Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More than 1,000 to receive computer training, clerical office skills from inaugural ball initiative

Contact: Tim Chavez

Media Relations Director
Music City Inaugural Charity Ball

Jan, 7, 2009


NASHVILLE -- A computer literacy and job skills training program with the resources and potential to reach more than 1,000 people in its first year will be presented as the major public service project Jan. 20 at the Music City Inaugural Charity Ball at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville.

The program will be initially aimed at Hispanic adults, African-Americans in poor neighborhoods and women -- mostly Caucasian -- needing a second chance after molestation and/or addiction.

The program will be financed by St. Edward Catholic Church and its pastor Joe Pat Breen, and journalist Tim Chavez of Nashville -- one of the organizers of the Music City Ball. Chavez will also serve as director of the program. It is a non-paid position.

The effort will begin at the 27-computer, media center at St. Edward in south Nashville with Hispanic adults. Five high-tech specialists from India, here in Nashville working with a local company on a computer project, will teach the evening classes offered three times weekly ... free of charge at their request.

Chavez developed a personal relationship with the men -- from the same town in southern India -- over a cricket match in Bicentennial Mall. Breen has been an ardent advocate of computer training for the poor and marginalized for their advancement up the economic ladder.

Breen also has agreed to extend the program to other churches and non-profit organizations as long as they have computers and people willing to be helped. A nominal cost of $1 per session will be required from each trainee for a feeling of investment in the program. People feel more ownership in something for which they pay, Breen said.

The church and Chavez will pay for any additional expertise needed for the program, which has plenty of money but not an official name as of yet. Hispanic adults will be recruited from an announcement placed in the weekly bulletin of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church on Nolensville Road near St. Edward.

Breen mostly, and Chavez in a minor role, helped raise $2 million to open, maintain and pay off the debt of the church. Chavez will provide translation help for Hispanic adults while emphasizing the learning of English for full empowerment in American society.

Breen and Chavez, however, vigorously oppose the Jan. 22 English Only referendum.

Three churches and one non-profit have already expressed interest in the program. It will begin with a one-week test run at the beginning of February.

For instance, with the non-profit, the computer specialists would teach software programs that would make its female clients qualified for clerical and secretarial work.

Expansion of the program to children -- to become computer specialists themselves -- could be a next step in the maturation of the program.

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