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Considerations for Sustainability

Networking: Opal’s House currently uses a wired network.  We are not introducing a wireless network into the space because there is no need for it at this time nor in the foreseeable future.  A wired network is preferable for this space due to the confidentiality and safety concerns for the residents accessing the internet.  Residents of Opal’s House will be monitored by staff while using the internet in order to ensure that they remain anonymous in their internet use (i.e. residents cannot use Facebook or other social networking sites while on the internet).  The sustainability of the network will primarily entail maintaining working network cables.  We are attempting to ensure that that the cables are easy to maintain by installing a female jack with new and longer cables connecting the computers to the cables embedded in the walls.  This will hopefully protect the cables in the walls from undue stress and allow those cables to remain in functioning order for a longer time.

Furniture and Computers: We are replacing all of the current computers with new-used computers which should remain in great working condition over the next few years (barring any unseen catastrophe).  We are also replacing the long table which currently supports the two resident computers with two new-used desks to improve the resident computer space.  While the computer lab at Opal’s House is not currently being heavily used, we hope our re-design of the space will increase use and traffic in the lab.  This increased usage may lead to increased required maintenance of the computers and furniture.  At the same time, the computers will be primarily used for internet access, and, over the long term, this type of usage should not require excessive updates of software or other computer programs.  As long as the computers have a working internet connection and a simple word processing program, then the equipment will meet the requirements of the users.  Therefore, the computers we are providing should be sustainable for the usual expected lifetime of refurbished Dell computers.  Likewise, we anticipate that the new-used desks will withstand wear and tear for a reasonable time period.

Website: We have updated the Opal’s House website to a WordPress format precisely in order to facilitate sustainability of the site.  We will provide Essie with hands-on training in the use of WordPress as well as a brief written tutorial for her future reference.  This training and tutorial should allow Essie to maintain the Opal’s House website over the long term.  In addition, WordPress is a free service which will not tax the Opal’s House budget one bit!  Overall, the use of WordPress actually accomplishes two goals:  (1) Increasing sustainability of the site due to the low web hosting cost (i.e. free!) and (2) Enabling Essie personal control over the content of the site.

Job Searching/Career Building Activities: We developed a Resource Guide for Opal’s House residents to use as a tool for internet job searching.  We endeavored to provide “timeless” information on the topic of job hunting so that this Resource Guide will be of use to residents over a number of years.  We also intend for this Resource Guide to function as a supportive tool to sustain the overall goal of the social service program offered at Opal’s House.