Each year, the KEYSPOT public access computer centers in Philadelphia receive over 80,000 visits from a range of community members. KEYSPOT visitors come with varied needs and interests, from learning basic computer skills, to 3-D printing and making music online. Recently, Digital Inclusion Program Specialist Bria Spivey sat down with one frequent visitor at the Philadelphia FIGHT KEYSPOT, Rick Cook. As a returning citizen eager to learn the latest in technology, Mr. Cook has been taking computer classes for over eight months with his Digital Literacy Instructor, Miguel Vargas. Mr. Cook agreed to say a few words about why Philadelphia FIGHT’s KEYSPOT is important to him.
How did you learn about KEYSPOT? What made you choose the Philadelphia FIGHT location?
Rick Cook: “I learned about the Philadelphia FIGHT AIDS Library KEYSPOT through a couple of guys at a re-entry organization in which I’m involved. I was searching for a place that I could take computer courses and learn how to use a cellphone, those types of things. The re-entry organization mentioned it to me and I went to [the Institute of Community Justice– a second Philadelphia FIGHT KEYSPOT] and the staff at ICJ told me that this location [Philadelphia FIGHT] was starting the computer classes shortly so that’s what made me get here.”
What resource(s) have you used the most at this KEYSPOT? Why?
RC: “Probably the computer lab. We have digital literacy classes here, so as I learn in class, I use the computer lab to strengthen my skills. [My classes have] allowed me to become more familiar and not as afraid of using the computer. I had not used a computer for a long time and [the KEYSPOT lab] allows me to strengthen my skills rather than just leaving with the knowledge.”
Why were you afraid of using computers?
RC: “My particular situation, coming from incarceration [where] we didn’t have an opportunity to use computers or cellphones or tablets on a regular basis. I think that’s where the intimidation came from. The fact that I was just totally oblivious to the new technology. When I came home I didn’t even know how to turn on a cellphone. When I came [to Philadelphia FIGHT] and started to use some of the [technology], I felt more and more comfortable and I was able use the lab to practice and ask questions. I still have some problems (Cook laughs) but, there is definitely a 180 degree change in how I feel about technology now.”
Do you feel that the resources KEYSPOT provides have helped improve any parts of your life? If so, which parts of your life?
RC: “Wow. Yes! Again, being able to communicate and use a cellphone or social media [after] having never used the internet has changed most aspects of my life. I can use a cellphone now to find out when the next bus is coming and for my particular situation all the aspects of my life have been changed because of what I have learned [about] the technology.”
Has anyone at FIGHT truly impacted you in a positive way? If so, how & why?
RC: “Several people. Miguel Vargas, Alandrea [the Adult Education Supervisor], Ally [Library and Digital Literacy Director], it’s been several people. Even the people that I come in and speak to everyday, Marcie and Robin, because the way the organization operates is that you can go to any one of them and get help. If I can’t catch up with my primary teacher I have the other employees that work in the lab or at the desk [to] get information from or help. They are above and beyond welcoming [and] allowing you to feel comfortable and get information.”
What has been your most memorable moment at this KEYSPOT and why?
RC: “When I finished some of my first classes. I had my first iPad and it was like a brand-new toy for a grown man. My brother had purchased it for me and I didn’t know how to use it. So, I ran to class and sat down with Miguel and he helped me program it and put some apps on it. I even help some of my family members now!”
We would like to thank Philadelphia FIGHT for coordinating this interview. Do you know someone who wants to sign up for digital literacy classes? You can get in touch with FIGHT here:
Library & Digital Literacy Director
1233 Locust Street, 2nd Floor
215 985 4448 ext 143