In June, my colleagues and I from Softchoice’s New York office used one of our allotted volunteer days to support a not-for-profit called Power My Learning. Their organization strikes a chord with us, as they share a very important mission with Softchoice: Help break the cycle of poverty by “bridging the digital divide.”
Power My Learning does this by providing underprivileged students and families with the access to technology, both at home and in school, and in doing so creates more opportunities to learn, develop skills and achieve educational equity. It’s a challenge that is close to our hearts at Softchoice, as the same need inspired our new Softchoice Cares program Power Up.
When we arrived at Power My Learning, we sat down with Nick Haynes, Director of Development, who told us about the organization, the hard work of everyone involved, and what it means to the beneficiaries. Power My Learning does more than provide computers, they help with guidance for kids, fostering growth in teachers and parents, and enabling a polished framework to help children learn and grow. This is an organization that truly does give Power to the People.
Our star-studded volunteer team, captained by organizer Jay Lockwood, consisted of Derek Fields, Scott Baldwin, Louis Guerriero, Michael Cove and me. Combined, we had over 100 years of experience working with computers, yet not one of us had ever cleaned a keyboard!
Our day was spent cleaning hundreds of pieces of dirty computer equipment (mice, keyboards, etc.) with toothpicks, brushes, and cloths, and (the secret weapon) Goo Gone, if it was really dirty! We also spent another part of our day assisting them with the remodeling of their warehouse.
Granted, these might not have been the most difficult of tasks to complete, but it’s a job that needs to be done nevertheless. And, quite honestly, I don’t think it would be possible to quantify the value of the work we did that day, but this is what it meant to their organization:
“Thank you and the Softchoice team so much for volunteering yesterday at our warehouse!” Nick Haynes wrote to me in an email afterwards. “It’s a huge help to have so much equipment cleaned and organized, and makes a real difference in getting us ready to help students, families, and teachers across NYC in the coming school year.”
“You guys cleaned approximately 170 mice and 80 keyboards, in addition to the help with organizing and inventory,” he added. “We would love to have you back to volunteer at a Family Learning Workshop in the fall…In the meantime, thanks again!”
For a newbie to both Softchoice and the New York team, the day took me out of my comfort zone, but it allowed me, and all of us, to learn things about each other that we never knew before.
On July 8th, Softchoice employees across North America will be out in full force for our first ever company-wide volunteer day. Inspired by the experience at Power My learning, the New York team will take on an even bigger cleaning challenge: Central Park! Have you seen the size of that place?