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Free computer classes in Westchester

Rodolfo Roman
Special to The Miami Herald
For over 24 years, Roberto Rodriguez worked at a Miami hardware
supplier as a dispatcher.
But, his heart condition refrain him from continuing to work at
Everglades Lumber and
he was laid off.
Now, Rodriguez, a native of Nicaragua, has set new goals in
hopes of opening a business in his homeland using a computer.
“I used to be afraid of it,” Rodriguez, 67, referring to a computer.
On a recent Wednesday, he joined 11 other students who learned
the ins-and-outs of the technical machine at the West Dade Regional
Library, 9445 s.w. 24th St., part of the bi-monthly Computer Program.
“I don’t fear it anymore,” said Rodriguez, who has not
determined what business he will open, but added a computer will be
Librarians Miguel Martell and Daniel Shea teach the free
course. Students don’t have to have a library card to participate, but
registration is required. Students can register two classes at a time.
Only 12 students are taught in the hour class using laptops. The
library has over 50 computers. Classes are taught in English and
Average age range per student, who attends is roughly from 40 to over
60 years old.
The class started three years ago, when the library wanted to
encourage the public to open an e-mail account.
“We found that most of them didn’t know how to use the computer,”
said Martell.
However, the public has responded to the classes with opened arms.
“People here learn the classes,” said Shea. “You get so much
appreciation from them.”
Martell leads the class showing a power point presentation
showcasing step-by-step on learning to turn on and off a computer.
Everything from keyboard and mouse usage is taught. Also, librarians
teach students how to use Microsoft Word and how to log onto the
library’s website. Shea walks around the class answering questions
from students.
Caridad Llizo took the class for the first time.
“I want to keep up with all the information out there,” she said.
“I want to keep up with the world.”
Students are also taught how to use search engines such as
Google and Yahoo.

The second-floor West Dade Regional Library, which is the
second largest library in Miami-Dade county, carries several books
computer usage, which are on display at the class. The activity is
held on the second floor’s auditorium. Classes are held every other
Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. The next class is September 28. Other
library branches offer the classes too.
Westchester resident Marta Castaño is unemployed and is hoping
to learn a computer in an effort to find work.
“It’s important to learn how to use a computer, if not it is
almost like you are illiterate,” she said.
As for Rodriguez, who moved to the United States about 30 years
ago, he said he plans to return home with lots of computer knowledge.
“It is hard to find a job here,” he said. “I want to prove to my
friends back home that at least I learned something.”

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