The Coastal Post - September, 1997

Marin As I See It

Where Buck's Bucks Don't Stop

BY SANFORD I. GOSSMAN

For several years I have been hearing about the monster trust fund left by Beryl Buck to be used to benefit the low-income people of Marin County. Although millions of words have been written in the contexts of fighting over the money, reporting the fights, or commenting about them, one neglected entity seems to have been ignored: The Marin Computer Resource Center. This is the brainchild and time-and-energy-sucker of James Burgett and his wife Ilma.

Founded in January of 1994, the MCRC is in the non-profit business of playing Robin Hood with discarded computer equipment. Whatever the brand, age, type, or category of computer equipment, James, his wife, or one or two of his many volunteers will come to your place of business or residence and haul it away. Once in-house, the equipment is evaluated and is either only cleaned, or it is upgraded, repaired, cannibalized, or stripped for the value of the precious metal it contains. Computers from MCRC find new homes as close as a block or two away to as far away as you can get from here: places like China, South Africa, and Russia in the homes of low-income or disabled individuals, in schools, and other non-profit organizations.

The cost to do this good work isn't cheap. Last year the budget exceeded $250,000 with ALL of it being generated from the direct efforts of the MCRC. That is, NO MONEY WAS DONATED. It should have been. I'm pissed about that. So are a lot of other people. That's why I am writing about the MCRC this month. (Why John Montgomery has earned the 1997 Distinguished Disservice Award will have to wait until next month.) No entity in Marin (landlord, local government, the phone company, etc.) is giving any special deals to the MCRC, leaving it on the brink of failure. And the word has gotten out. The cities of Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hartford, Connecticut, have offered a FREE home for the MCRC-all much larger than the current Marin facility-and, in the out-of-state offer, a most-decent salary for James and Ilma too.

The MCRC needs your help. At this juncture, that translates to money. (In the warehouse, the computer equipment literally goes from floor to ceiling. But more is always welcome.) When something this good leaves Marin because the people here with public money or private discretionary money won't throw some of it towards the MCRC, it's certainly where some of Buck's bucks ought to stop.

So, Marin, what are you waiting for? The MCRC is too good to lose. You folks with ties to the needed funds need to start loosening the knots in the ropes you have tied around it. Soon. Like NOW! As to you others, know that the MCRC will graciously accept your money or it will sell you a completely-outfitted computer, with color and a CD-ROM drive, for as little as $450. It won't be the latest, but it will be a 486 or better, will work, is guaranteed, and comes with minimal hand-holding as needed. Certainly, it is damn well more than worth the money.

The MCRC is located in San Rafael, at 757 Lincoln Ave., in unit 19. The phone number there is 454-4227. Help James and Ilma continue to make a difference in Marin, where, as the name implies, the Marin Computer Resource Center ought to stay.

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