Eric D. Zimmerman is Founder and Chairman of The Buddy Project, and should know about technology’s ability to unlock some of the everyday barriers faced by the special-needs community: The 29-year-old has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism which hinders social interaction.
From working with Best Buddies International, he grew to recognize that, unlike him, many of the disabled have little to no access to such commonplace household technologies as even their own email account.
Zimmerman, a graduate of Frederick High School, decided to take action. Officially, since 2007, his technological savviness (certified in computer repair and rehabilitation by the Career Technology Center’s IT program), united with his caring, altruistic drive to help others, has been brightening lives. That’s when, out of his Frederick home, he began The Buddy Project. And, ever since, his not-for-profit organization has acted upon its mission of providing free computers (and/or other technologies) to qualifying IDD candidates. It’s also a mission that the Frederick County Commission on Disabilities has duly honored by bestowing Zimmerman with its Distinguished Service Award. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Service Coordination, Inc. the largest provider in maryland of targeted case management for people with developmental disabilities.
Used computers, received through donation, are the starting point for The Buddy Project’s initiative. Every device gets completely refurbished back to new. But since not intended to be used by the whole family, each computer is custom-tailored to meet the specific individual needs of its intended recipient.
Zimmerman also has a special interest in Surgical IT and he spends one day a week at St. Agnes Healthcare in Baltimore where he learns about Surgical Equipment and Instruments as well as help the hospital work more efficiently by the adding of his volunteering.