A North Texas man was recently recognized for his efforts to bring computers and technology to those in need.
Representatives with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Boys & Girls Club of Denison honored Douglass Brown on Wednesday with a certificate in acknowledgment of more than a decade of work in refurbishing and donated computers to non-profit groups and other organizations.
This came as Brown was donating about 35 refurbished computers to the Boys & Girls Club Wednesday morning in Denison. In total, Brown estimated that he has donated more than 1,200 computers over the last 15 years.
“I appreciate it, but I don’t do it for that reason,” Brown said. “It is always nice to be appreciated, but the fact that there are young people that have computers that they can use to better themselves and hopefully make a good life for themselves is the real thing.”
Denison Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Ron Nixon said that the summer program has been reduced in size due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With these additional hardware, Nixon said the club has enough computers to allow almost all of the students to have their own.
“It is a great benefit because it allows our kids to continue to code and STEM learning here at the Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “Plus, it allows us to continue our social distancing during this time frame.”
The donation included several laptop computers, which will be used in the teen center to allow for even more distancing and space between students, he added.
Brown, 94, said he first got interested in computers while providing long-term care for his first wife, who was battling cancer at the time.
“My first wife had cancer for 13 and a half years and in the last year she was alive, I had to stay in a room with her 100 percent of the time,” Brown said. “ If you are going to be home 24/7 you better find something to do. I think everyone learned with the pandemic, you need something to do or you are going to go up the walls ... So, I started reading and working on desktop computers.”
Brown said he first started refurbishing and donating computers about 15 years ago when he was approached by a man who was doing floor work in his home. The man said he wanted to give his son a computer for his school work, but was unable to afford one.
“I find today, particularly, there are many, many children that don’t have computers at home,” Brown said. “In this pandemic a lot of them have to do their homework from home.”
Brown said that the average refurbish job takes him about 10 hours to complete. In most months, he can give away about 20 computers — a far cry from the one or two he had in stock when he started his work.
“If I goofed one up, I’d bang my head against the table and say that I’d never make that mistake again, because 50 percent of my inventory just went out the door,” he said.
About 90 percent of the computers Brown donates go to veterans or veteran organizations like the American Legion and VFW. Others have gone abroad to charitable causes in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Africa, among other places.
Darrell Hartley, who serves as a district chaplain for both the VFW and American Legion, has coordinated with Brown on getting the computers to their new homes, including the 35 that were donated to the Boys & Girls Club.
“There is a technological boom and boon going on here at the boys and girls club here in Denison,“ Hartley said.
“You hear the stories in the classroom about the people who discovered America or the United States, but you don’t get the back story. Now you can go to Wikipedia and other sites and see pictures and commentary about how this nation was born.”
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.