Channel@Work: Microsoft Teen Center Makeover2:00 PM EST Tue. Sep. 11, 2012
Thanks to the generous underwriter support of Microsoft, XChange Events was able to assemble a volunteer team to take on the challenge of making over the Richardson Boys & Girls Club teen room in 4 hours.
The volunteers were a mix of solution providers, technology vendors and UBM Channel staff, who arrived early on Aug. 18, 2012, to give their personal time to help this organization get the teen program on its feet. When the bus arrived at the Club, everyone was eager to get started. There was a lot of work to do in a short time, and people were feeling charged for the task at hand.
Channel@Work is the charitable component of XChange Events. The program is designed to bring the technology community together to connect and give back to the local communities that host our events throughout the year.
The Richardson Boys & Girls Club serves all school-age children in the neighborhood, but it has been having difficulty gaining traction with the teens. They knew that the room itself was a big part of the problem. The space was filled with a few pieces of hand-me-down furniture and a very old television. It lacked the resources to attract the neighboring school's teens, who were boarding a bus to go to another club (or just not going at all).
The Channel@Work team came in to execute on a plan made possible by the underwriter support of Microsoft and the additional donations made by a group of XChange 2012 Event sponsors.
Volunteers worked side by side with teens from the Richardson Boys & Girls Club to move the old couches out of the teen room. Space was opened up for the assembly projects that they had in store. The real work had not even begun yet!
The volunteers and the teens from the Richardson Boys & Girls Club worked together to move the old tables out of the teen room. Creating work space for the assembly projects they had in store was the pre-prep work! Next up: Time to start putting all the pieces together.
It looked a little like an IKEA explosion at first, as everyone broke into groups and tore into boxes. A group found its way into the gym across the hall and settled in to put together a series of chairs. As hard as it might be to believe, they actually read the directions!
While the chairs were underway in the gym, other work groups were in the teen room taking stock of parts for some of the larger pieces of furniture. It was no small task to construct some of the furniture. Groups formed naturally, and everyone pitched in to get the work done quickly and correctly. The volunteers understood that the room was going to get heavy usage, so everything needed to be secure in order to handle the wear and tear.
When the instructions said "assembly required" they weren't kidding! There were lots (and lots) of small pieces and parts. This was not a project for the faint of heart -- or for anyone who couldn't figure out the cryptic directions!
The Richardson Boys & Girls Club teen room had a massive blank wall. To create a focal point and brighten the room, volunteers created a mural that was abstract, colorful and personal. The team started the wall and intentionally left spaces open for other teens to participate -- so they could be part of the creative process and feel more personally invested in the space. The Club was left with paint, brushes and tape to continue the project. We can't wait to see how it turns out!
The Richardson Boys & Girls Club needed comfortable and functional seating, so that the teens would be able to settle in after school to do homework once the academic year kicked in. Volunteers worked on putting together a mini-fleet of these rolling chairs. Preliminary tests received very favorable reviews!
The Richardson Boys & Girls Club teen area was a room in transition. The space buzzed with energy and tools. Groups worked on a variety of projects simultaneously. Volunteers fluidly shifted to where they were needed and where they thought they could add the most value. Everyone was focused on the end game.
It might not look like a bookcase yet, but it did get completed! You can't say that people didn't get into their work! Hey -- sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get the job done.
The teens took the term "hands-on" project literally! They didn't mind getting a little dirty, and they used their own hand prints in the mural design -- which managed to extend out onto the neighboring shelves! These teens from the Richardson Boys & Girls Club gave up their Saturday to work side by side with the Channel@Work volunteers. They had fun, but they also worked hard.
Desks were built to hold the 10 new computers -- giving the Richardson Boys & Girls Club the state-of-the-art machines that will provide the teens with a space to do their homework and also some recreation.
What's a teen room without a foosball table? The pool table was scheduled to arrive the next week, when it would be safe from the paint and general commotion of the makeover day.
Fatboy -- it's not an insult -- it's an awesome bean bag chair! Teen volunteers and program leader, Justin Hensley, couldn't even wait until they were in the main room before they tried out these super fun and incredibly comfortable chairs.
We asked the teens what the Richardson Boys & Girls Club meant to them. They said that it gives them self confidence, and it feels like a family. You can see that in their faces here.
After the Channel@Work blitz, the teen room looked like a very different space. This cozy sitting area provides just a glimpse of the improvements.
Thanks to Microsoft, the teen program received: arts & crafts supplies, board games, summer reading books, musical instruments, BGCA manuals, pool and foosball tables, desks, chairs, couches, Fatboy bean bag chairs, shelves, homework tables, rug, blinds, a safe and a security system.
Technology & More Wish List donors provided desktop computers with a 16 node switch, UPSs, printer, 46-inch TV, Blu-Ray DVD player, Xbox and games, and digital cameras. They also donated gift cards to allow the club to build out whatever they need once school is in session and more teens start to engage in the program.
The end result of the project is that the Richardson Boys & Girls Club now has a space with the materials to support a curriculum that will attract and engage teens. The community now has the after school resource it needs. And, the teens have a place to do homework, participate in games and programs, or just hang out in a positive environment.
As the project wound down, the final touches were put on the Richardson Boys & Girls Club teen space. The last thing to do was to dedicate the room. Microsoft's Jeff Turner was there to do the honors; he posted a plaque on the wall and made the naming official: Channel@Work Microsoft Teen Center. The name acknowledges the program, the support Microsoft gave and the teens themselves!
The satisfaction of a job well done: The groups of Richardson Boys & Girls Club teen members, solution providers, IT vendors, and UBM Channel staff -- all volunteers for the day -- join together for a group cheer.
In just four hours, the teen room at the Richardson Boys & Girls Club received a major overhaul and upgrade. It was well worth the cheering.
The Microsoft team (sole underwriters) and the Richardson Boys & Girls Club teens want to thank everyone who helped with the project -- Channel@Work volunteers, donors and supportive local merchants.
Special thanks to the Technology & More Wish List donors: Dell, Eaton, Fortinet, Intel, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold, McAfee, Microsoft, Reflexion, Ruckus, Samsung and Symantec.
Eric Martorano and his Microsoft team wanted to thank the teen volunteers who generously gave their time and energy to the Richardson Boys & Girls Club teen room makeover project. Microsoft wanted to recognize these young people for selflessly giving their time to make the club space better for others -- to create a space for the community. The group spent an evening at the ball park watching a Rangers baseball game (from a luxury box!).
The Channel@Work Teen Center Makeover project transformed the Richardson Boys and Girls Club teen room into a space that will both attract more teens from the neighborhood and provide them with a variety of opportunities for learning, relaxation and fun.
This project was made possible by the generous underwriter support of Microsoft and the donations of time and goods from vendors, solution providers and staff at the August XChange 2012 event in Dallas, TX.
Check out the video section on CRN to see the volunteer team in action!