Battle Creek organization donates computer to visually-impaired resident

Published 8:40 am Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rev. Mark Woodford stands next to computers and monitors he donated to Dowagiac resident Rose Bates. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Rev. Mark Woodford stands next to computers and monitors he donated to Dowagiac resident Rose Bates. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Peeling off the silver, metallic panel of a refurbished Dell computer tower, the Rev. Mark Woodford pointed out the neatly tied together wiring connecting the inside components to each other to the family of the machine’s new owner, Rose Bates.

“You will not find this kind of handy work in a regular computer,” Woodford said.

That statement isn’t a simple boast from a craftsman with pride in his work, as it would be hard for anyone to find a computer that was assembled by someone without sight.

Woodford, who is legally blind, donated the customized computer to the Dowagiac woman Saturday, on behalf of the Cereal City Lion’s Club, based out of Battle Creek. Like himself, Bates is vision impaired, and was in need of a new computer that would serve her accessibility needs. After hearing about the service that Woodford and the Lion’s Club were providing to people with disabilities, she reached out to them for help.

“If someone needs something like this, all they need to do is get a hold of us in Battle Creek,”
Woodford said.

Woodford has spent the last three decades building and donating computers to people with disabilities. The pastor said he assembles an average of 200 to 300 machines a year, distributing to them people hailing from Detroit all the way to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“This is the first time we’ve been down to Dowagiac to make a donation,” Woodford said.

Woodford said he has been tinkering with electronics his entire life. Born with multiple medical conditions, the donor said he didn’t walk until he was 7 years old. However, he developed a love for machines at an early age, crawling over to the floor where his grandfather assembled radios and televisions.

“When he was building things, he would take my hand and let me feel the parts,” he said. “As I grew up, I was always taking my toys apart to find out how they worked.”

In recent years, Woodford has been modifying old computers donated to the Lion’s Club by Kellogg Community College, adding new parts and making changes to the cooling systems to improve their long-term reliability.

“I’m very meticulous in my work,” he said. “Your computer belongs in your house, not my shop. The longer it stays in your house, the more use you’ll get out of it.”

Woodford encourages anyone who is sight-impaired  and interested in receiving a donated computer to contact him at (269) 660-8433.