Grant provides new computer systems

SYCAMORE – Staff and volunteers at Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore were excited to learn the hospital hospitality house had been awarded a $3,000 community needs grant by the DeKalb County Community Foundation to purchase new computers.

“We have been using a donated computer that is 10 years old and near capacity,” executive director Jea Nae Remala said. “It will be nice to have a faster system with more memory and current programs that will allow us to run our new software.”

Pay-It-Forward House volunteer Eric Crane, a computer systems project manager and programmer, has developed a donor-tracking system, an online volunteer sign-up system and a registration system for the guests who stay at the house.

“We now have a system that allows volunteers to access an electronic online calendar to sign up for one of the many shifts each week that keep the house open and running,” Remala said. “Our wonderful volunteers are busy people, and the new system allows them to sign up at their convenience from home instead of having to drive to the house to see which shifts are open.”

The new guest registration software lets volunteers quickly see who is staying at the house, which rooms are occupied, and register new guests more efficiently.

Part of the grant funds were used to purchase a touchscreen computer to make the system as easy as possible for volunteers. Automation allows the organization to operate with only a few part-time employees, and keep costs as low as possible.

“We want to make our services affordable to everyone who needs them,” explained Remala. “And we are funded by donations and grants that come primarily from the generosity of the people of DeKalb County. We feel responsible for being good stewards of their donations. Improving efficiency to keep costs down is very important to us.”

These recent technology upgrades are an example of Crane, the DeKalb County Community Foundation and the philanthropists it represents paying it forward.

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