Finksburg Boy Scout helps seniors surf the Net


November 10, 1997|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SEVERAL senior citizens are surfing the Internet and traveling to places beyond Westminster Senior Center, thanks to an ingenious plan by a Finksburg Boy Scout.

Charles Pittinger III, or Charlie as his family and friends call him, pulled together the people and resources needed to hook the senior center to the Internet. He and fellow Scouts trained seniors to use the computer, and Charlie also acts as a source of help -- a hot line for the seniors.

Charlie's success will soon make him an Eagle Scout.

To reach that pinnacle in Scouts, Charlie needed to earn 21 merit badges (he has 41), fill a leadership position for six monthsand complete a service project for a school, community or religious institution.

Throughout his hard work, Charlie, 15, knew a commonly cited statistic: only 2 percent of all Boy Scouts complete the requirements for this high rank. The requirements must be met by age 18.

Dubbed "A Window on the World," Charlie's project not only taps a need in the community, but also his personal interests. The Westminster High School sophomore earned electronics, radio and computer merit badges long ago.

In 1994, he earned his amateur radio license, general class, and he loves to "listen to stuff all over the world."

"I listen to broadcasts from England, and talk to people and listen to voices from so many places. It's incredible," he said.

His Eagle Scout project allows seniors to enjoy a similar thrill.

"They love going to places they have never gone before with World Wide Travel," said Charlene Fischer of the county Bureau of Aging. "One day they pinpointed their homes on a map and printed out a copy. The painting and writing programs are also popular."

No computers were available to seniors at the center before Charlie came along.

"They are getting their childrens' old computers, and they want to use them," Fischer said. "We offered four computer classes through Carroll Community College, and they were filled to capacity. Charlie's work was a great community service. I'm glad he chose us."

As with most undertakings, there were snags. Charlie found it difficult to find donated computer equipment -- new or used -- until he stumbled upon Lazarus Foundation Inc. on the Internet. Located in Montgomery County, the foundation recycles obsolete computer equipment for use by nonprofit groups.

Charlie was able to get most of the parts from the foundation. His father, Charles Pittinger Jr., contributed the remaining items, mostly leftover parts from upgrades of their computers at home. He purchased a modem, too.

"I'm thrilled to have this completed and to know that people who would not have been able to before are now looking at pictures of the Louvre," said Charlie, a member of Troop 143 in Reisterstown, which is led by Tom Sommersville.

"Charlie has been wonderful," said Marjorie Bachman, of the county Bureau of Aging. "We can call him up for help. We have someone who pays attention. The computer people with the county have too many computers to watch on their own. They are glad someone else is keeping up with us."

'Sekon Anyule Spelin Be'

The Bonds Meadow Bombers from Bonds Meadow Rotary, The Sauruses from Carroll County Bank and Trust Co., and the Think Dangerously Wordsmiths from Western Maryland College are a few of the adult teams that will try to out-spell each other at the Sekon Anyule Spelin Be tomorrow night.

Sponsored by the Literacy Council of Carroll County, the event will be far from stress-filled. Participants know in advance that their performance can be fun or serious. Bank on the silly side.

The fun takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers in Westminster. Other teams competing are: the Banker Bees from Carroll County Bank and Trust, Marty's Masons from Masonry Contractors, the Iron Horsemen from Maryland Midland Railway, the Unbees from Union National Bank, the Orthographers from Westminster Rotary, the Cerfers from Random House, and the Class of 2000 from Western Maryland College.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for people who want to buy food. Admission is free.

Information: 410-848-9982

Harmony of Handbells

Ten handbell choirs from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will perform for the Adult Handbell Festival at 7 p.m. Saturday in the New Windsor Middle School gymnasium.

More than 100 ringers will present Christmas tunes such as "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "In the Bleak Mid-Winter." Popular tunes also will be played.

Trumpets, piano and clarinets will join the celebration. Admission is free.

Information: Debbie Henning, 410-848-5482.

Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears Mondays in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 11/10/97

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