By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer
Boston – A common belief is that people into computers are too nerdy to be sociable and awkward with others. Adam Frost, 59, is the reality that blows that myth to pieces. With his easy grin, patience with those with learning disabilities, and organizer of a teaching-oriented community program, it’s easy to see he’s no stereotype.
For starters, Frost runs his own business, Computer Care and Learning, in Boston. He was motivated not only by his interest in machines. He came up with the idea to create this business for more important reasons.
“I had worked as a typewriter repairman and love helping people with their most important office tool,” said Frost. “When typewriters gave way to computers, I became a computer repairman.”
In 1989 he founded his company using start-up funding from his job as a computer helper and waiter. Again, Frost doesn’t talk too much about how he was going to grow a business and become successful in any conventional sense. His first client gave him another kind of satisfaction.
“I was very pleased to help this customer address his issues,” said Frost.
Frost admits he saw right off he had a lot to learn. To make his company successful he watched how people worked at other kinds of jobs, such as health care professionals and drew on his own experiences.
“I drew on my experience as a waiter to meet people’s needs under stressful circumstances where I could not control the whole environment,” he said.
Today, his business employs several part-time co-workers and includes lots of partnerships. However, his company does more than fix computers for home users, the homeless, nonprofits and corporations.
“We’re one of the few computer companies in Boston that provide encouragement and support for customers to take care of their own computer systems,” he explained.
He’s still motivated some three decades later to helping people, which also includes helping others to enter the computer business.
Helping others is a guiding force in Frost’s life.
Not surprising he’s inspired by Herbert Kohl, progressive educator, social activist, and author of more than 40 books, including the bestseller, 36 Children. Frost describes Kohl as a wonderful schoolteacher. It’s clear that it’s not only Kohl’s renown as a teacher that inspires Frost, because this particular educator is equally known for his advocacy on behalf of society’s most neglected people. The spirit of both serving others in need and being a good teacher is evident in Frost’s life.
It’s easy to see that teaching is just as important as fixing computers to Frost when one attends the computer clinics he runs for Adbar Ethiopian Women’s Alliance in Cambridge, a support organization for Ethiopian women and other women and families in need in the greater Boston and Cambridge area. On behalf of this nonprofit, Frost co-leads groups of people every Wednesday evening in a church basement in Cambridge fixing computers. These castoff machines are put back in working order and then given to those in need.
The environment is part workshop, part classroom as the volunteers trade tips and give instructions to one another. Every week you work on “your” computer. Frost is smart enough to know that people like ownership of their own projects, so you don’t feel like a cog in a wheel in the process: volunteers fix the computer they work on from beginning to end. This clinic serves the community not only by providing free computers to those who cannot afford them otherwise, but as Frost explained, “This computer clinic also acts as one of Boston’s only field training clinics for computer professionals.”
Last, but not least, Frost co-coordinates the Waterlow Maturity Conference which has been held annually since 2012. This conference honors one of Frost’s high school teachers, Charlotte Waterlow. One of the conference’s themes for 2020 will be, as it always is, how participants are helping the world become a mature place. Frost’s company website explains the conference’s purpose is to “nurture our efforts to help the world grow up and not blow up. These efforts can be part of paid, professional work, or part of one’s personal or volunteer life. Our goal has been to share this work with each other, get encouragement and constructive suggestions, and see how our work fits together.”
(Editor’s note – this conference is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 17-18 2020; visit www.computercareandlearning.com or call Frost at 617-522-1049 for up-to-date information.)