reBOOT Canada makes a difference, high-tech style

Charity provides low-cost computers for other charities

reBOOT Canada helps charities stay organized by giving them refurbished computers.

The charity was founded 16 years ago by Honeywell software developer Colin Webster, who knew there was a great need for inexpensive technology.

“Colin was walking down the hall at his work one day and saw a pile of computers just sitting there. The company had replaced and upgraded their equipment. He wanted to re-use the computers, so he started reBOOT Canada,” said Don Inouye, reBOOT’s president.

The charity, located on Lawrence Avenue East, accepts donations of old computers and computer parts, then distributes them to non-profit charities and low-income individuals for just the price of extra parts. A computer with a monitor, Microsoft Office, and Windows, for example, costs about $140.

According to Inouye, Webster put what would have been garbage to good use.

reBOOT gave computers to over 500 charities and received over 200 donations last year. The charities must qualify to use the service.

reBOOT also offers an equipment pickup program for people making large donations, and it has a reconnect program, which sets up computer labs in seniors’ centres and in drop-in locations.

“It’s fantastic,” Inouye said. “The reconnect program allows seniors to have free and unlimited access to computers. It allows them to send emails to their family, do their online banking, and even vote online. For some seniors, it is their first time using a computer.”

The program also accepts co-op students from high schools and universities and has a technical support team on staff. The charity currently has six high school co-op students who help assess the quality of equipment donated.

“Computers are expensive. If you donate to a charity, the last thing you want your money spent on is a computer,” Inouye said.

reBOOT charges a small fee for computer equipment that’s donated but has no use. The Ontario Environmental Stewardship program is the reason behind the fee.

“It costs money to dispose of equipment. It runs us $17.50 to $35.50 to dispose of old monitors,” Inouye said.

Some recent charities reBOOT Canada has donated to are the Learning Enrichment Foundation and Riversides.