Service Providers, cont.

On a warm evening in July, three kids, each accompanied by at least three grownups, could be seen carrying computers and printers from the chaplains’ house on Main Street.

The kids were graduates of the first Learning Connection class, sixth-graders at Lincoln School in Bethlehem. The adults helping them were their parents and a representative of the company that donated the hardware, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., as part of its Computers for Kids program.

The Learning Connection (known on campus as TLC) is the special baby of community-service coordinator Phyllis Walsh. The Moravian students who had been TLC mentors worked for three years with these children, tutoring them as needed and introducing them to campus life and age-appropriate extracurricular activities as an incentive to stay in school.

Nixsaly Rivera, for example, was chosen for TLC through a program at Lincoln that identifies children with the potential to go to college. Her mentor was Danielle Joseph ’02, a recent graduate in Spanish and political science.

Danielle was more than a tutor, said Nixsaly, who (like the others) is 12 and entered the seventh grade at Northeast Middle School in Bethlehem this fall. “A tutor is just helping you learn things,” she explained. “With the mentor, you go different places, you learn what it’s like to be in a college setting, and you work on what needs improvement.”

The TLC kids aren’t at-risk students in the sociological sense, said Walsh. They’re smart kids with home problems that tax their learning skills. At least two in this group have a severely handicapped sibling who requires much of the family’s quality time and often much of its financial resources as well. And there are students like Nixsaly, whose mother, Lissette Martinez, is a student in her own right, working on a degree in early childhood education at Northampton Community College.

The TLC students who got their computers this summer—and their parents—also got some concentrated training from Mike Preston ’01 of EDS.

TLC is one of the outlets for Computers for Kids, explained Jim Yanora of Air Products, who came along for the giveaway. The computers are recycled from Air Products offices that are being upgraded. They come with printers and modems, though the kids’ parents decide if they want to pay for an Internet hookup.

To what use will they put their new computers? “My homework,” said Josh Meixell. “Games. Drawing. Writing essays and stuff.”

Nixsaly already has had a computer of her own, said her mother, but her updated one will allow her to give the old one to her cousin. “We’ll pass it along, just like clothes,” she said.

Fernando Carlo Santiago III was the first to claim his computer on that July afternoon, and he discovered that it took three people to carry it: He took the keyboard, his father (Fernando Carlo Santiago II) the monitor, Yanora the printer. This three-link human chain inched carefully down the narrow stairs of the old house.

“Oh!” said Walsh as the Santiago procession left the building. “I must send everybody off with a hug.” And she ran down the stairs to catch up with them.

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At right, Fernando Carlo Santiago III gets a few computer tips from Mike Preston ’01 of EDS.

Photo: John Kish IV