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Dewey Winburne Award: Janet Blake

Sunday, March 14
Janet Blake looked composed standing with the other finalists for the Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. But when her name was called as the winner she couldn't hide her excitement. She threw her hands up, squealed, and ran up to the stage where she promptly kissed her presenters.

Blake was nominated for an afterschool program she created 10 years ago called True Light Day Care, which provides underprivileged children with access to computers. The outreach program has remained near and dear to the East Austin resident.

"This is a wonderful program," Blake said, clutching the award and smiling. "We live in a community that has been forgotten, and programs like these allow us to show people the work we are doing."

The award was presented Sunday during the SXSW Interactive Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center.

When Blake started, there was only enough money to provide the service to 10 children, but with grants and help from different organizations, she hopes to reach 100 children in the next year.

"It was a drug infested area," Blake said. "There were a lot of children who had no place to go to after school."

Before his death in 1999, Dewey Winburne was also working to provide underprivileged children with access to technology. It has been five years since it was created to honor people who use technology to better the lives of the underprivileged. Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, who presented the award with Dorothy Winburne, said she is happy to see that there are others doing the work that Dewey would be if he were still alive.

"The reason that we commit to balancing the needs of the haves and have-nots is because we have Dewey and Dorothy and those nominated for this award," Goodman said.

Blake won over Rich MacKinnon of the Austin Wireless City Project, who is working to provide free wireless Internet access for local businesses. Other nominees included Perce Collins of Computers for Kids and Tim Harrell of Computers for Learning, programs that are dedicated to providing underprivileged students with access to computers.

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