But for the dream of one young man, the dedication of a new computer room in the Greenmount Recreation Center yesterday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony never would have happened.
A small, yellow room with more than a dozen state-of-the-art computers -- all donated by the Microsoft Foundation, with Pentium II processors, 64 megabytes of random access memory and 17-inch color monitors -- began as an idea from Vivek Baluja, a Johns Hopkins University premed student who had tutored at the city recreation center at 2304 Greenmount Ave.
Determined to connect computers to the lives of inner-city youths, Baluja harnessed the energy of friends, professors and community leaders in a frenetic fund-raising campaign last year that netted more than $150,000 in equipment and funds from private sources.
"It has been a serious community effort," Baluja, 21, said in a brief address to the group. "And if this thing works, we can duplicate this project everywhere in Baltimore."
Other major contributors were the Enterprise Foundation and the Abell Foundation, which gave $70,000 and $40,000, respectively.
The recreation center director, Edward Banks, said the computer room would "uplift" the Barclay and Waverly communities in East Baltimore. "The kids are really anxious to get in there and play with the computers," he said.
The East Baltimore Midway community development corporation president, Charlene Ames, said Internet access would help area youths find good jobs. "This is an excellent opportunity for our community to enhance their skills for the 21st-century job market," Ames said.
Introductory classes will be offered to community adults and youths for $30, though scholarships will be available, recreation officials said.
Garvine Chambers, 36, said he was starting from scratch on the ergonomically curved computer keyboard. "I feel like I'm sitting at a piano, being creative. I'm really excited," said Chambers, a former trucker seeking a new job.
A Hopkins doctor who gave time and money to the project, Hugo Moser, said he considered the computer room a promising experiment that could be applied on a larger scale. But, he reminded listeners, the results remain to be seen: "The next few months is what counts."
BTC Pub Date: 2/22/98