As we wrap up Family Day here in Ontario, RCT would like to celebrate the many families who we have had the opportunity to share joy with when they receive, for some, their very first personal computers. Family day is an important time to cherish loved ones, and to stop and reflect on the many blessings we have right in front of us.

When we think about computers, it’s difficult to understand the huge impact having a home computer can have on a family. While it is of course a tool for improving education, and digital skills, it also has a significant impact on the lives of families. While everyone has access to a public library in their community, so many of the families RCT serves are single parents, work several jobs, may not have access to a car, and have young children that make it so difficult to coordinate it all.

Each member of the RCT team has a different experience with families whether it is through helping a family complete an application, teaching them the basics of a new computer, troubleshooting a computer problem over the phone, or working with community partners to deliver computers across the province; each tells a different story on just how great an impact a computer can have.

RCT’s Outreach Coordinator works diligently every day to process applicants and get them their computers as soon as possible. While many show thanks and appreciation, there are times when clients leave us speechless. It’s hard to forget the recipients who share that they are starting a new course in Continuing Education, and begin to say in tears that they are so thankful at all the opportunities that a laptop could bring him. “This couldn’t have come at a better time,” the recipient shared. It’s clear that a laptop isn’t just a computer, it’s a tool that continuously opens doors, and reduces barriers.

When RCT’s partners help families bring their computers home, they often get to hear the excitement in person. Our friends at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel shared the story of two mothers who they drove home with their new computers. The mothers were so happy and excited to have the workstations for their boys as both of them had already been making many trips to the Library for their sons’ to access a computer for homework, and on top of many of life’s other responsibilities, this was a source of relief. Technology at home is something that some of us may take for granted, but for others it really is life changing.

Through serving schools, the stories have even better endings. We are blessed to live in such a diverse country that is always welcoming of newcomers, and has schools such as Clark Blvd in Brampton that are consistently supporting them. For many newcomers, a computer plays a major role in helping a child settle in a new country and school system. From being able to access translation tools and helping to communicate and learn a new language, the computer is just one of many resources that breaks down barriers to success. For families, it allows them to access job training, connect with relatives back home and help settle in the community.

Kevin Sebastian, Vice Principal of Clark Blvd shared one of his most touching stories: connecting a family with 4 students, 2 with special needs, to a computer when they needed it most. The family’s laptop had just died and the mother came into his office in tears. She was trying to figure out where she could cut her monthly budget and save up hundreds of dollars for a new computer. This happened to be a week before Clark Blvd’s December campaign with RCT and she was one of the first people who signed up. Having to decide between food/utilities and a computer isn’t a decision any family should have to make, and being able to provide this avenue for families has helped to empower them, and bring light in what looked like a dark situation.

A computer at home gives families the choice to use technology when it’s most convenient for them, and replicates the learning environment at school right from the comfort of a living room. Equal access to technology is something that RCT is proud to support across Ontario. The smiles and stories that are seen, heard, and felt are better than any simple Thank You we could receive.

Happy Family Day from RCT to your families everywhere!