About Us : Our Beginnings

How Access Project came to be...

Access Systems (our primary sponsor) started in 1995, before thinking of sponsoring a non-profit project in early 2000. At a gathering of user group leaders in the early 90's, a video was shown that demonstrated how one group had worked on a donated system, for a mother with a child that had multiple sclerosis (MS). Their efforts allowed this woman to "speak and understand" her children for the first time using the PC and some other technology. It was a very moving presentation and many of those in attendance decided to start similar projects with their home user groups. Access Systems started by gathering donated computer equipment, parts and software and testing and doing repair work to create functional systems that were then donated to worthwhile causes. With growth we began to run into problems. We received many more requests for equipment than we had PCs to give. We did not have adequate warehouse space or equipment to handle the activities. Our irregular hours and lack of a phone line or receptionist caused us to miss out on some great opportunities. At a conference of similar projects in 1997, we learned that other successful groups were run as non-profit corporations with a budget for facilities, equipment and staff. It was projected that while the existing program could continue at the current pace, a more formal structure would allow us to reach hundreds more who were in need. Access Systems was formed to provide the necessary structure to the project so that we can contribute more computers and technological help to those who really need it to bridge the digital divide. Until late 1995, the a unnamed group had been contributing to the rent of the Resource Center (where the work is done, systems stored, etc) but as of 1998, Access Systems is on its own. In 2000, we decided to make Access Project ts own entity. The project would still remain fully sponsored by Access Systems, but Access Project would be responsible for the donated equipment. By watching local user groups that have created non-profit sponsorships, we decided it was the best way to allow the project to grow, as theirs have.