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Long before he became vice president of the Verde Valley Cyber Connection — formerly known as the Verde Valley Computer Club — Dave Olson was first exposed to computers while working at a utility company in Nebraska, creating land maps and then inputting equipment locations.


“After retirement, I moved to Cottonwood,” Olson said. “I needed to have something to do. After about three years reading small notices in the Cottonwood Journal Extra about a computer club, I decided to attend a meeting. In Nebraska, I thought computer clubs were technical in nature and way above my head. I found the meeting interesting, and it wasn’t technical.”

After joining the club, Olson offered to fill a recently-vacated publicity position — a position for which he had no experience except a willingness to try. This enterprising spirit would become a hallmark of his time with the VVCC: Olson readily admitted that he embraced each new responsibility without a “clue what it entailed.”

“For a person having no real knowledge of computers, the club has provided a wealth of information,” Olson added. “Sure, not everything has been ingested, but attending meetings gives you access to information that may not be readily available. The fee is well spent if you want to get involved.”

What many people may not realize is that the VVCC has been offering its time and expertise for nearly 30 years. It is a registered nonprofit with deep ties to the community, having an excellent working relationship with Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District and the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce. On various occasions, the club has helped several community organizations and individuals with refurbished computers.

Topics during the weekly workshops and monthly meetings vary widely, going from the general to the specific. PC users, Linux users, digital camera aficionados — all are welcome and their concerns met. Participants may even find themselves acting as private eyes, learning how to suss information out of online databases.

“Our volunteers and presenters serve freely of their time,” Olson said, adding that the fees for clinics are minimal compared to those offered by private companies and that the entire process of assisting club members works in a democratic, non-threatening way. “Suggestions in advance are encouraged to give time for the presenter to prepare .... Questions are encouraged at all events.

“The club has members that have technical savvy. They’re excellent mentors. The help and knowledge can get you through most any problem you may encounter.”

In addition, the VVCC makes sure not to neglect those who have only just begun to unpack their first computer:

“The club has a beginners class for those wanting to learn how to use a computer,” Olson said. “From the ‘On’ button, to getting online, to shutting down properly, we offer classes for one night a week for approximately six weeks. The club provides in-class computers, and we have a reasonable non-refundable fee for materials. Reservations are required due to available computers.”

For those with a mind toward charity, the club currently accepts computers with working Windows Vista and more recent operating systems.

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