After-school program seeks volunteers

By Marley Sherwood

Eyes wide open, Ciara Reynolds, 12, and Shannon Walsh, 11, sit at an iMac inside the Computer Clubhouse on Rainsford Street. They are working with Photoshop for a project.

The girls are part of South West Inner City Network Computer Clubhouse, which has long offered after-school programs for children in the Liberties and is looking for new volunteers.

“It’s so much fun!” Walsh said. “I come here after school to work on so many projects. We play games, work with circuit boards, write play scripts, learn robotics and even record songs.”

The Computer Clubhouse is a worldwide initiative sponsored by Intel. It allows children to learn new artistic skills through the use of technology at no cost.

Gina Brocker – the clubhouse’s 30-year-old coordinator – and two other employees are in charge of assisting the 48 children members and finding volunteers and mentors to help out. The Clubhouse can hold approximately 100 members.

Due to the dire need for mentors and volunteers, Brocker invites previous members and locals to come and share their interests and knowledge with the children.

“I have found it has been difficult though throughout the recession to find people who will take their time and volunteer here,” Brocker said.

Brocker, who moved to Dublin from the States, hopes community members will get involved.

“I think what’s great about this club, rather than other youth work houses, is that it gives the kids a chance to do their own projects and choose their own ideas, even at the age of 8,” Brocker says, “They can use industry standard software and are taught how to use it by mentors for no cost.”

Deborah Croly, whose 9-year-old son Liam is a member, finds the clubhouse a great way to keep him busy after school.

“During the winter time, there is nowhere for the kids to go and play; this is safe, and they can learn and have fun for no cost. It’s brilliant,” said Croly.

Employees said the program is not well known locally, although a majority of the members live in the Liberties.

“I try to let the local schools know about us to try and get more children to come,” Brocker said. “I would like to have more teenagers attend.”

There is currently little funding from the community for the program. Brocker said she is looking for more revenue to pay for things Intel does not.

“I would love to have enough funds to have a shuttle to help the kids get here after school, or even enough for some snacks would be great,” Brocker said.

The Clubhouse is open five days a week, and children can come by for several hours a day.

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