Volunteer’s Efforts Evolve as Tek4Kids Expands

In the summer of 2014, I began volunteering with Tek4Kids. I read an article in the Catholic Record about a former classmate of mine at St. Xavier High School, Gary Boice, who was doing some notable work in Haiti. I was retired and had moved home to Louisville, looking for a new purpose during my retirement years. After seeing the article, I was excited about the possibility of volunteering with Tek4Kids.

My first trip to Jeremie, Haiti was in November, 2014. I was not yet sure how I would utilize my skills and talent to help with the needs of the organization. When I arrived, Gary and his team were in the final stages of completing a water filtration system and pump house at an orphanage in the hills overlooking Jeremie. I did whatever was asked of me: running pvc pipe, wiring, carrying materials and handing tools to those who knew what they were doing. The work was more about construction than using my skills in technology, management and personnel development. However, it was so rewarding to see the difference we were making in this developing country. I was hooked and decided I would continue supporting Tek4Kids and helping the people in Haiti.

Over the next three years I made about two trips per year to Jeremie. The work varied but was always rewarding. We built classrooms for the partner schools we supported. This required painting, some light carpentry, wiring classroom workstations, installing laptop computers and hanging overhead projectors. At the end of each day, we would be tired, hot, dirty and the cold showers back at the house where we lived actually felt good. Though the work differed, by the end of each trip the feeling was always the same: I was glad to return home but knew I had to return to Haiti. I was full of gratitude for the blessings I had, yet wondered why I had so many opportunities while the people in Haiti had so many challenges.

Now in 2019, the Tek4Kids organization has grown from building water filtration systems and classrooms to teaching computer skills to Haitian children, supported by nine full-time teachers and maintenance personnel. Tek4Kids has opened a three-year technical school for high school graduates, now occupies a new building with eight classrooms and partners with an Information Technology business to supply jobs for our school graduates. Including the new business, the staff has grown to over 35. As a result, my role has changed.

Now my experience and knowledge of business management and employee development are values I can contribute. Both Tek4Kids and TIC, the new for-profit company which was started to support our work in Jeremie, can benefit from what I have to offer. Although I didn’t mind helping with construction and more labor-intensive work, I now enjoy spending my time working with people.

On this latest trip, I made presentations both to our different employee teams and the students in our technical school. The presentations covered the need for organization values, teamwork, accountability, professionalism, business ethics and other skills needed to be successful in the business world. I also spent time with our management team to train and mentor them on leadership skills, the importance of setting goals, communicating job responsibilities and measuring performance. I am working to develop some resource tools such as an employee handbook, discipline documentation, hiring guidelines and other HR processes that are currently needed. I participate in organization design discussions and planning for future growth.

The work I am doing now has resulted in a new commitment to return to Jeremie every three months so I can be more involved in the development of our team there. I have also started working with another non-profit in Jeremie to help their staff with leadership skills. I am so thankful for the opportunity to assist Tek4Kids in its mission to improve the life of the people in Jeremie through education and technology. It is nothing short of amazing to see the growth and success I have witnessed in the five short years since I became involved in this worthy effort.

— by Bob Glaser

You Might Also Like