Community Organizations, Red Hook Justice Center

Peacemakers take on computer literacy, by Nathan Weiser

The Peacemakers pose with Juan Torres. (Weiser photo).

On January 20, military-trained computer expert Juan Torres shared his expertise with members of the Justice Center’s young adult peacemaking program. The class, which will recur two more times, was aimed at helping attendees make money in a constructive way.

Wally Bazemore gave Torres the idea of coming to the Justice Center.

“Initially he wanted me to be a Big Brother, and I wasn’t really feeling that,” Torres said. “You could impact one person and that is great, but he gave me the opportunity to impact more than one person.”

Torres will be preparing the class of 11 people to get their A+ certificate. Some of the other computer languages and programs that Torres emphasized were Cisco, Linux, CCNP and CISSP.

Torres hopes that the city will pay for the students to take the certificate test, because the fee is not cheap.

“We are researching a way to see if the city will pay for the actual evaluation and if not then we are going to have to find a way to fund it because it’s quite expensive,” Torres said. “We are going to work in the next two weeks on trying to find a proper funding for it between [the Justice Center] and myself.”

Torres was first introduced to computer programming back in October of 2010 when the military trained him. The option was presented to him to take classes in A+, CCNA and Net+. He decided to take advantage of the free training and accumulate certificates.

“I am very passionate about this,” Torres told the peacemaking group. “Let me tell you guys that I am very glad that you guys are taking this seriously. I am very glad that you guys are enthused. This actually matters to me.”

Torres has helped people close to him learn programming in the past but this was first time doing it in a structured setting.

“This has been my first opportunity to do it in an official capacity,” Torres said. “I saw that doing it off and on for friends or co-workers is great but the impact is limited. Here, it can have an impact that can resonate not just with whoever is in this classroom, but they are going to go home and talk about it, they are going to tell a friend, they are going to tell a family member and that is going to plant some seeds in some people.”

Torres added that he and Bazemore wanted to get a spark going so that the young adults could possibly start a whole new career and better contribute to society.

“It’s something different than what their parents did, it’s something different than what they see in the streets,” Torres said. “That is exactly what he and I talked about and what we were going for.”

Torres hopes that this program helps give them a new passion and thinks completing A+ can lead to other options as well. Torres also brought up the opportunity of being a Project Management Professional (PMP). “Anybody in here can be a PMP,” he said.

“I hope they get a newfound respect and have a love for something different other than hanging out because a lot of these people, they don’t see an outlet,” Torres continued. “They don’t see a way out, they don’t see options. I think A+ will give them options.

“You start with A+ and it can branch off to many other things,” Torres said. “Once you start you don’t have to stop. You can continue education and it can be contagious.”

Torres, who has had seven different careers in his life, is passionate about helping these people. He wants the students to bring a friend or family member to the second session. It is not known yet when the next class will be but Torres will be teaching a total of three classes for two hours each.

“Please bring someone else that you feel needs this or that needs their talents developed,” Torres told the class. “I will talk to them and convince them. I just want to better somebody’s life.”

Everyone in the class was interested in passing the A+ class, and Torres added as an extra incentive: if all 11 participants pass the A+ test, he will take them to Peter Luger’s. This got everyone in the room excited.

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