UAC KEYSPOT Instructor Luis Oquendo

Luis Oquendo knows what it is like to live without access to the Internet. Originally from Brooklyn, Oquendo’s only access to the world outside his neighborhood was through a handheld Palm Trio. Now, after discovering computer training opportunities through Empower IT Works and Project Home, Oquendo is working full-time as a computer instructor for KEYSPOT, a citywide initiative of the Freedom Rings partnership to bring free Internet access, computer classes and one-on-one training to Philadelphians.

Nearly 100 people gathered April 5 to celebrate the opening of the Urban Affairs Coalition KEYSPOT at 1207 Chestnut St. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured a live broadcast by Steve Sanders and Sharmain Matlock-Turner of WURD 900 AM.

There was some talk that people who don’t know computers are often too intimidated to try to learn.

“A lot of people are afraid if they push the wrong button, they’re going to blow something up,” Sanders said. However, Oquendo assured the audience he has addressed even the most basic computing questions, even as elementary as turning on a computer.

When asked what he hoped to achieve through KEYSPOT, Oquendo said, “I want to reach out to everyone. I don’t want anyone to be left out.” When asked if that meant standing outside of the KEYSPOT with a sign, he enthusiastically replied, “I will if I have to.”

Immediately after the broadcast ended, a third of all of the computers were already in use by eager learners. Oquendo was right by their sides, warmly introducing them to the digital world.