This post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who are making a difference in their communities.
Patrice Gans, Founder + Executive Director, Random Hacks of Kindness Junior
What inspired you to start giving?
I was teaching at a small Montessori School in Newtown, CT working with K-8 students on technology and digital literacy. As part of the curriculum, I wanted my students to use their interest in personal digital devices to connect with nonprofits in our community. Unfortunately, my desire to create this opportunity coincided with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As part of the healing process, it became important for my students to have an opportunity to spread kindness.
The resulting event took place in May 2013 and has since turned into a nonprofit called Random Hacks of Kindness Junior. The mission of the organization is to empower students to use technology to positively impact the challenges facing local nonprofits in their communities. We do this by hosting one-day hackathons around the state where 4th to 8th-grade students are paired with computer science mentors and nonprofit representatives to develop prototype smartphone apps for local charities.
My inspiration comes from the students participating in the hackathons and the joy they experience when they connect with the nonprofits and find that they can make a difference.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
Giving to me means finding a personal passion that makes a difference in someone else’s life. I believe the experiences that students have participating in my hackathons might encourage them to pursue a future that combines technology and social good. What better reason is there?
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
My favorite stories or moments focus on the experiences or testimonials of the students that I work with. At a recent hackathon, Kellie Taylor, a high school senior, shared with me her mentoring experience: "I've had one of the best days ever supporting the Random Hacks of Kindness Jr event. It was wonderful, informative, interesting, and empowering! It was truly an honor to be a mentor. I look forward to supporting whenever possible. In short OUTSTANDING!" Knowing that Kellie found her time to be well spent and that she would volunteer again means that I have created an opportunity that resonates with kids and young adults.