Newsletter – November 2021

Hope this newsletter finds you well. We are thankful for your prayers, for new opportunities, and for efforts showing fruit. Two remarkable stories occurred in these last 2 months:

You may recall we are partnering with Liberia Renewal Ministries (LRM), to run a Basic Skills course for 15 high schoolers in Liberia, Africa. (Half are girls.) Our partner is Boye-Nelson Kiamu, who is CEO of LRM; he is also a PhD student at Fuller Seminary. Logistics and operations with Africa are always an adventure, but with a week’s delay we got 3 laptops to Liberia. Each laptop was shared by 5 students.

Olivia — our remarkable 17 year old Hope IT student — taught the basic computer skills course (creating a document and spreadsheet, using a mouse and keyboard, and basic Internet searches) to these students who have NEVER touched a computer before. Olivia had her own challenges, still recovering from a COVID vaccination of the previous day of the start of our course.

Olivia put in the effort. With 14 hours of preparation work, class time was 2 hours on 3 consecutive Saturdays. The courses started at 8am, so it would not be too late in Liberia, which was a 3pm start time. Olivia grew as a good and caring teacher, learning how to patiently repeat new topics until students were able to repeat and understand. There were several golden moments of 16 students…Olivia and Liberian students…concentrating and working together…all learning.

We are proud of Olivia. It was just last year, Olivia first joined a Hope IT course. She entered the foster care system at that time. One year later, look at what Olivia is doing. Above and below we show pictures of Olivia teaching, all the 15 students with the laptops, and Boye-Nelson receiving the laptops from me and Hope IT. We feel blessed by the recent successes, and hope to do more.

Meanwhile, we were preparing to offer our next WordPress on-line course. We were able to reconnect with the Sycamores, a foster group home for boys. (It’s been 2 years since we have had boys from the Sycamore in a Hope IT course). After I visited the home, we had 4 boys signed up for this October course, and 2 boys (ages 16 and 18) attended the course on 4 Saturdays. Sycamores provided laptops for the boys to work remotely on their new web sites.

Our WordPress course mostly covers web development, but many other topics come up, like Cloud computing, art, and tracking metrics. The boys are interested in more courses, so we are developing a more extensive education plan.

Hope IT plans to have an in-person Robotics course in February. This is a new course, and we are getting assistance from Ed Li and Barnabas Robotics, also in Pasadena. We will give you an update in January.

Please pray for Liberia Renewal Ministries, these 15 students in Liberia, students like Olivia and other Hope IT students in the Pasadena area, and the Hope IT team. We all need to see and experience the mercies of our Lord.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Newsletter – August 2021

Hope this newsletter finds you well.  The Hope IT team wants to give you an update on our situation and upcoming plans.

As you know,  COVID and the Delta variant are still here.  We (try to) progress to normalcy, while taking precaution against the Delta variant.

Such is the case at Hope IT.   To keep students safe,  we decided to hold another on-line course.  For October, we will hold our most successful course, creating web sites with WordPress.

Our other problem is underserved kids and their families are struggling.  We try  to find kids to attend our courses.  It is hard to create courses that are on-line, using the platforms and skills available to the students.  It’s hard for kids to attend on-line courses. Hope IT is starting to recruit  kids for our course.

It is not fun to struggle.  It brings questions.  One wonders if we are on the right path.

In the midst of these struggles, we find some areas of opportunity and partnership.  We are thankful to God for these.

First, we found a partner in Barnabas Robotics.  Ed Li is their co-founder, and has been teaching kids to build various robots for 7 years, from 5 years old to high school.  Hope IT recently visited his educational center in Pasadena.  We were thrilled, and encouraged.  Ed has a heart for teaching.  He runs his course for kids to be engaged, to add creative ideas, and include art and their individual perspectives in their work.

For example, two robots were built by 2 siblings, a 5 and 8 years old.  These robots controlled traffic light switch boards, reacting to toy cars coming near the stop.  The kids added their own traffic signs, which they identified with on their own family travels.  Another robot was able to make fencing moves, made by a highschooler.  The number of robots at the center was quite impressive.  Unfortunately we cannot meet in-person to build robots while Covid is a threat.  But we are beginning to prepare for a robotics course.

Another opportunity to run a course for 15 high schoolers in Liberia, Africa.  Our partner is Boye-Nelson Kiamu, who is CEO of Liberia Renewal Ministries; he is also a PhD student at Fuller Seminary.  We are working on having Hope IT students teaching other students, including preparing resources to train the students who will teach.  The Hope IT vision is to reach underserved kids in the Pasadena area, we want to build up their skills, including teaching and leadership skills.  One of our Hope IT kids — an impressive high school senior — will teach basic skills like creating a document with a word processor, spreadsheet, Internet searches, and creating an email account.

These 15 Liberian students have not touched a computer before.  The idea is to have them share 3 laptops; 5 students to each laptop.  (And if you like to donate a spare laptop, definitely contact us!)  There are many risks:  For one, the Delta variant is also spreading in Liberia.  Having 15 students so close together may be unsafe even with masks.  Additionally, internet and electricity in Liberia are intermittent, even in the capital of Monrovia.

We plan to start this course in Liberia in September, so preparation time is limited.  Can our one Hope IT student lead all 4 Saturdays?  Will conditions in Liberia permit this to be done?  Stay tuned…

Please pray for students in Liberia, and in the Pasadena area as well, as school is starting again.  Pray for us all to see the goodness of the Lord, and again remember that the Lord is good, all the time.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead


Newsletter – March 2021

Hope IT students's web page in   WordpPress
Olivia’s WordPress Home web page

Hope IT is hopeful, navigating through the new realities with the COVID virus.  We want to share why.  Here’s an interesting story about a Hope IT student in the last few months.

Olivia is 16, and a junior at Hoover High school in Glendale.  Rev. Jim Milley from Bridges, a non-profit Christian based organization, referred her to us.

Olivia came to Hope IT at a difficult period with her family.  Rev. Jim thought Hope IT could provide her some technical skills.  The timing was right, as we were starting our October WordPress course, teaching how to create web sites.  Olivia joined, and did very well.  (See a sample of her work at the top of this newsletter.)  Rev. Jim hired her to work on the Bridges WordPress site.  While Bridges uses different WordPress Themes and Plugins shown in the course, Olivia understood the concepts and adapted.  She said the skills she learned in the Hope IT WordPress course enabled her to be effective this job.

This is what Hope IT wants.  We were thrilled with the immediate success of our student.  Then came another idea:  If she is this good, could she teach WordPress to other kids?  More broadly, can Hope IT teach and enable kids to teach other kids?

God provided such an opportunity.  Hope IT also was teaching a WordPress course with Stars in Pasadena (an afternoon mentoring and tutoring program) last Fall, and they wanted another WordPress course in the Winter.  They were open to have Olivia co-teach with me.  And so she did.  For six weeks on Wednesday nights, Olivia and I taught 3 Stars students WordPress; two of these students were girls.  Was it perfect?  No.  Do we have ideas how to make this better in the future?  Definitely.

On top of this, Hope IT paid Olivia to teach.  We do not have a motivation structure in place yet.  Olivia in fact took us by surprise.  She is so able.  So our motivation for her to teach was to pay her $13 per hour for this course, including five hours of preparation and debriefing time.  Worth every penny.  And we partnered with Bridges to make this happen, having them handle the taxes and other details with Olivia’s work permit.  We are sure this will increase Olivia’s confidence going forward.

Olivia wants to get into the medical field when she goes to college.  I also work for a hospital, and we have a ton of data.  She has finished our Data Analysis course in February (see one of her dashboards using Google Data Studio at the bottom of this email), and is also taking college courses.  True, she is exceptional, but we will seek the spark in any kid.  Hope IT is there for kids who have the ability, but just need those key times to gain skills and opportunities, and encouragement.

You may also notice the side story of partnership going on with Hope IT; that is key for us.  Again, Hope IT is focused on underserved kids in the Pasadena area, to give them access to IT/computer skills, as well as to IT professionals.

Please pray for our students and our Hope IT team.  God shows the way.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Hope IT student Data Studio dashboard
Olivia’s dashboard created in Data Studio