Last year Juana Taperia, a Panorama City resident, became a mother for a third time when she took in her niece, Paola, after the child was left fatherless.
Taperia’s brother, Julian, was beaten to death in Arleta with a baseball bat after a party he had been invited to, and the little girl had nowhere to go. So Taperia became her foster mom and later got custody of the nine-year-old.
Taperia’s daughter and niece, like all children within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), are now attending classes online, and having a computer is of the upmost importance.
That’s why she welcomed the free laptop giveaway organized on Saturday, Oct. 3, by Spectrum TV, the nonprofit internet service EveryoneOn, and the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
“This is a blessing,”Taperia said when she received the free laptop and other items to assist in taking the virtual classes.
“This helps me a lot. Now everything’s done online and they can now do their work.”
In all, some 100 local foster youth benefited by the giveaway held at the Zev Yaroslavsky Family Support Center in Van Nuys.
Foster parents drove in, received the laptops, and many thanked the organizations for their good deed.
Pamela Yu, a spokesperson for Spectrum, said the giveaway is the company’s way of helping those who need it most “at a time when people need support.”
Alliance for Children’s Rights CEO Jen Braun said they selected the laptop recipients among clients who were particularly struggling with remote learning.
“A lot of families don’t have technology to connect,” Braun said. “And if they do, sometimes it’s one computer in a family for several children.”
For her part, Lisa Pinto, Kuehl’s child welfare deputy, noted “we need to work together to connect people to distance learning, especially a population truly challenged by the digital divide.”
Helping low-income people receive free or low-cost internet service is the work of EveryoneOn. Norma Fernandez, the organization’s CEO, said the pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide and has put pressure on having reliable Internet speed.
It’s also shown parents they need to know how to navigate online and help their kids.
To help that endeavor, Spectrum presented a $25,000 Digital Education Grant to EveryoneOn. Fernandez said her company will partner with local organizations to refer K-12 parents to internet classes, and would also donate laptops to some who participate in these courses.