by Karlton Glick
The internet café at Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Church (Norristown, Pennsylvania) is a place where people get to know each other and take steps to break down the social, educational, and economic barriers of computer technology. We, the church, have created a place that is one part computer center and one part wireless café. The participants are from the community, and are grateful for a low-pressure environment to learn, utilize the Internet, and yes, enjoy a good cup of coffee and a conversation about their relationship with God.
Since I began working with this outreach ministry, I have realized how not having Internet access is a barrier for even entry-level jobs. If you look for work in a fast-food store or grocery store these days, you will not receive a paper application. Instead you are told, “Go online.”
One of our participants was trying to get a job at Wal-Mart but the online application and lengthy screening questions kept her out of the process; she was discouraged. As I helped her navigate the online application, I realized that she knew the answers but just needed a little assistance with the technology. She was rather low-key about it, so I was surprised how excited and happy she became when “Your application has been accepted” flashed on the screen. It reminded me of the times I had been out of work and how much it means to become employed.
Many of our participants are senior citizens looking to learn very basic computer skills. We serve several Latino families and try to provide as much of a bilingual environment as possible. The café also serves children from Precious Life Learning Center who look forward to their computer class each week. Some participants are starting new businesses, and others are looking for jobs. Many are amazed at the free resources available to anyone with Internet access.
The internet café has four regular volunteers and a number of substitutes from Nueva Vida Norristown New Life who host, teach, and share the love of Jesus with our community. It is located in our Center 4 Youth, 21 West Marshall Street in Norristown, just one block from the church. We are open six days a week, and plan to expand our hours on each day.
Karlton Glick is the director of Nueva Vida Norristown New Life’s internet café.