Free Geek is a bustling organization with over 600 active volunteers! On a daily basis volunteers make Free Geek work. Volunteers evaluate and refurbish incoming hardware, volunteers disassemble obsolete hardware, volunteers ring up sales in the Thrift Store, and volunteers make the coffee that fuels other volunteers. People volunteer at Free Geek for a diversity of reasons and there are plenty of opportunities to plug in. Volunteers at Free Geek are doing more than reducing e-waste and helping to bridge the digital divide, they are also gaining valuable job skills! If you are volunteering in the Build or Adoption programs, teaching a class or working as a volunteer intern, you are adding to your resume.

Star Volunteer Profiles

Jeffrey Sens

* Free Geek start date: August 2010

* Volunteer hours: 286 hours and counting!

* Volunteer areas: Build Instructor and Free Geek Governance

Jeffrey Sens, one this quarter’s star volunteers, is a Build Instructor and involved in Free Geek governance. He enjoys Free Geek because it is super collaborative, welcoming, and also intergenerational. This enthusiastic leader is new to Portland, having only lived here for 11 months; he is originally from New York and Florida and lived in the Midwest for a number of years. He heard about Free Geek from a friend before moving, and having always wanted to know how to build his own computer, he decided to check out the Build Program. After he completed it, Blaine and Meredith encouraged him to consider becoming a Build Instructor, as Jeffrey used to teach in Universities. The position was a perfect fit for his skills.
“Watching people discover their confidence and skills is wonderful,” he says. “I love all the different kinds of learners we have working together to make sense of problems and turn obsolete items into working, shiny gadgets.”
When he isn’t at Free Geek, Jeffrey can be found working on starting a business in Portland and volunteering at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, another intergenerational community service group, where he calls Bingo and runs Karaoke. He also likes food carts, river swimming, hiking at waterfalls, and tree-shaded porches. Also, he laughs and giggles a lot. Thank you Jeffrey sharing all of your talents and for all of the ways you help out at Free Geek!

Richard Gerlits

* Free Geek start date: June 2008

* Volunteer hours: 800 and counting!

* Volunteer area: Front Desk

Richard began volunteering at Free Geek just over a year ago as an intern through SMS Services. He hadn’t heard of Free Geek at the time, but as he and his counselor reviewed the list of participating organizations, his counselor explained Free Geek’s concept and mission and assured Richard that he would probably like interning here.

Well, he was right. One year later, Richard finished his year-long internship but you can still see him at the Volunteer Desk on Saturday mornings as a volunteer. Free Geek has been very lucky to cross paths with Richard and grateful that he has chosen to continue volunteering even after the completion of his internship. His knowledge of the Volunteer Desk, strong work ethic, the ability to work well with people, and organizational skills have been vital to this role.

One of things Richard has liked best about Free Geek is the collective passion everyone has for the organization and all of the wonderful people he has met here. Away from Free Geek, he is an avid reader who enjoys spending his time at the library on his down time. You might also spot him playing billiards at a local pool hall.

Non Profit Apprentice, Liliana Gaitán, sums up our appreciation for Richard with the comment, “Richard is fabulous, he is the best part about the morning at Free Geek.” Thank you Richard!

Leroy Mill

* Free Geek start date: December 2010

* Volunteer hours: 72 hours and counting!

* Volunteer area: Recycling

If you volunteer at Free Geek you might recognize Leroy Mill by his big smile. Leroy has been volunteering at Free Geek since 2010. He first started volunteering because he needed a computer. He earned his first computer long ago, but continues to volunteer with us. When asked, Leroy said he likes to work at Free Geek because, “I like to keep busy and I like to help people, I like making people happy.” He is very good at making people happy, Jessica Moskowitz said of Leroy, “Leroy’s enthusiasm is infectious; he always puts a smile on my face.”

Leroy has lived in Portland since he was born. When he is not volunteering Leroy likes to hang out, listen to music, and mow lawns. He really likes technology. He has an iPod that is almost full and his favorite musician to listen to is Soulja Boy. He also loves to play the Wii. Leroy mostly works in the warehouse and loves coming to Free Geek to meet more friends. “Leroy is an enthusiastic recycler and is very social at the recycling table,” says Recycling Co-Coordinator, Darryl Kan.

So Free Geek would like to give a big thanks to Leroy for all his hard work and for spreading cheer among our volunteers and staff!

Blaine Deatherage-Newsom, You’re Awesome!

One of the best volunteers in the world!Can you believe that 10 years ago today (June 26th) a young man –who just about everyone who has volunteered at Free Geek will recognize– first showed up and said “I’m ready to volunteer at Free Geek!”? Blaine Deatherage-Newsom has been an amazing Build Instructor, supporter and friend to so many who have passed through the halls of Free Geek. Everyone comments on his patience, positive attitude and amazing approach to life. He has donated well over 4,000 hours of his time to Free Geek, helping everyone learn the ins and outs of building well over a thousand computers. In honor of his amazing service, we’re celebrating our first-ever Blaineversary!


Blaine says, “You know, I realized I’ve been here a long time when I saw that I was teaching more than a few new builders how to work on their first computer…who weren’t even born when I started at Free Geek.”


We’d love for you to share a comment on our Facebook Page or send an email to blaineversary (at) freegeek (dot) org with your favorite Blaine stories, thoughts and pictures.


Blaine, you are a rockstar, we love and appreciate you and look forward to our next ten years together!