Hilton Barry, 67, has flat-out flunked retirement, and folks in the north Valley are reaping the rewards.
The Lake View Terrace computer whiz may now be busier than when he ran his own business in which he worked with a number of aerospace clients, including Litton, after working for Lockheed for 21 years.
He meant to retire, travel and putter.
But somehow it just hasn't worked out that way.
First he agreed to teach a computer class at the West Valley Occupational Center in Woodland Hills.
Then he fell in with a group of functional idealists who couldn't wait to put him to work.
"My wife was talking to City Councilman Richard Alarcon's field deputy, Barbara Perkins, when the topic of Quality Work Force Development came up," Barry says.
As Barry describes it, Quality Work Force Development is a concept that will provide businesses in the north Valley with local talent that had been trained, since their youth, to be qualified for skilled work.
"This is the brainchild of Mission College President Jack Fujimoto and Kay Inaba, an educator, and is a far-reaching concept with many parts," Barry says.
One part is training youngsters from their earliest years to be computer literate so that, when they graduate, they can compete for good jobs.
Another is training their parents as well, so that they can help their children and get better jobs themselves.
Other parts of the idea, according to Barry, have to do with hooking up business people with schools so that, when job openings occur, the schools can recommend qualified applicants from the developing local talent pool.
"I called to find out more about this idea and found that there were a couple of things that I could do to help," Barry recalls. "I offered to set up some of the software programs and to trouble-shoot wherever I could."
The first request he got was for him to go to Vaughn Next Century Learning Center--formerly Vaughn Street School--in San Fernando to see if he could get the computers in the school family center to talk to each other. In September he went to the center and completed that mission, only to find himself making an open-ended commitment to return to teach.
According to center administrative aide Maricela Casteneda, "We were so happy to have someone to work with us on the computers that we did everything but chain him to one of the desks."
Now every Monday he goes to the center and works with five people on their computer skills.
The five include Casteneda, as well as Elia Gutierrez and Rosaura Esmail, Vaughn learning center parents, and Jorge Lara and Elsa Rojas, both family advocates at the family center.
The idea is that Barry will work with the five not only to teach them computer skills, but also how to teach computer skills themselves so that they can work with school parents, who will then work with the students.
"I've told this first group that I would stay with them as long as they want me to, teaching them basic word processing and other programs, like how to do spreadsheets," he said.
It's only the beginning, he says.
Once the program is set up at Vaughn learning center, plans are for him to check in at several other north Valley elementary school campuses, including Pacoima and Telfair Avenue, as well as junior high or middle schools, including Maclay Junior High.
"Once you get involved in something as promising as this is, it's hard to say no to anything," he says.
And no one is happier that he's on board at Vaughn than Principal Yvonne Chan.
"I used to try to carve out time from my schedule to teach the computer class myself," she says.
Barry says that as people find out about the Quality Work Force Development program, many are volunteering their skills.
Meanwhile, he is concerned that the word-of-mouth about his program has generated so much enthusiasm among parents that he just doesn't have enough machines, he says.
"So many parents have asked to come in for training, at Vaughn and other schools where we will be starting up, that we are actively soliciting computer donations," he says.
Some have been donated by businesses that are buying newer models, according to Barry, but he still is trying to find good machines on which people can learn.
People Can Be Truly Kind, Says Wife of Shooting Victim
The morning of Monday, Aug. 16, the Palmdale home of Douglas Bundy was in an uproar.
Skylar Bundy, 14, was going to be in a movie starring Mel Gibson, along with other members of the Palmdale High School marching band.
They would only be in the background, but it was a Mel Gibson movie.
Her parents, sister Stephanie, 12, and brother Douger, 10, watched, smiling, as she went flying out the door.
On the way to the movie location, Skylar's school bus passed the site of a commotion on Palmdale Boulevard just west of 35th Street East in Palmdale.
That night, when she returned home, she found out what the commotion was all about.
Her father, a 41-year-old telephone lineman, had been shot in the head by an unknown assailant while he was working in a manhole.