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0719 Friends of children chromebooks

Mentors Jose Hernandez and Jon Glidewell and program director Crystal Muno show off the 45 Chromebooks and carrying bags recently delivered to the Friends of the Children clubhouse.

Klamath Falls — Through telehealth appointments and Zoom chats, virtual music lessons and book club meetings, Americans with access to technology have found ways to stay healthy and social and to continue their education despite COVID-19 closures and restrictions.

Nearly 50 more children across Klamath County soon will have access to such opportunities, thanks to cloud service provider Opus Interactive and generous individual philanthropists.

Oregon-based Opus Interactive and an anonymous donor donated 45 Chromebooks to Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin, which provides professional mentoring for children facing multiple systemic obstacles. The Chromebooks, combined with those donated during Friends of the Children’s recent “Friend Raiser” fundraiser, will mean an at-home device for every child enrolled in the program.

“We learned about Friends of Children through the Leadership Trust. And, it was like, there’s an organization in Klamath Falls whose youth were not only facing challenges with access and online learning – but they’re also unable to connect with valuable relationships and mentoring that could change their futures. We need to help,” said Opus Interactive CEO Shannon Hulbert.

“As a cloud service provider, we always say connecting people with technology is our life’s work. And, we advocate to generate awareness for STEM-related careers and bridging the digital divide. This was an easy decision. And, we were beyond grateful to learn that an anonymous donor was also interested in helping. That just goes to show how important the work is that Friends is doing.”

That work is creating generational change by providing professional, one-on-one mentoring for youth for 12+ years, kindergarten through high school graduation. During COVID-19, the nonprofit’s 27-year mentoring model has become physically distant and virtual, but its support for youth has been more vital than ever.

“COVID cut off our kids from many of the stabilizing factors in their lives, not only their teachers but also their counselors and mentors,” said Johanna Scholer, interim executive director of the Friends Klamath Basin chapter. “We are committed to continue standing by them no matter what, but our surveys showed 45 percent of our families were worried about reliable access to technology at home. These Chromebooks mean that we can stay connected with our youth no matter what happens with schools this fall, and no matter what the COVID restrictions are in our community. We could not be more grateful.”