Was Sun's article fair to Lazarus Foundation?Having...

Letters

December 22, 1996

Was Sun's article fair to Lazarus Foundation?

Having cooperated in every way with Dan Morse's effort to write about the Lazarus Foundation for The Sun (Nov. 29), I feel that the record should be set straight. For the past four years, the Lazarus Foundation has assisted other non-profit organizations and educational institutions in the Baltimore/Washington region to acquire computer technology (hardware and software). We have also provided hands-on training to these organizations and individuals in repairing, upgrading and in using the recycled computers. During this time, we have worked long hours and have hosted many events to establish the foundation as a legitimate, non-profit computer recycling organization trying to do good things for our most needy communities.

We have provided more than 1,000 computers to educational institutions and community service organizations, the vast majority at no charge. More specifically, during 1996 more than 500 computers were provided at no cost to the recipients.

Last spring, the Lazarus Foundation hosted the first Tech Day event at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase. During that event, more than 150 refurbished computers were given to schools and other non-profit educational organizations without asking for or receiving any payment in exchange. More recently, on Aug. 3, the Lazarus Foundation orchestrated, "Tech Day II in Baltimore," an event where more than 400 computers were donated to schools and non-profit organizations in Baltimore's Empowerment Zone.

Since much of the technology given to us is either defective or missing components, my colleagues and I spent a significant amount of time determining whether to repair the unit or cannibalize it. Our philosophy is to try to reclaim as much as possible from what is donated. The foundation has tried to maximize the return of our labor by not just repairing computers, but teaching as many other groups as possible how to start their own computer recycling "Lazarus" center.

When I invited Mr. Morse to our workshop on Monday evening, Nov. 25, it was for him to observe the hands-on training session we were putting on for representatives from Baltimore's Empowerment Zone village centers. As I explained to him, to me the story was how members of the Baltimore community were taking the time to travel to Columbia to learn the "Art of Computer Recycling." Apparently, that was not considered newsworthy.

Although many of the donors are aware of the condition of the equipment when donated to us, they may not be aware that in those instances where an upgrade is requested by a recipient, we will ask the recipient to help by picking up those costs associated with upgrading the computer, and/or by providing volunteers from their own organization to assist in the refurbishing. We make this clear in all our conversations with anyone requesting computers and will clarify this point in our printed material when we acknowledge each donation.

I have also learned that I should not expect a reporter to be fair and honest when reporting the facts. Before writing to you, I checked with nearly everyone cited. For the record, your reporter has, in several instances, incorrectly quoted me and has improperly interpreted what I and the representative from the Veterans Administration told him.

I would like to conclude by making a personal request on behalf of the Lazarus Foundation. We would like for The Sun to become a sponsor of our activities either by making a monetary donation or by supporting our efforts in establishing the first Computer Recycling Center in Baltimore's Empowerment Zone. This would enable individuals in Baltimore's most needy area to begin to bridge the gap between the "technology haves" and "technology have-nots."

Donald A. Bard

Columbia

The writer is president of The Lazarus Foundation.

I feel that reporting on the Lazarus Foundation in the Nov. 29 issue of The Sun was very biased.

Dan Morse apparently interviewed organizations or chose quotes selectively to support his story. Nowhere is there mention of other nonprofit organizations such as FIRN (Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network) who are most grateful to Lazarus for providing them with computer capacity which they would not otherwise have been able to afford.

For example, I took in a 286 and Lazarus upgraded it to a 386 with 4 meg of RAM for the minimal cost of the additional RAM. Further, it gave me a VGA monitor (to replace the CGA monitor I had) and video card to install it at no charge. In return, it asked me to help with some of the installation, and knowledgeable volunteers were most helpful about showing me what to do.

There is no way a small non-profit organization such as ours can afford to upgrade without an organization similar to Lazarus.

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