by Eleanor Grewal, Director of Volunteer Services
I feel very lucky to work at Byte Back. Every day I meet students who inspire me with their dedication. I’m not sure whether I’m more impressed by the A+ students, whose textbooks are four inches thick; or the PC beginners, many of whom are bravely working with computers for the first time; or the students in between, working their way up through our classes. Byte Back students arrive hours early to practice typing and stay late to perfect their resumes. Remember the first few times you tried to align bullet points or use Excel? Our students are overcoming those challenges and still stopping for a friendly chat before they leave for the day.
My coworkers are great, too. We have different work styles, but each of us cares deeply about our students. There’s always a lot to do, but no one complains about the amount of work.
My favorite people, though, are our volunteers – and not just because it’s my job. They teach at least twice per week, and they spend time lesson planning and e-mailing students throughout the week. Teaching requires infinite amounts of energy, patience and creativity; especially when working with a classroom full of people who don’t know how to use a mouse. Have you ever tried to help your grandmother with a basic task on the computer? Multiply that by 15. And you can’t yell at Byte Back students because they’re not your relatives! My point is that teaching at Byte Back is no ordinary volunteer commitment. It’s unusually demanding in terms of time and energy. Yet all of our classes are taught by volunteers – because volunteering with us is wonderfully rewarding.
If you don’t share my natural love for our volunteers, consider this: We couldn’t do it without them. Thanks to the number of dedicated volunteers we have, we are able to offer classes at more than 12 locations throughout the DC area. So far this year, our volunteers have worked 8,943 hours for us, with a value of over $180,000.