By Pablo J. Sáinz
Every afternoon after school, Carmen Balderrama’s two children, Aquilis and Aragon, make a stop at the Cox Tech Center in San Ysidro to do their homework and to use the computers to play educational games.
Balderrama said that since sometimes can’t help them with school work because of her limited English, she takes them to the center, managed by Casa Familiar, a social services agency in San Ysidro.
“My children read books on the computers,” she said. “They also use educational programs. They also get help with their homework, because I really can’t help them that much.”
She added that her oldest son, Aragon, who is six and is in first grade, already is seeing the results of using the Cox Tech Center, which is located at 268 East Park Ave., in the heart of San Ysidro.
“He already knows how to read,” said a smiling Balderrama. “He knows how to use the computer without any problem. I’m very proud of my children, and thankful for this computer center.”
On Thursday, Dec. 11th, Casa Familiar had the official grand opening of the Cox Tech Center, which provides free internet service to low-income families in San Ysidro and is made possible thanks to a grant from Cox Communications, San Diego’s leading cable and internet service provider.
The celebration was attended by many children and their families who regularly use the tech center after-school.
“We are proud to partner with Cox Communications to provide free Internet access to the families of SanYsidro”, said Andrea Skorepa, CEO of Casa Familiar. “The new Cox Tech Center will give digital access and opportunity to children of all age and to adults in their continuing education and other pursuits.”
Cox Communications will also provide a total of $1,250 in scholarshipsto children who regularly attend the Cox Tech Center as an incentive to encourage them to continue doing their homework and research projects at the center.
“Cox Communications is pleased to support the community of San Ysidro through the Cox Tech Center,” said Cami Mattson, director of Community Relations for Cox Communications. “We’re helping students and the community at large to bridge the digital divide in San Ysidro.”
That digital divide has been greatly reduced since the Cox Tech Center first open in San Ysidro more than a month ago, according to Maritza Rivera, community and youth advocate and volunteer coordinator for Casa Familiar.
“This is really great,” said Rivera, who also manages the after-school tutoring program and oversees operation of the Cox Tech Center.
Rivera added that there are 20 registered students, and the number keeps growing everyday. In addition to access to the computers, students also receive tutoring from local high school students.
The center has 16 computers with high-speed internet access, and many educational programs.
Michael Zermeño, a 9-year-old third grade student, comes to the center Monday through Thursday. He said that he’s able to access online websites such as RazKids and spelling sites there.
“I don’t have Internet at home,” Michael said, while typing an essay for school. “This is the only place where I can go online to do my homework.”
To learn more about the services offered in Casa Familiar, and to learn more about the Cox Tech Center in San Ysidro, please visit www.casafamiliar.org.