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Posted on Nov 2, 2018

Boost for Washington students has Quincy origins

Underprivileged stars of the classroom got an early Christmas present last month, thanks in part to some Quincy folks.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, through its supervisor of the office of Migrant Health, Armando Isais-Garcia, contacted Quincy Community Health counselor Mary Jo Ybarra-Vega while searching for students who might be statewide standouts academically and also in need of a computer.
“They called me and asked if I knew anybody who might want to make that kind of a donation,” said Ybarra-Vega. “They knew that I work in Quincy and that we have a lot of data centers in our area.”
Ybarra-Vega got in touch with several data centers and explained what she was looking for. Gabe Lopez from Oath was one of the people contacted. Lopez is a former student of Vega’s when she was a counselor at Quincy Junior High School, and it was his company that made the donation.
The students, one from Ferndale and another from Kennewick, have worked really hard in mastering the English language, facing a variety of adversity, such as housing issues, dropping out of school, and little or no Internet access, said Ybarra-Vega, who lived in Ferndale when she was a child.
“It was really cool to be able to go back to that high school, to that district and to give this very worthy migrant student a computer,” she said. “It was really cool to go full-circle and make that connection.”
The computers will be essential to the students’ success, Ybarra-Vega said. Both are high schoolers who are college-bound, she added.
To Ybarra-Vega, the day and era when you don’t need a computer is over, adding that this donation is just the beginning.
“This is to be an annual thing that happens,” she said. “Both Gabe and I feel that if there are more computers to be given, that some should be given to North Central (Washington) students. We really want people to understand that while the data centers get a lot of guff, they are also doing good things for the community.”
In addition to the state-of-the-art computer with wireless keyboards and mice, they got an Oath backpack and a customized bottle of water.
“Their parents could never afford that, they were even struggling finding a place to stay,” Ybarra-Vega said.
She added, “Gabe told me that it made his year to do this.”

By Sebastian Moraga,