Magnus Health employees spent this past Saturday working alongside student and community volunteers at the Kramden Institute Geek-A-Thon® in Durham, NC. Kramden, a nonprofit organization, works to “empower hardworking, economically disadvantaged students…by collecting, refurbishing, and reusing donated computers…” With over 11,000 computers refurbished since 2003, 1,798 so far in 2012, and a goal of 2,500 by year end, Kramden proudly calls themselves geeks. Most Wednesday nights, and frequently on weekends, geeks gather and work on donated computers in an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Geek-A-Thon® event was set up in assembly line style, with stations including everything from cleaning to hardware replacement to software testing…and all with the tunes of the 80s and 90s blaring, and a side of free coffee.
“Any place where you can listen to 80s music and drink coffee has to be fun,” said Tricia LaPaglia, Usability Tester and organizer of all things charitable at Magnus Health. Thanks to step-by-step instructions provided by Kramden, Trish was able to work her magic on four computers at a time, installing operating systems on 12 computers in just one morning. “All I had to do was put a CD in the drive and press Enter. It’s just like a charity 5K without all that sweating and running stuff,” Trish deadpanned.
Other Magnus employees volunteered in the hardware department, putting together about nine computers each. “It was a geeky way to spend a Saturday,” Robert Mercer, Senior Software Engineer at Magnus said with a smile, “A lot of fun, and very well organized.”
If you’re looking to get involved and make an impact with a great organization in a fun, friendly environment (music, t-shirts, food, geeky fun), Kramden is the place. Over 650 people have volunteered so far in 2012, and for those of us less technically inclined, don’t let the prospect of working on computers scare you. With the provided instructions and Super Geeks floating around, anybody is capable of contributing. As Trish concluded, “even my mom could do it,” (and she's allowed to say that because she’s a mom).
Teri, Rob, and Trish proudly display their new geek t-shirts.