Pioneer Resources

IT Infrastructure Strengthens Services for Adults with Special Needs

When George Hilton moved into one of Pioneer Resource's homes, he was in his 40s and had not held a job in more than 20 years. His parents had passed away, and his cousin was unable to continue providing for him. Through the organization's programs, George could lead a safe and fulfilled life by obtaining a job as a groundskeeper, while making many friends.

Established in 1949 as the Pioneer School in Muskegon, Michigan, the organization began as a small association of parents and teachers providing special education and therapy. Today Pioneer Resources serves more than 4,000 people each year at 15 sites across three counties. Helping people with disabilities attain greater independence, the organization now runs four programs: housing, employment training, transportation, and recreation.

Although staff and services had increased, the organization's IT infrastructure had not kept up. Through TechSoup, it requested a donated Cisco 500 series phone system, which had an incredible impact. Now, with network switches and routers, Pioneer Resources can serve all 274 staff from a central site. And with the inclusion of Cisco's donated five-year SMARTnet contract through TechSoup, Pioneer was able to replace the damaged phone system at no cost to the organization.

The staff members now have the benefits of a sound IT infrastructure. For example, a camp director first questioned the need to hook up his remote site to the organization's network, but he now recognizes its value and efficiency. Pioneer's strong IT backbone has helped the organization move from simply doing the same old things, to an expectation that anything is possible.