Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This post is all about people. In March, we celebrated the donation of another hardware grant to a local elementary school, and we partnered with First United Church in the DTES, donating computers for use in their resource centre. As always, we had a wonderful time getting involved in the community, and it got us thinking – we’ve profiled quite a few people and organizations, but never ourselves, and we thought we’d quite like to say hello.
So, this month, we bring you our first ever profile of a FGV staff member. Mike, who heads up Free Geek’s laptop department, took his turn in the hot seat and answered the same set of questions we pose to our Volunteer of the Month. Read on for more about Mike.

How long have you been at Free Geek? What’s your department?

I started as a volunteer in April of 2011, going through our Build Program and ending up in Laptop Build by June. In March of 2012 I was hired as the Laptop Build Coordinator, temporary part-time. By September I was on permanent staff, part-time, then by December 2012 full time.

What prompted you to start volunteering?

Doctor's orders. No, really. Stop obsessing about finding work in your old career, she said. Volunteer somewhere and you'll get your confidence back. She was dead right about that.

I had an idea of getting into some kind of tech support, since I knew a lot about software. About hardware, though, I knew virtually nothing. Free Geek turned out to be the best place to learn that.

What has been the best part of your experience at Free Geek?

At the beginning, it was the staff and the community of volunteers. Everybody helps you, nobody judges. It's not where you came from, but what you can do and what kind of person you are that count. Do you want to stretch your wings, try something new? Go for it, we'll help. Do you have a tweak, a trick, an improvement you want to try? Do it: if it works we'll keep it, if it doesn't, hey, no worries.

Later on, as staff, the best part was the rare privilege of teaching in the best classroom situation you can imagine (one on one, with all the resources right at hand), and the still more rare privilege of building something unique and worthy.

Where do you hope to go with the skills and knowledge you have gained?

I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying right here. This is one of the very few jobs I've had where I look forward to going into work every day. I get to work with a lot of really first-class people, genuine citizens in the classic sense of the word, and that's a jewel beyond price.

Please tell us anything you would like to share about your hobbies and interests.

Books, movies, history, politics, science, science fiction, British detective dramas, Stan Rogers, how the human brain works, why people believe in things that aren't true, and at the bottom of it all, origins. Of people, names, memes, myths, customs, nations, technologies, matter, energy, mind, the cosmos. Endlessly fascinating.

Any final comments?

Free Geek is a really unusual organization, an experiment really. An enterprise that operates on the premise that cooperation achieves more than competition, equality more than hierarchy, altruism more than greed. Sometimes experiments fail, but not this one, I think. I'm proud to be a part of it.

We couldn't agree more. Free Geek is very proud to have someone with Mike’s experience and dedication on staff.  Recently, Mike also acted as the FGV ambassador during the filming of a documentary at the Free Geek warehouse. Stay tuned for more on that in our next post!

Of course, we can’t go without mentioning our Volunteer of the Month. Meet Roxana!

How long have you volunteered with Free Geek? What's your department?

Since October, 2013. I spent most of my time in hardware and RAM testing. I’ve recently moved to laptop build.

What prompted you to start volunteering?

Because of my environmental convictions. I want to help the environment. Free Geek lets me do this in a very tangible way.

 What has been the best part of your experience at Free Geek?

The staff are very supportive and professional. They reflect better ethics than the mainstream.

Where do you hope to go with the skills and knowledge you have gained?

I would like to help others. I would like to in the future help my friends fix their computers, and have more knowledge in this direction.

Please tell us anything you'd like to share about your hobbies and interests.

I like to spend time in nature (hiking). I like to watch documentaries, read, and sew by hand.

Any final comments?

I just want to say thank you for this opportunity.

Thank you for your commitment to Free Geek, Roxana. We’re happy to have you on the team J

That wraps it up for this month, but as always, stay tuned and connect with us on social media to keep your finger on the Free Geek pulse.



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