NISA’s interactive Northern Computer Recycling Depot (NCRD) has helped the community adapt through technological times.
Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) is a community of belonging, where through the development of occupational skills and self-confidence, participants contribute to their own wellbeing and that of their community.
Tim Querin has been a volunteer with NISA’s Northern Computer Recycling Depot (NCRD) program for many years. As a volunteer with NCRD, Querin helps repair computers and other electronics for the community. He also helps train other members to integrate them into the NCRD, showing them how to perform computer recycling and maintenance.
The NCRD offers repair services and recycled computers for purchase to the community at a discounted, more affordable price. Querin volunteers as needed, which varies depending on the week and what computer work needs to be done.
“Last week I was in every day. We had laptop donations come in and they needed to be set up with programs and updates so that they are usable and can be sold. Right now, we have four nice laptops ready for sale. We sell to our members first, so they have access to an affordable system. All proceeds from the sales go right back into NISA programming.”
NISA offers an array of frequented programming, including Warm Hearts/Warm Bodies (quilting/sewing), Writers’ Circle and the publication of Open Minds Quarterly, as well as Artists’ Loft. Some of these programs generate funds for the organization.
“We used to do meals, before COVID. Right now, they’re having a raffle for one of the quilts made by the group,”Querin said. “Open Mind Quarterly is also a good source of revenue for NISA”. The publication is read by people from around the world.”
Querin has a background in programming, and applies those and new technological skills to his work with the NCRD. He got involved with NISA years ago, after he injured his hand and was looking for work, and they had programs and services to help.
“People with social and mental health needs connect with NISA through some of the other organizations in the city,” Queen said. “They are directed our way to get the skills, training, or interaction they are looking for. Sometimes, there is financial assistance for doing work.
“I was looking for suitable work for someone of my age and with my disability and was connected through March of Dimes for their Work Placement programme. I was hired on a temporary contract to work full-time. When the person I was replacing returned from their leave, my contract ended, but I kept going in. I still volunteer because he gets me out and I feel good about myself.”
Querin was integral to NISA’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping staff adapt to remote work environments to continue to help the community.
“At the start of COVID, I helped 31 staff move from desktops at NISA to VPN working from home. I would spend 12 hours a day answering questions and getting everyone set up,” he said. “I enjoy showing people around and getting the laptops going. I am close to retirement, with only months to go, but I like to get up and get out. I can walk there in 10 minutes. I go in and talk to people and set updates. It keeps me busy.”
During a time when computers have been crucial to many aspects of people’s lives, Querin has been able to help his community with his individual skills. The benefits of volunteering, to Querin, are plenty.
“Volunteering gets me up and out. I could sit at home and do nothing all day, but it makes me feel good about myself to have a routine, get some fresh air, go for a walk and, when I get there, I enjoy helping people with their computer problems. I find computer work to be a hobby. NISA/NCRD is a licensed refurbisher through Microsoft, so we must meet specific standards on the systems we do put out. I’m always learning to be able to do what I do. I like to be able to explain the situation and help walk someone through the steps with their computer.”
Feeling good about helping others and helping yourself is what Querin appreciates most about volunteering. The social aspect of NISA fosters community wellbeing.
“If I weren’t volunteering, I might decide not to shave or do laundry. I could spend my days just sitting at home. I live alone and if I sat at home, I could go months without seeing anyone or getting that social interaction that really helps us all.”
Tim Querin’s Words of Volunteer Wisdom
“If you can give, why not? It’s good for you. It’s good for your sense of wellbeing, and gives you pride in what you’re doing. When I go out and walk people through computer-related issues, I come home and feel good about myself. It has nothing to do with money. It brightens up my day to volunteer. Having somewhere to go and dealing with people motivates me to get out and interact and help.”
Erin Medakovic is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury. Helpers is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.