Newsletter – November 2020

HopeIT RaspberryPi
HopeIT – Cameras built from Raspyberry Pis in February 2019
Hi friend,

Hope you are well in this challenging time, with COVID, in-person schooling on hold, glaring wounds of racial injustice in our nation, and after a Presidential election like no other.  This is challenging for adults.  How are young folks managing these times?  How can we show our youth God and his message of hope, peace, justice and mercy?

As you know, Hope IT is a Christian based effort that focuses on underserved students in Pasadena; these young folks are facing increasing number of challenges.  Hope IT partners with organizations and faith communities which serve these students.

Hope IT strives to continue to offer IT/computer courses (at no cost) in this safe distancing environment.  However, we have not been able to give frequent updates on what we are doing.  We will continue to improve on that.  We do want to tell you stories of our students, our team, and our courses in the next few months.

Gratefully, small breakthroughs have been slowly occurring in the last 9 months.  Here is a summary.

  • We continued to offer courses in June and October, on Saturday mornings. We have had 3 students in each course.
  • Our courses had to be on-line, so we focused on topics that work in that format.  One topic is creating websites, using WordPress.  It is a good teaching environment, as we can quickly see the progress of students; we just need to see their web sites!
  • The Hope IT team has imagination, privilege and know-how to create an environment to allow each student to have their own website domain, to create their own websites.  This is beyond what WordPress offers for free (in WordPress.org).  In these Hope IT environments, students can both create/modify web pages, and use plugins.  Plugins are additional features that really demonstrate the power and flexibility of WordPress.  In our courses, our students used plugins to easily use page builders, track statistics on visitors to their web sites, and even use SEO, Search Engine Optimization.  Our Hope IT web domains allow students to continue to explore and create beyond our course times, and we give them an extra month to do so.
  • This month was a first for us: having a student take 3 courses with us.  This means this student is getting a breath of topics of what IT is about.  He has taken a course in creating games on his Android phone, creating code in Python programming language to have a virtual robot get out of a maze, and create websites with WordPress.  He is 13!  What happens if he keeps going, keeps learning?
  • A new student this month has experienced challenging times.  In God’s grace, she is surrounded by those who care for her.  In partnership with others, after this WordPress course, she will get a paid position to modify a website using WordPress. She is 16!  For us at Hope IT, it is very fulfilling to see a student learn skills and build confidence, and be able to directly use this new ability to get paid.
  • We actually had 2 courses going on at the same time.  We started a new course with Stars.  We have had 3 students, in a 6 week course on Wednesday nights, again learning WordPress.  To see what they can do so quickly is satisfying.  Stars does such a great job in nurturing and mentoring underserved kids in Pasadena.  The Hope IT team looks forward to holding this kind of enrichment course with Stars again.
  • Our next course in February we plan to teach Data Analysis.  It may not sound interesting to kids, but they will benefit.  What can data show us?  How is it relevant?  Well, let’s see what happens to a nation if the trend of COVID infections rise!  We all watch the COVID positive test curves.  There are many other interesting data trends that drive our realities, like election delegates, census data in the US, education vs wage earnings, the stock market, etc.   We cannot touch on all of these, but the Hope IT team thinks if we can introduce these ideas, and have kids create their own charts with raw data, they will gain a key skill for their future.

You may not know, but in each of our courses, we end with a Scripture reflection.  In our Python course to solve mazes, we focused on the 3 parables of being lost in Luke 15.  In our WordPress course, we focus on examples of the Word of God, being a form of remote learning, and showing the power of the Word: both in creation, God’s call to us, and the prophetic voice.  Our aim is just to read the Word itself, as we know that will have its own growth in us all, students and Hope IT team members alike.  We do add short comments on what these Scripture readings mean to us.  We aim for kids to realize, they are not alone, and God was with them in their past, with them right now, and intends a good future for them.The Hope IT team members are volunteers and have our own challenges as well.  We are professionally asked to work longer hours, and much of the time we don’t have energy for much more than work and family.  Each of us has experienced big changes in our work environment in the last 2 months.  Like so many others, we have to deal with layoffs, or the threat of them.  True, we realize we can work remotely, are generally paid well, and are mostly stable in these challenging times.

Please pray for us: our students and the Hope IT team.  In small ways, we see glimpses of God moving and working.  We need to keep going, trusting in God’s good and loving ways.

Peace to you in these times,

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead