Jim Schiavone, a Pine Island resident, has teamed with the Beacon of H.O.P.E. to provide free refurbished computers to Pine Islanders in need of a computer.
Schiavone is an electrician by trade who also went to school for engineering. He has been tinkering with computers since the early 1980s.
"My first computer was a Commodore 64," Schiavone said. "I actually decided to refurbish the first computer purely by accident."
Jim Schiavone has teamed with the Beacon of H.O.P.E. to provide free refurbished computers to islanders.
"Well, I was out with my brother-in-law, who goes 'junking,'" Schiavone said. "He rides around in his pickup truck on trash days and looks for stuff that he can bring in for a little cash. I went with him one day and we came across this old computer sitting on a curb. I picked it up and put it in the truck thinking that computers need to be disposed of properly. Unfortunately too many people just put them in the trash which is wrong. Computers, like many electronics, pose an environmental hazard. So I thought I would see that it didn't end up in the landfill.
"Then I went out with my brother in law again and I picked up another computer, and then another," he continued. "I've always tinkered with computers and from these I assembled a complete working computer, put in a new operating system and a new hard drive and gave it away. I did this about two or three times and realized O.K., people need a computer. Adults, kids in school, and even if they can't afford one they still may need one. So I just thought this might not be a bad thing to do. It doesn't cost me any money, just some of my time, and it helps people."
He went on to say, "I did a small story on Facebook and people began contacting me about computers they wanted to get rid of. It took a few weeks to see what I had gotten myself into. That's when I contacted the Beacon of Hope. They know the people better and who might need a computer. So we began working together where I would pick up computers and parts here and drop off finished computers. That's grown to this point where I actually have a space to work on computers at the Beacon of HOPE."
Schiavone has had a lot of help from Steve Mackellar at All Scrap of Pine Island.
"He's allowed me to pick up computers and parts I need," Schiavone said. "Steve has been a tremendous help not just to me but to the Beacon of H.O.P.E. for many years.
"I think I've refurbished maybe 15 or 20 computers and we have a short waiting list as of today," Schiavone said.
The community can help by donating any broken, used or discarded computers at the Beacon of Hope.
"We can use old PCs, old laptops, peripherals, monitors, boards, mouses, we can use almost anything. Please contact us."
The Beacon of H.O.P.E. Is at 5465 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia. Call 239-283-5123