Volunteers Don’t Always Have The Time, They Just Have The Heart

| Category: Blog

“In a world where children are being introduced to technology from birth, it’s interesting to see where the disconnect lies between their understanding of the software they’re used to interacting with and the hardware that they often take for granted.”

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BP’s own Douglas Vaeth, aside from being Assistant Project Manager, volunteers his time to a subject both he and a group of youths are passionate about.

“Beginning this past October, I started teaching at a children’s coding camp. I ran into a friend of my brother over the summer, who was attending college for computer science. During our conversation, he mentioned his teaching involvement at the children’s camp. He told me that they were interested in teaching hardware-based lessons and looking for someone to volunteer their time to the role. I expressed my interest and told him to contact me. A few months later, I was sitting in on lessons while planning projects and making parts lists.

The students I now teach are mostly middle school age kids who already have a considerable amount of coding experience under their belt. Unlike their previous classes, however, they have to take their code and make it play out in the physical world. The class is based off of the popular Arduino micro-controller board, a device akin to a primitive PLC. The Arduino is capable of taking in various sensor and user inputs and putting out useful outputs. For example, you could take readings from a joystick module and use them to control a motorized gimbal. The idea is to have them learning the basic tenets of robotics and controls.

By having to deal with software and hardware firsthand, I believe the students appreciate the analog and digital inputs, the voltage drops across pots and resistor arrays, that make their game controllers and keyboards work. It’s also a wake-up call when I have kids who have already made their own video games, but are still young enough to lack some of the motor skills necessary to wire up and solder a circuit board. These kids are young, but very smart.

I took up teaching and mentoring at the camp to keep up on some skills and interact with some people I otherwise wouldn’t. I also have always enjoyed sharing skills and knowledge with people and was interested in how it would be to do so in a formalized setting, such as teaching a class. It also keeps me up to date with the bleeding edge of some of the tech world, as well as the maker movement and open source community. There were brand new programming tools that were just released as I entered college that had become the industry standard by the time I graduated. New inventions and technology move fast, and although it may not be directly related to my career or what I do, it’s these new innovations that will eventually change the way everything is done, and I think it’s important to at least be aware of them.”

-Douglas Vaeth, Assistant Project Manager, BP Group.

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We commend Doug on his efforts both on and off the clock. Volunteering helps our community to grow.

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Kenny McLean: Making a Difference!

| Category: Blog

Volunteering does not necessarily mean you have time, it purely means you have heart. Opening your soul and volunteering is not only an admirable trait, but also shows a strong sense of selflessness. Volunteering allows the gift to make an impression on countless lives and certainly make a difference.

We find it heroic when a member of the BP Family devotes their time to volunteer programs, as we appreciate how precious personal time is. Kenny McLean, a BP CSR, is a superior illustration of the word selfless. Kenny is a key leader in the Youth Community Outreach Program in Mt. Vernon, NY. One of Kenny’s main roles in the program is working with male youths, ages 8-16, on their basketball skills. This program was created with the intent of keeping kids involved in positive activities within the community to keep them going in a positive direction instead of falling into negative situations on the street.

In addition to playing basketball, Kenny and this wonderful program hosts and organizes, athletic events, career days, and field trips, just to name a few. Allan Ayers, now a retired detective, is the founder of the organization. Both Allan and this organization hold a very special place in Kenny’s heart. Typically, when one undertakes this type of work it is because the common goal of the work holds a special place in the volunteer’s heart.

To Kenny, he views his time and involvement in this program as something that feels right. His personal time is spent doing the right thing and giving back to kids who remind him of his past. Kenny’s life experiences give him the ability to see the world from the eyes of whom he is hoping to help. Kenny’s positive influence on these children ultimately results in them learning the importance of confidence, hard work, and optimism.

The youth and innocence of children ages 8-16, like those Kenny is devoting his time to, is extremely critical. The work Kenny is participating in will help pave a positive path for these children at such a critical stage in their development process into adulthood.

We proudly honor Kenny and his devotion this month. Understanding his selflessness serves as an inspiration to his work family to open our hearts to opportunities such as those Kenny has become involved in. Kenny, we salute you for molding the youth of our country into people who will have the ability to shed positivity just like you have done.

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