Early gifts from Dignity Project

Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 3:43 p.m.
The Dignity Project began its celebration of the Christmas season early by giving away two cars and three computers to recipients who qualified through their program in mid-November.
Thomae Robinson received a 1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass in the giveaway.
Robinson is raising her two sisters, ages 14 and 16. She said the vehicle will enable her to get a better job and become more independent. She currently has to take three city buses to get to her job, awaking at 6 a.m. to arrive at work by 9 a.m., Robinson said.
"I'm looking for a new job today. Now I can take my sisters to all their sporting events and even attend all of them," Robinson said.
Yolanda Garcia was the recipient of a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire.
"Having a car will make it easier to get around. Owning a car will make me more mobile, independent and stable," Garcia said.
Garcia has a 5-year-old daughter and said it's often hard waiting for the bus with her child after a long day. Her first trip in the car would be to just go "cruising."
The Dignity Project, located at 1125 SE 4th St., has been serving Gainesville for seven years. It was the brainchild of R. Todd Livingston, who wanted to help individuals learn to repair and refurbish cars, as well as help those who need a working vehicle. The program provides vehicles and computers to those who apply and meet certain criteria, while employing students who learn how to work on both.
To receive a vehicle applicants must: be currently employed; have dependents under 18 years of age living in their household; have custody of the children; be a resident of Alachua or Bradford County; have a valid Florida drivers license; must be able to purchase car insurance when the car is given.
Executive Director Gene Tysowsky describes the computer portion of the program as a hidden gem. Since its beginning more than 400 computers have been given away.
The Dignity Project receives computers from various businesses and institutions in Gainesville, such as Shands HealthCare and the University of Florida, then repairs and distributes them to non-profit agencies and to individuals who qualify for the program.
Recipients must be a non-profit organization, or an individual or family that demonstrates a need or a person who is disabled.
Debra Jackson, Gainesville, said she qualified for a computer through The Dignity Project after hearing about it at another organization, Peaceful Paths. She said she is a bit overwhelmed about receiving a computer and considers it a blessing. Jackson currently is taking a computer class at Santa Fe Community College and said she is looking forward to exploring the Internet world.
Krista Crouch, also a Gainesville resident, said owning a computer is going to mean a lot to her. Her family keeps in touch by e-mail and she often feels out of the loop, Crouch said.
"It's going to be a new world for me and I'm thrilled to death. These people are wonderful," Crouch said.
For more information about The Dignity Project call (352) 371-6792.
Teresa D. Southern can be reached at (352) 337-0373 or at southet@gvilleguardian.com.

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