Aiming to meet the technological needs of their South L.A. neighborhood, Pastor Gary Williams and the members of St. Mark United Methodist Church opened a computer lab for the community.
Using a large room on the St. Mark campus, the lab will be available to youth, adults and seniors three days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can check email and perform other tasks and also instructors will be on hand to teach computer illiterate people.
“The morning hours will be opened to senior citizens, the afternoon for adults, and elementary and middle school children will use the lab from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.,” explained Williams. “Also, we’ve partnered with 74th Street School to allow kids to use our computers and they can also get extra help with homework.”
Previously, St. Mark offered a computer lab only during the summer months, but they recently were awarded a grant from the UMC Board of Global Missions to expand the program. The funds allowed the church to purchased desktop units to complement their existing inventory of laptop computers.
“Tanya Cunningham, a member of our church who recently retired, has taken this project on and she’s recruited other volunteers to assist. She’ll be here to manage the program on a regular basis,” he added. His wife, Myrna Jefferson Williams, will donate her skills to the computer lab as well. A retired educator, she taught many years in LAUSD schools.
Another outreach program St. Mark hopes to launch is a community music center. The church has instruments, but lacks a music teacher. The pastor said that he hopes someone will volunteer or share their talents for a small stipend.
“Most LAUSD schools don’t have music programs. I read that out of 700 schools, only 35 have music programs, so that what we want to fill that void for the kids in this community,” explained Williams.
“We also have a basketball court that is open to the community and we have Coach Brian Jones here on Tuesdays and Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., to teach children in this community,” he said.
St. Mark United Methodist Church is located at 8305 S. Gramercy Place in Los Angeles.