TULSA — Glenn DeWeese won't be there Friday when his organization donates more than 80 refurbished computers to at-risk children. He won't be there to watch their faces light up as they rip the Christmas wrapping from their very own computer, and he won't be there to see parents who could not afford such a gift, mouth an inaudible "thank you” as they wipe beneath their eyes. He won't be there, but his presence will be felt for years. DeWeese, a 58-year-old retired Tulsa police officer, died suddenly and unexpectedly Saturday as the nonprofit organization he founded, PC Power, made final preparations to deliver Christmas computers during the fifth annual North Pole Computer Project. Family members, Tulsa police officials and PC Power supporters met Monday to try to figure out the future of the project started by DeWeese before he left the force.Comments
From trash to treasureThe idea for PC Power was born in October 2003, when DeWeese was helping his grandson with some homework. The homework assignment required an Internet search. But long after the simple search was finished, and the homework was done, the assignment continued to bother DeWeese. He had a computer and knew enough about computers to help his grandson. But what about those families who couldn't afford a family computer? How did those children do their homework assignment? It didn't take him long to realize that things don't get any better by wondering about them. So he decided to go to work, with a goal of rebuilding 10 discarded computers before Christmas and delivering them to families in need. That's where his supervisor, Capt. Karen Ford, came in. "This was something Glenn was doing in preparation for his retirement,” Ford said. "He worked for me at that time, and I thought it was a great idea, and I knew I would try to give him all the support I could.”
Christmases past and presentWith the help of dozens of friends, family and volunteers who believed in his dream, PC Power was able to complete 38 computers that first Christmas. In just three months, they nearly quadrupled DeWeese's original goal. The Tulsa Police Department agreed to let on-duty officers in marked patrol cars deliver the computers. Organizers estimated that first delivery would be used by 120 children and would have cost about $12,000 to buy the same equipment and software. Today, DeWeese's PC Power program has evolved into a year-round project that will provide computers for more than 750 families this year. Ford said she's never delivered computers because she is usually behind the scenes, making sure everything runs smoothly. But she's heard the stories. "They say the smiles on the faces of the kids can light up the whole room,” she said. "And the parents are also really grateful because they know what a big impact this can have on the lives of their children.” Many people will recall a day when having a personal computer at home was considered a luxury, but Ford said that is no longer the case. "Nowadays, it's pretty much a necessity,” she said. "But it's a necessity that a lot of people can't afford.”
Christmas futureIt was always DeWeese's desire for PC Power to continue after he was gone, Ford said. "This Friday, close to 85 families will receive a computer,” she said. "Our first mission is to do that for Glenn.” After that, they can turn their attention toward mourning the loss of their friend and loved one who will be laid to rest Saturday. As for the future of PC Power, Ford said several people have been involved in the project since the beginning, and they intend to keep it going. "That's what Glenn would have wanted,” she said. "He had some health problems and knew he would not always be there, but this was unexpected.” She describes her friend as someone who always put service above self. "He was just a great person,” she said. "He always thought of others — I mean, look at this program. And on top of all of that, he was also an organ donor, so when this happened ... he was here for one reason — to help people.
Glenn DeWeese The 58-year-old retired Tulsa police officer started PC Power, which refurbishes unwanted computers and gives them to children in need. Although DeWeese died over the weekend, the organization will go on.
How to helpFor more information about the North Pole Computer Project and PC Power, go to TulsaPCPower.org.