The following email was in my inbox tonight when I arrived home. I did two HeliOS Project installations tonight and I am happy to report to you that upon the last one, we have now built and given away 300 computers to disadvantaged kids in the name of the Linux Community so far in 2008. We have already surpassed out total output for 2007 of 228 machines.
What follows is something that has needed to be said for some time...but you know how I get...
Sometimes, I let important stuff slide a bit longer than it should.
Dear Mr. Starks
Although it's only been a few minutes since you left our home, I am so filled with emotion that I need to tell you just how important your visit to us was today.
You met Casey and Ronnie and of course it's obvious to you now that we aren't exactly well off. Since Ronnie began the sixth grade this year, I have been in a constant state of worry as to how I was going to provide the girls a computer for their school work. We tried the rent to own route but that came close to bankrupting us. How you knew to come to us or even how you knew we exist is still questions I have. Most importantly though, I want you to know that the computers you provided my children are gifts far beyond two machines. They represent a freedom that I could not give my children and a learning tool that is more valuable than any price tag they put on it.
Mr. Starks, I don't know what I would have done without your help and while it's far from proper these days to say it, I hope God blesses you in ways you haven't even thought of. May you feel just a small bit of the joy in your heart that your gift has given us. I am in your debt always.
1877 XXXXXXXXXX XXX
Austin Texas XXXXX
No. I could not let that stand...not and sleep well for the next week. This was my response.
Hi There Cassidy.
First off, please...unless I owe you money or you are an attorney, don't call me Mr. Starks. That was my Dad. Ken will do from now on.
Now, let's talk.
You are more than welcome for those two computers. I am both humbled and thankful for your gracious email but there are a few things you need to know Cassidy...I want to give you a peek behind the curtain.
When we started doing this about two years ago, things were a bit less hectic than they are now. As we became known, more and more requests for computers came into our office. It got to the point where we just couldn't financially sustain the pace we were being asked to keep. It was then that I went to the Linux Community and asked for help. Cassidy, precious few responded but the few that did, did so in a meaningful and sustained way.
Their donations are what made those computers available to you. I am simply the mechanic Cassidy. I put the parts together and load the systems on them so they will work without viruses and crashes. That's all I do. It is people just like you and me that make giving your kids those computers possible. People that aren't necessarily wealthy, in fact some of them struggle month to month like many of us. In all though, they manage to send us a few dollars a month to sustain our efforts. Some will forego a night out to eat to make sure we get our monthly donation. That is how much these people care about others like you.
It's them you may want to thank...and by doing this, I am letting them know that you cared enough to do so.
Many of them don't particularly want to be known. Some don't mind us mentioning their names but some do. To be honest, I can't always keep it straight who wants what so I am going to give them a chance to respond to you Cassidy. I accept your thanks and again, you are more than welcome. However it's folks like Gene and Wanda Lake, Jim Jenson, Bob Pianka, Richie Chapman, Carla Schroeder...people you've never heard of that have given you those gifts. There are many more names but I err on the side of caution here...many of them just wish to do what they do in privacy.
I too am grateful for their generosity and by writing this, I am going to give them a chance to talk directly to you, Ronnie and Casey.
And what did you say in your email? "I hope God blesses you in ways you haven't even thought of."
He already has Cassidy.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 6:56 PM