Call it the gift that keeps on giving for countless underprivileged New Yorkers.
Last Friday, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez presented Make The Road By Walking – a Bushwick-based political action group – with 23 refurbished personal computers, which were delivered to their outreach center at 301 Grove Street.
The event drew a crowd of more than 50, which gave the Congresswoman numerous standing ovations, shouting "Digate" over and over again as the computers were wheeled inside.
According to Evelyn Cruz, Velasquez’s assistant, the computers had belonged to the congressional staff, and were only about two years old. Along with the 23 donated to Make the Road, Velazquez also donated five to St. Cecilia’s Church in Greenpoint, and three to the not-for-profit Bushwick Housing Independents, located at St. Barbara’s Church.
For Make The Road, which has a history of empowering the immigrant populations in their surrounding communities, the computers will provide access to English and adult literacy programs, and help bridge the digital divide between parents and their children.
Meanwhile, for her good deed, Velasquez was presented with a plaque by one of the group’s board members, Mary Lebron, who saluted her "untiring support and dedication for the community."
The congresswoman, in turn, said she enjoyed reaching out to grassroots-level activists like Make The Road, claiming it "recharges her batteries," and gives "meaning to her work in [Washington], D.C."
Back in 2002, Velasquez donated $500,000 to Make The Road, which helped the group get off the ground. Five years later, not only did her office provide new computers, but the gift coincided with an additional $500,000 donation for new educational programs.
All the new resources should make a big difference for attendees like Marcia Camacho, who first visited Make The Road’s outreach center last September. The Bushwick resident, whose answers required translation from Spanish, said she was looking forward to increasing her computer literacy.
"I was in [Make The Road’s] computer class and didn’t know anything," Camacho recalled. "But I learned, and that feels good."