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Program Fights Unemployment Byte By Byte

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Patricia Freeman says Byte Back has given her the skills and  confidence she needs to rejoin the work force.
Jessica Gould
Patricia Freeman says Byte Back has given her the skills and confidence she needs to rejoin the work force.

When Patricia Freeman's daughter was a baby, she kept getting sick. Really sick. So Freeman decided to leave her job to take care of her. That was more than 10 years ago. And Freeman says she has no regrets.

"My daughter is alive and well and flourishing," she says.

But getting back into the workforce has been hard. So last fall, Freeman started taking free classes at Byte Back, a D.C. nonprofit that teaches computer skills to low-income residents. She says the classes have been challenging at times.

"If I get it in class then by the time I make it home I'm just completely blank because my brain is smoking and this is new for me," she says.

But her daughter helps her out.

"She likes to fuss at me like I used to fuss at he," she says.

And Friday, Freeman was one of 80 students to graduate from the program. Now she says she's ready to retool her resume and start pounding the pavement.

"Going through this experience, I couldn't say this before, but I can say it now. I believe I can do anything now," she says.

With help from the city, donors and volunteers, "Byte Back" offers computer classes on a sliding scale to D.C. adults in need.

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