Residents gathered at the community center at 300 West Street in Hollister for the open house of a new technology center on Feb. 1. The center is the result of a partnership between Hollister Recreation, Jovenes de Antaño and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
The Empowering Hispanic America to Technology, or EHAT, technical center, includes 10 desktop computers with internet access and a printer at no cost to the community, thanks to a $10,000 AT&T grant awarded to LULAC. In an effort to increase internet access in the Latinx community, LULAC created the EHAT program in response to President Bill Clinton’s national call to action in 2000 to increase digital access to Americans.
Mickie Luna, former Hollister council member and founder of San Benito County’s LULAC Council 2890, said only four organizations in the country were awarded the grant. She said the technical center has been a city goal for over 30 years, and that it’s important because it will serve the senior community as well as underprivileged students.
“That computer center will open doors for so many people and that’s what we want,” Luna said. There are 67 other LULAC technology centers in the nation.
While the grant covered purchasing the equipment, Luna asked for the community’s help with maintenance, which includes paying for internet access and supplies such as printer ink and paper. The internet account is seperate from the Hollister Recreation Department.
“If you know anybody that can help us out, form a partnership with us, and make a donation toward the cost of the maintenance of that center, then we’re very well off,” Luna said. She recognized Supervisor Jim Guillio for his donation toward supplies.
As attendees toured the tech center, Luna took the opportunity to note that the Carl M. Luck Memorial Library in San Juan Bautista is looking to offer computer and internet access to its residents. After hearing this, LULAC Chief Executive Officer Sindy Benavidesa pledged a donation of five laptops.
Pauline Valdivia, executive director of Jovenes de Antaño, said the tech center will open doors for senior citizens and empower them to access information. She also said they were happy and anxious to begin using it.
“I think it’s awesome when you see three organizations partner together to provide services to the people in the community, because it’s all about the people,” Valdivia said. “It’s all about the seniors. It’s all about the youth and the families.”
Hollister Recreation supervisor Tina Garza also said providing a computer center has been part of her long-term goal.
“We need something for our kids to come in and be able to do their homework, they don’t have those opportunities,” Garza said. She added that Youth Alliance plans to use the center to help residents complete the 2020 Census online.
State Assemblyman Robert Rivas attended the event and presented the three organizations with a recognition from his office, as well as Senator Ana Caballero’s office.
The EHAT technical center is open to seniors from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and to the general public from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Hours are extended to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Weekend hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m on the first and third Saturday of the month.