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Repent and Believe
Carl from the CTC
May-June Network Journal

CTC Writing Contest
by Scott MacLeod

On April 22, the results of the first CTC Writing Contest were announced. Participants addressed the question, "How has the Computer Training Center affected my life?" Winners in both adult and youth categories received gift certificates for Borders Books. Space limitations prevented us from publishing entire essays here. However, we have provided highlights from both first place essays.

Tammy Irwin - 1st Place, Adult Category

Addicts, Addicts Everywhere
and Not a Dime to Spare,
Yet Now at Last A Typing Haven
With Free Web and Excel Lessons.
And Even more than Good Advice
or A Friendly Ear
or the Use of a Quality Computer
for a couple of hours
in the not so nice part of town,
You will Obtain Magical Tools
Enabling You To Whir
and Stir and Create and Write
If You Dare To Find the Magic
that lives inside of you
that always has.

We meet and come to the Tenderloin Computer learning Center with different backgrounds, different values, different personalities, different ways of viewing the world and even the Tenderloin neighborhood, even different goals from what we want out of using this resource center. I believe, though, that despite all of these very diverse and complex differences which may make it very hard for us to see eye to eye at times and form friendships, which may or may not even be the goal of coming here, we do have one important thing in common which I believe cannot and moreover should not be overlooked. This resource was created for persons of low-income and I will be the first to admit that being of the low-income poverty level is of a deep sense of shame and humiliation for me, but it is a fact of life for me right now….

So despite our personality differences, our substance abuse or lack of issues or he's cool, she's not, high school stuff, what binds us together is we need this place because we can't right now afford to either own our own computers or take other more costly classes…

I walked through the Tenderloin computer learning center door to write a book that I have been planning to write for many years. It was my yellow brick road opportunity… I like to think of the Tenderloin computer learning center in terms of the Wizard of Oz. I grew up in Paramus New Jersey in the suburbs in a four-room house and now I am dirt-poor living in a welfare hotel in the slums of a big city. I say to my cat sometimes, I have a feeling we're not in New Jersey anymore. Likewise, Dorothy said in the movie, "Sometimes you never have to leave your own backyard." So maybe what that means for me as a writer… is I don't have to leave my new neighborhood the Tenderloin to do that…

I feel blessed and fortunate to have found the computer learning resource center as a haven to work on my book… I always feel welcome. I never feel as if I am an imposition or as if I am causing anybody undue stress by making excessive demands on their time with too many questions as I often do feel in other situations in my life. Here I feel and am treated as an equal. Other places I feel that I have to look for my ruby red slippers and put them on angrily and click my heels together fast and furiously saying "There's no place like home. There's no place like home." When I'm here sitting in front of a computer typing either my book, checking my email or surfing the web, I'm already symbolically wearing Dorothy's slippers. For me, the Tenderloin Computer Learning Resource Center is like home.

Su Tran - 1st Place, Youth Category

I have been to the computer lab since the sixth grade. When I first heard about it, I didn't know if a place like this even existed. I was talking to Cindy about how I needed a computer to do my project. She told me there was a computer lab in the Tenderloin. I was shocked to hear there was a place like this.

A few years later, everything was perfect. I was meeting new people as more kids came to the lab… But then Fran (the previous Jesuit Volunteer) told us she was going to leave. We were sad when we heard the news because she was so nice and she was more than just our computer lab supervisor, she was also one of our best friends…

I learned how to be patient with the computers. They were slow at first. I was patient with them and was rewarded with the new and improved computers upstairs. I learned that when you miss someone, you should keep in contact with him/her to reduce the pain. I did that with Fran. I learned to share the computers with others. When we didn't have enough computers, I just got off and let the person use it. I was rewarded because Matt suggested opening downstairs for the people who didn't have a computer to work on. I learned how working together could make something magnificent. A few months ago, the kids worked on a cardboard house. They all worked on it, and I saw how it was progressing each snack time…

By the time it was done, I was amazed at how many little kids can work together, do the best they can and come up with a miniature house. Even though I didn't work on it, the kids that did taught me that if you set your mind to something, you could achieve.