Let your light shine: Computers for Christ

Ann M. Ponath

When Carl Kloehn started working with computers twenty-five years ago, he never dreamed it would lead to a mission opportunity, but, in 2004, when he retired from his work in electrical and electronics maintenance at a large Menasha, Wisconsin, printing company that is exactly where the Lord led him.

Known as “Computer Carl,” Kloehn receives used computers from friends and acquaintances who are upgrading. He cleans and evaluates them and reinstalls an operating system and drivers. He runs the computers for a few hours to ensure their dependability . Then the computers are donated.

To find new homes for these rebuilt computers, “word of mouth is the driving force,” says Kloehn. Nearby Riverview Lutheran School and Fox Valley Lutheran High School have been the recipients of his work. “Teachers in Nebraska know me and asked for help when the need arose. A pastor filling a temporary vacancy in Kentucky informed me that the church office needed a computer.” One of Kloehn’s biggest projects came from a unique connection between Fox Valley Lutheran High School (FVL) and East Fork Lutheran School, Arizona.

In February, 2015, Kloehn and his wife, Jere, were vacationing in Arizona. Baby blankets and quilts from St. Matthew Lutheran Church, the Kloehns’ home congregation, to East Fork Lutheran School were packed for the trip. In addition, Matt Schlawin, FVL technology director, asked Kloehn to prepare and transport some FVL computers to East Fork. A few months later, Schlawin contacted Kloehn again. FVL had an entire computer lab—forty two computers—that were set for replacement. “The thought of them going into electronics recycle was too much!” says Kloehn. He checked with East Fork principal Darrell Doberpuhl, but East Fork had enough computers. Doberpuhl suggested talking to Principal Benjamin Pagel of Peridot-Our Savior Lutheran School. “To my surprise, he informed me that he could use twenty-five.” Kloehn not only refurbished the computers, but hand-delivered them to Peridot last fall.

Principal Pagel is enthusiastic about the generous gift. “We needed to get the students more computer-ready for high school, and in talks with many parents, it was evident that we were not doing enough. The cost and lack of good internet were handicapping us. Now, with a large hurdle gone, we have already been making plans to give our students more computer education. The students were thrilled. They use the computers every morning and were very happy to get the chance to see Carl and his wife in person to tell them ‘Thank You.’”

“Being a young 72 year old, “ Kloehn says, “I would like to find more needs around the country and attempt to fill them. The other thing that would be nice would be to be made aware of schools that are upgrading their computers and getting the old ones to donate where they are needed.”

Kloehn continues, “Throughout my life I have been the kind of person that did not like seeing anything discarded that someone else could use. Repurposing the computers and finding a home for them has been quite satisfying for me. The fact that in this situation it serves our Lord is a big plus. When I observe how appreciative the recipients are it is a heartwarming feeling.”

If you or your organization has a donation of five or more matching computers or a need for a refurbished computer, contact Carl Kloehn at c-kloehn@sbcglobal.net.

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Author: Ann M. Ponath
Volume 103, Number 01
Issue: January 2016

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