New Computers Come to Hollandale & Arcola
In his more than 50 years as a resident and businessman in this small Delta farming community, Roy Schilling has seen his hometown decline in population, jobs and, in some cases, hope. Schilling is adamant about the only real solution to these challenges: education.
“To turn things around, we must get our young people into an educational system that works for them, so that when they’re 18 or 19, they’re not standing on the street corner looking for something to do,” he said. “Instead, they’re moving forward with their lives and getting opportunities to be successful.”
One small step in that direction came recently when the newly established Deer Creek Promise Community – a major initiative of Delta Health Alliance – donated half a dozen computers to the Hollandale’s Torrey Wood Memorial Library. A similar donation was made in nearby Arcola at the Community Technology Center.
“You have to understand that Hollandale is limited in terms of technology and most kids don’t have access to a computer after school,” said Helen Johnson, Hollandale’s longtime city clerk. “We have been fortunate to work with Delta Health Alliance and the new Deer Creek promise community to take our students to a higher level; to give these kids access to computers after hours. It’s going to mean a lot to them.”
The Deer Creek Promise Community unites healthcare, education, government, community and faith-based organizations to develop a pipeline of academic, family and community resources. Sponsored by Delta Health Alliance, the promise community is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The goal of the new Deer Creek Promise Community, a sister to the Indianola Promise Community, is to ensure that children in the Hollandale and Leland school districts are ready for kindergarten; receive assistance in a timely manner; and graduate from high school and have opportunities for college.
Once off the group, the Deer Creek Promise Community will include 30 intertwining programs aimed at expanding the healthcare and educational opportunities for children and their families in Hollandale, Arcola, Leland and the surrounding unincorporated areas. Those programs assist young people through high school and into college, creating a path for students to launch a career.
“It seems so obvious, but in this day and age, if you don’t even have computers for students, well, it puts them at a distinct disadvantage,” said Johnson. “We’re just so thankful to Delta Health Alliance and Deer Creek. We are all committed to creating a better environment for our students.”
“Currently, few young people even use the community library because of the lack of technology resources,” said Lisa Bush, vice mayor of the city of Leland and a member of the Deer Creek steering committee. “That should change with the addition of the new computers,” she said.
“So now, when they come to the library to use a computer for homework or a term paper, maybe they’ll wander over to a bookshelf and pick up a book to read. Computers are necessary but they can never take the place of just sitting down with a good book. It all goes hand in hand,” said Bush.
Schilling, who also serves on the Deer Creek steering committee, said that improving his hometown means taking advantage of every opportunity that can push education forward.
“Oftentimes it’s not the one big thing that turns things around, but a lot of smaller things, like these new computers,” said Schilling. “This is going to really have a positive influence on our town. It all starts with the education of our children.”