After more than two years of planning, Providence Baptist Church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on Chicago's Far south Side held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday to mark the opening of a new high-tech center.
"We wanted to have something to meet the needs of the people," said William Foster, Jr., senior pastor at Providence Baptist Church. "That is our motto and our mission statement."
The center, which is housed in an old health food store that was rehabbed by the church, offers laptops for members of the community to use. The computers were purchased through a combination of federal grants, community donations and church fundraisers.
The center's goal is to bridge the technical divide in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
It will offer classes for seniors regarding programs like Microsoft Word and the video communications app Zoom. Classes will eventually serve around 20 people at a time, but as a result of social distancing requirements, the number of participants will initially be limited.
"I think it’s a great thing that we’re able to help those who are in need," said Tasha Berry, program director at the church. "Everyone needs help. We’re here to help."
The center will also offer a place for school-aged children in the community to do remote learning or after school projects during the pandemic.
Due to the city of Chicago's stay-at-home advisory, church leaders said, class offerings may be delayed.