Jackson native Zach Pendleton remembers when people donated equipment to him when he played football at Jackson State University. It made him happy to know that there were people out there who really cared about him enough to help him out on his journey, even if it was donating a pair of football gloves.
Zach, an IT specialist, is paying it forward by using his connections to help the Greenway School in south Jackson. His employer, City Electric Supply, a family-owned electrical business in Dallas, Texas, has donated five computers to the center.
“It felt great. One of the best things I felt like I’ve done all year. I couldn’t wait to get down to lend my helping hand to these people who are pretty much my family,” Pendleton told the Mississippi Free Press.
The Greenway School, which is licensed to serve six-week-old infants to 13-year-olds, has been open for more than 20 years with a mission to offer quality education to underserved communities, Greenway owner Jo Gregory said.
“One of our pet peeves has been that just because parents can’t afford quality care, it’s not fair that their children can’t get the same opportunities as those families who can afford to pay for it. We’re going to always have the poor with us. Therefore, we must do what we possibly can to make sure they are educated equally,” Gregory said.
Gregory said she met Zach years ago through her son, noting that he was a kind person who had a good upbringing. While he attended Jackson State, he volunteered to set up computers in her center, and she called on him again this year when she started to have problems with those same devices.
“They just had a bunch of old PCs, pretty much outdated PCs that needed to be replaced,” Pendleton said.
“When he took a look at them, he said, ‘Mrs. Gregory, I don’t think we even need to waste our time,’” she said through her laughter. “He was kind of cute with it, but I’m thinking, “oh my God, I’m going to have to buy some new computers.’”
Gregory said she could not afford to purchase new computers and that she’d most likely have to host a fundraiser, but Zach had another solution. He called his boss Angel Andrews to inquire about some computers they had sitting around.
“I just asked, ‘what are we doing with the PCs? I have a place where we can donate them.’ That’s how it got started,” Pendleton said.
Computer literacy is an important facet of the Greenway curriculum, Gregory said, because she knew technology was requiring young people to become more knowledgeable about computers and have the basic skills to operate them. Once kids enter public school, as early as kindergarten, they are being put on computers to take their first assessment test, she said.
“I just believe in having the children to be acclimated into knowing how to use the mouse. We definitely did not want our children to suffer and not be up to date, especially the ones who were going off to kindergarten,” Gregory said.
The company donated five 2015 Dell computers to the center, and Pendleton came back and installed them himself. Gregory said it was like a prayer being answered and the timing was perfect due to the pandemic. Although the school district has issued Chrome Notebooks for virtual learning, they didn’t have enough, forcing some children to have to share, she said.
“When some of the children need to get information and go to ‘Clever’ or ‘Freckles,’ these are some of the sites that they have to do homework, they can use the computers at the center. Just log in their information rather than waiting on their sibling to get off the Chrome Notebook,” Gregory said.
The kids were really excited about the new computers and have been taking great care of them, Gregory said. She said she’s very thankful to City Supply Electric for donating to the center and hopes that more local companies will follow their lead because other centers are in need.
“This is something I would love to do for anybody. Whether it’s in Jackson or here in Texas. If I can lift my helping hand for anybody out there, it really doesn’t matter to me,” Pendleton said.