myself out there. And also if my kids were able to come over here, they could use it for their school work. There are a couple of kids here right now who are going to benefit from it right now,” Thu said.
“(They can) Look for employment, polish up their resumes, maybe create a resume for the very first time–but also connect with friends, other family members who live in other cities, to connect with them while they’re here getting on their recovery path and journey,” Rebecca Hungerford said.
And the community that came together in this effort has accomplished much more than just providing a needed technology tool.
“It’s just giving us a hope-that people really do care. People are going to be there for us,” Thu said.
There are four Oxford Sober Living Houses in Sioux Falls and one in the works for Brookings. Each one will have three computers. Once the threat of COVID-19 ends, some of the students plan to help residents learn new programs for job searches and resume writing.
Green Eggs and Ram also donated parts for the computers or offered discounted prices on monitors.
The Oxford Houses are currently working with Microsoft to get discounted licenses for Windows operating systems.