Cyber Cafe a chance to give back in York City

Amanda J Cain
York Dispatch
Tammy Harvey-Bethea, helps Anthony Torres, 12, with a computer program, at the Second Chance Development Foundation Cyber Cafe, Tuesday Feb. 28, 2017, in York City. Amanda J. Cain photo

When you think of a cyber cafe, you think of growth, hangouts, a learning center and a place where people can be open with each other. 

That's just what York City's program analyst thinks. And that's why she runs the Second Chance Development Foundation Cyber Cafe.

Her name is Tammy Harvey-Bethea. She was born in Philadelphia but also has moved from New Jersey to Indianapolis and Memphis, just to name a few. She has lived in big cities but thinks York has the "it" factor.

"Just the historic look of this place," she said.  "People don't know what they have here. They talk about it, but they just don't know.'" 

She and her husband, Kenneth Bethea, have a church called Second Chance Development Outreach ministry, which is located at 37 N. George St and opened in 2012, five years after Harvey-Bethea arrived in York.

Harvey-Bethea says one of her passions has always been children and that the church's goal is to encompass the community. 

The program: In 2015, she started the Cyber Cafe, and its mission is to encourage children to have a love of technology and its role in our lives, to empower all students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a digital world, to inspire creativity and to promote lifelong learning in a fun, safe and caring environment. 

She initially set out to offer it to adults and kids, so the adults could help out and interact with youths. Unfortunately, she found that it was inconsistent for the adults to show up on a regular basis, with their varied work schedules, and she had to restructure the program, which now serves kids ages 5-13. 

In the fall and winter, the program is offered 6-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at 1059 Kelly Drive, a small community center that is owned by the city. The program is free throughout the year, and the kids are welcome whenever they can make it out. Summer hours are 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Second Chance Development Foundation Cyber Cafe owner Tammy Harvey-Bethea, poses for a photo at a community space at 1059 Kelly Drive, Tuesday Feb. 28, 2017, in York City. Amanda J. Cain photo

Harvey-Bethea says she has a waiting list and usually has a consistent 16 to 17 kids from the city on those nights. Some of the kids come from poverty and/or broken homes, and some might have learning disabilities, but none of those things stop Harvey-Bethea from working with them. They also don't stop her from driving to pick up or drop off some of the kids.

She is very passionate about the work, even after she is done with her city job. 

Most importantly, she says, the program is more about self-esteem than anything else.

Harvey-Bethea wants to instill the old ways. She believes technology has taken lot of things away for families, and so it is her job to teach kids the basics of life and a sense of home economics (definition: cooking and other aspects of household management), the stuff that schools don't have anymore.

"We feed them first," she said, then they get to the focus of the program.

Harvey-Bethea teaches the kids how to disassemble and reassemble computers because she believes they need to know how things work in a computer to be able to operate a computer. The program also offers crafts, a studio and life-skills projects. Even the ones who are shy get to build their self-esteem through an activity.

And if you think the kids go there and do whatever they want, you're wrong.

When one is acting out, Harvey-Bethea sits them all down and explains to them all the purpose of the center. She wants them to come in and enjoy themselves while also participating.

From left, students Anthony Torres, 12, Nazareth Dellinger, 11, Da'Juan Johnson, 11, and Jose Dejesus, 10, work on their computer skill game, during the Second Chance Development Foundation Cyber Cafe program, Tuesday Feb. 28, 2017, in York City. Amanda J. Cain photo

She's even invested in all the equipment.

"Sure, the tablets and everything else is good, and what they're teaching the kids, but when we have to go to work, what we got to use?" she said, concluding that not a lot of places have the same equipment or can afford the latest and greatest computer or tablet. 

"They have to still learn what is real," she says. "What I work with at work is what I give." 

She also says she needs help.

"We need volunteers, more adults. They really need to think about what's important. We got to think about our future and be consistent." 

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Harvey-Bethea at  717-495-0225.