Sarah and Jon had known each other as many do in Montclair, through shared projects and activities in the Montclair public schools. In this case, it was the Mt Hebron Middle School (now Buzz Aldrin Middle School) community. Jon (no “h”) knew John (with an “h”) from bowling at the Commonwealth Club in Montclair and the various technology projects they had discussed at the HackNCraftNJ Makerspace.
Each of the founders of course have their own networks around town. Through hers, Sarah Damaskos learned of a young adult who was falling behind in her school work because the only way she could do her homework was by using a shared PC in the public library. She asked on the local community bulletin board, the Montclair Watercooler, if anyone had a spare laptop they could provide for this student. Separately, John Wisniewski had donated a few old IBM Thinkpads to the HackNCraftNJ Makerspace since the owners had upgraded to new machines and no longer needed them. Jon Bonesteel worked with John to install a fresh version of the Ubuntu operating system on the machines, thus giving them a new life in the tech lab. Jon (no “h”) is an administrator on the Watercooler and saw Sarah’s request. He replied to her right away, “I have an extra one I can give to her.”
Jon cleaned up the laptop and grabbed an extra laptop case for it. Sarah scheduled a time when they could meet with the young adult and hand off the laptop. After getting her up and running, Jon proposed to the group that perhaps there was a more general need like the one they had just remedied. The three (Jon, Sarah, and John) agreed, and from that the project was born.
Since that initial delivery, the team (now including Mike Brown, Mark Zbucki, Frances Smith, Cynthia Newlin, and Michele Shea) has given over 815 laptops to students in the Montclair Public School system. We also provide tech support for these and deliver 5 years of free wifi to families in need. Join us as we expand and build this project so no student is without the tools they need to succeed in school!