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Afterschool study and job training at their fingertips

March 31, 2012

Young people involved in the YouthWorks411 program at Family Resources try out the new computer at 55 Main St. in Woonsocket. From far left are Vilmarie Comacho, Brooke Poirier, and Sahonda Holden.

WOONSOCKET – Local young people will have a new opportunity for career training and online work research thanks to a donation from the GTECH Corporation to the Family Resources Community Action YouthWorks411 Center, at 55 Main St.
GTECH President and CEO Jaymin B. Patel joined Family Resources Executive Director Benedict F. Lessing Jr., along with staff and program members this week in unveiling the just-completed and fully-furnished computer lab.
The computer center work is part of GTECH's After School Advantage program that aims to improve afterschool study and training opportunities for at-risk young people.
GTECH not only provided the eight state-of-the-art computer stations and related software located in the lab as part of the lab's more than $10,000 cost, but also the computer furniture, wiring, lighting, and even the paint needed to refurbish the former program classroom.
YouthWorks411 Center participants will be able to use the new computers to work on educational projects and studies complementing their work in school or GED programs, and also be able to research a variety of job opportunities and the skills they must learn to obtain them.
The new equipment donated by GTECH to the center is another example of the lottery equipment and software company's commitment to the communities in which it does business, Patel told the gathering on Wednesday.
“We are opening the doors to a new state-of-the-art computer lab and it is important that it comes at a time when Woonsocket is facing a major financial crisis like many other towns and cities across the United States, as we are all well aware,” he said.
It is also important, Patel said, that during that time of crisis, the Family Resources Center will remain a steady presence in the lives of Woonsocket youth with its support staff and the many different programs it offers,” he said.
“Today, we aren't just opening the doors to a computer lab, we are opening the doors of opportunity for Woonsocket youth and that is what is important to our company,” Patel said.
GTECH has contracts in 55 countries around the world and provides lottery services for 27 states in the U.S. including Rhode Island. The Providence-based company, the largest of its kind in the world, employs about 6,000 people in all of its operations, according to Patel. It also has an annual internship program for college students, and Patel said he has seen many young people come to work for the company in the technology area and grow into young software engineers and technicians who help produce the programs GTECH provides its customers.
The opportunity for Woonsocket’s young people to access the same high-level computer equipment in their local lab could help them set off on their own future careers, he said.
That would be a perfect outcome from GTECH's investment in the lab, Patel noted.
“I hope it sparks some interest in computers for local youth and gives them the skills necessary to build a life for themselves,” he said.
Lessing said he believes the new lab will help local young people find an interest in a future career.
“This is one of the most important things that we do because we are in the business in this program of getting young people off to a good start in terms of their future employment,” he said.
“This computer lab represents a tool that we will use on a daily basis to improve the lives of our young people,” Lessing added.
The gathering. which also included City Councilmen Marc Dubois, Daniel Gendron and Christopher Beauchamp, and city Economic Director Matt Wojcik, also heard Jose Vazquez and Rickie Dethsouvanh tell of the work they have already been able to do at the center.
Vazquez and Dethsouvanh told of how the old computers at Family Resources would frequently freeze up on their projects and now they will no longer experience those problems in the new lab.
After listening to the remarks by Patel, Lessing, and GTECH's Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Robert K. Vincent, the gathering took a tour of the new lab and enjoyed refreshments and cupcakes afterwards.

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