Thanks to donations from Harker and care and attention from Mike Bassoni, Harker’s facility director, two San Jose youth community centers have survived deep budget cuts to continue to serve the local community.
Through his community involvement with the Blackford Neighborhood Action Coalition (NAC), Bassoni, a 31-year Harker employee, learned of the Starbird Youth Center and their dire needs. Because of deep budget cuts last year, youth centers throughout San Jose were slated for closure, including the Starbird Youth Center. Community United, a nonprofit group focused on helping at-risk youth, came forward and offered to operate the Starbird Youth Center, as well as another center on Alma St. next to the downtown San Jose DMV office.
While the City of San Jose agreed to a one-year trial of this collaboration, it removed all electronic support – computers, video games, TVs, office equipment – from the centers, leaving them sadly bereft of the resources integral to community support.
Bassoni, who knew Harker regularly disposed of outdated computers, approached the Harker technology department. “They were great!” said Bassoni. The department donated 30 Apple Mac computers and supporting software that were delivered and installed at the two centers. In addition to the electronic supplies, Harker also donated art supplies, construction and office paper, TVs on rolling carts and art room seating.
“(Bassoni’s) contributions are fantastic and enrich these youths’ lives,” wrote Donna Stewart, executive director of Community United.
Bassoni believes the key is getting many people involved. “The formula of local and broad-based efforts has been the catalyst for a successful reopening of a community resource that appeared to be headed for the scrap pile,” said Bassoni, adding, “50-80 youth find daily refuge because of the efforts of several charitable groups, including those of Harker.”