Stadalsky: Area computer whiz is paying it forward
By Kris Stadalsky firstname.lastname@example.org February 1, 2013 2:14PM
Christopher Baran is surrounded by recycled computers and boxes of parts he is using to rebuild 12 to 15 computers for Christ Academy. | Kris Stadalsky ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 5, 2013 6:11AM
Christopher Baran of Channahon attended a fundraising chili dinner at Christ Academy in Shorewood last October. As a self-taught technology whiz and proprietor of Channahon Computer Repair, helping the small Christian school raise money to build up its computer lab and purchase some science kits seemed like a no-brainer.
But when Baran realized the condition of the school’s computers and that the money they raised wouldn’t come close to meeting their need, he knew he had to step in and help.
Principal Sharon Meiergerd said that although the chili supper fundraiser was successful — they raised about $3,000 — it wouldn’t cover the cost of the dozen or so computers they needed at $400 to $500 each.
“It wasn’t anywhere close to getting the computers and science equipment they needed,” Baran said. “It wasn’t going to happen.”
The six computers Christ Academy had in its lab at the time were all pre-2000 and out of date. They were slow and had multiple problems. Last week, Meiergerd said that the school is now down to just one working computer.
After the chili supper, Baran held a community recycling event with the hopes of getting enough computer and electronic equipment to build some computers for Christ Academy.
The event was held in January, and the community came out in droves. People lined the road in their cars to drop off all sorts of used electronics and computers. Some are old and out of date — good for parts — while others were new with just some minor problems.
One laptop had a broken screen, but the computer was fine. Another had a broken driver. With Baran’s knowledge of computers, he can repair or rebuild the units. He’s been tearing computers apart and rebuilding them since he was a teen, he said.
There was so much equipment brought to the recycling event that his home, garage and home office are filled with computers and parts.
“I probably got about 100 towers and six or eight laptops. I don’t even have a tally on monitors and printers,” Baran said. “I’ll cherry pick the best of it to rebuild so (Christ Academy) can have some late-model equipment and software without investing a lot of money.”
Whatever he is not able to use, now or in the future, he will make sure it gets properly recycled or disposed of, he said.
Baran has been working on the project since last month, with a goal of bringing Christ Academy the 12 to 15 desktop computers it needs and one laptop. He is only charging the school the cost of some parts he had to order.
He is doing this volunteer work in addition to his computer repair business and raising three young children.
Meiergerd can’t say enough wonderful things about Baran and the project he has undertaken.
“He’s been so faithful and so giving, he just sticks with it (the project),” she said. “We are really blessed, the kids are really excited.”
Because the electronic recycling event was so successful, Baran would like to hold more in the future. His intention is to work with other private schools and charity organizations so they can have up-to-date technology.
It’s a great way for the community to get involved by donating electronics they don’t want or need, which will end up serving the needs of others in surrounding communities.
At the same time, the electronics are recycled and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner, Baran said.
“I will continue to pay it forward to the next group who needs equipment,” he said.
Reach Kris Stadalsky at email@example.com.