Donation means new computers, printers for Fresh Start

Published 9:27 am Friday, December 3, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - It may not be Christmas just yet, but Charlie McAfee and the staff at Project Fresh Start have several presents to open.
Because of a $10,000 gift from the Wood Foundation, the program was able to purchase some much needed equipment, including 10 new Dell computers, copier/scanner/printer units, and an Emerson television/ VCR and DVD player.
The Wood Foundation is a private foundation recently set up in Niles for educational, charitable and scientific purposes primarily benefitting residents of the greater Niles area.
The 11-year-old program, which is run by the Multicultural Involvement Council and housed at the Michiana Christian Embassy, is designed to help expelled students to return to the regular school program as productive, well-behaved individuals.
Last January the program celebrated its 10-year anniversary, with Niles City Mayor Michael McCauslin proclaiming Jan. 15 to be "Charlie McAfee Day" in the City of Niles.
The program serves the Niles, Brandywine, and Buchanan school districts, but has been known to take in expelled students from other areas.
While the students do not receive class credit while participating in the program, it does help them keep pace with their peers who are attending class in a regular school setting.
In addition to the new technology equipment, the program also purchased several hard-cover books, which typically cost about $98, McAfee said, covering various subjects like math, science, geography, and English.
McAfee, who is the director of the Project Fresh Start program, said the computers will help the program set up a computer lab so students can use the latest educational software.
McAfee noted the program had four older computers prior to receiving the new computers, but they were unable to support newer software being released which would benefit the students. The program uses a mix of educational software to promote a fun environment for the students to learn in, helping to specialize the experience for each student involved.
Matthew Wilson, 13, an eighth-grader in the program, is excited because not only will he get the chance to use the new equipment in his studies, he's also helping to set up the equipment as it is unpacked.
Last year, four Niles High School students graduated who had participated in Project Fresh Start.