The Mindtriggerz Project (and why I love being a volunteer)

We had a slow couple of weeks at Mindtriggerz last month as far as new families go; probably due to the cold weather.  But we’re seeing an increase in activity in February and are excited to reach our goal of 100 free computers before the end of the season in May!

Just yesterday we gave our first ever “Mindtriggerz Laptop” and are so excited to help a deserving young college student pursue a degree in nursing. This is Maria – and check out her shiny new Ubuntu computer!

First ever free Mindtriggerz laptop!
First ever free Mindtriggerz laptop!

A friendly reminder to future volunteers and clients: The Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center is warm and toasty!  We’ve been able to use the extra down time to discuss important things related to the trust like transparency and accountability.  We’ve talked about Jesse’s vision of technology being available to everybody and what all the Mindtriggerz project has done to help realize this vision.  We’ve been able to discuss at length  how we can improve what we already do and opportunities in the future to do more.  And of course we’ve been able to joke and laugh with each other 🙂 On a personal note it’s been great hanging out with Jesse’s parents and friends.  I’ve never in my life met such a kind and diverse hard working group of people.

Great season so far! Come by and see us Saturday mornings from 10am to 2pm at the Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center.

P.S. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jhigginbothamtechtrust and follow us on Twitter at @JHTechTrust

<3 Joyce

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From Technology to Trust

When you’ve got a big name like the “Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust, Inc.” you’ve got a lot to live up to.

First there’s that little guy with a big name and a big heart, Jesse himself. Everything we do we do to honor him and to celebrate his life and what he did for us all. And while Jesse was good at a lot of things, he was great with Technology. All kinds of technology, but especially computers. So the very first thing we came up with to honor his spirit was the Mindtriggerz Project, a community based effort to reuse donated to computers which are loaded with open source educational software and placed in the homes of children and families who need but cannot afford them.

Mindtriggerz is my pet project. Ironically (Jesse loves irony!) because, unlike Jesse, I never really loved computers. Sure I used them when I had to. But I had a computer genius at home. So I got Jesse to do everything for me.

Jesse in his "Irony" t-shirt
Jesse in his “Irony” t-shirt

Now I had to learn how they worked, how to load them with software and put them together and run a computer lab to train the kids. Needless to say, I had to have a lot of help. Jon Jones and Jesse’s many other friends schooled me as best they could.  Jesse’s Mom collected, tested and cleaned computer components. And does all the literature and marketing and social media.

And, we have done pretty well so far. 96 families served and we should reach the 100 mark soon!

But we want to do more! We can do more! And not just with Technology. It’s the next word in our name.

Trust

That’s what people place in us. Our donors. Our clients. Our community. And with that trust comes responsibility. Not just to help bridge the digital divide but to help provide for the needs of those same people who have been left behind so many times. Sure, we have always tried to improve our community. The Dunbar Memorial Garden provides a native plant habitat and service hours for Dunbar high school students, as well as providing a place to honor and remember those who left us too soon.

We pick up litter on Versailles Road through the Adopt-A-Highway program. But we are doing more!

It started a couple of years ago with Hats for the Homeless, with Jesse’s Mom and friends knitting and crocheting hats a scarves that were donated to the Hope Center. Next it was a windfall of pumpkins and over 100 home baked pies delivered to local shelters and missions.

This became part of our new initiative called a “Year-Round Plan for Giving” when each month we will promote and encourage efforts to help those who need our help.

This month we set up drop boxes at the University of Kentucky to receive donations of much needed items to support the work of The Nest and MASH, which provide much needed services for people in crisis. If you would like to help and learn more, visit and “like” us on Facebook.

For all of those who have and continue to help us build a better community, one which Jesse can be proud of: Thanks! For those who are new to our cause: please help us make this world a better place for those who so deserve it.

–Jesse’s Dad

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Creating and supporting safe and inclusive environments

At the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust we have committed to a year of giving. Volunteering and working towards change has become a major part in my life, and it mostly started with working with the Dunbar GSA and at the Dunbar Memorial Garden. Jesse, Josh and Hannah all hoped for and worked towards creating safe and inclusive environments.

We have all worked at the garden with their shared vision in mind to create a safe space to remember and relax. This is especially important in high school, when kids are growing into their identities and dealing with peer pressure and bullying. To be able to give kids a space away from parents, and away from worry that they’ll have to deal with bullying, is to give kids a place to be comfortable, grow, love, and learn from others. I’ve seen kids come to the garden, go through high school, and it’s always inspiring to see the experiences they bring, and the unique ways they make change and continue to want to make change after they leave Dunbar.

Being back in Kentucky for graduate school, not only do I have more time to spend at the Memorial Garden, but I have also managed to find a place at two wonderful organizations at the University of Kentucky: OUTsource and the Violence, Intervention and Prevention Center. Both these organizations have agreed to help us with our upcoming donation drive benefiting The Nest Center for Women, Children and Families and Arbor Youth Services.

drop box
Donation Drop-Boxes

OUTsource is a resource center and safe place for LGBTQ* students at the University of Kentucky. OUTsource offers a fun, friendly environment where students don’t have to worry about hate-speech, discrimination, and others kinds of bullying. In addition to being an inclusive space, the OUTsource works to improve the university’s climate and culture by hosting programs and doing presentations across campus. One such program is “Question Box” in the dorms where students can anonymously ask questions dealing with homophobia, gender norms, identity, and the LGBTQ* community, which later get answered by OUTsource volunteers. The OUTsource is an empowering student-run organization that let’s students take control and make change.

Violence, Intervention and Prevention Center works both to end power-based personal violence (PBPV) (sexual assault, partner violence, and stalking) on campus and as a resource for victims and survivors of violence. The VIP center is the home of the nationally known Green Dot, a program that teaches students how to step into the role of an active bystander. As bystanders, students, staff and faculty hopefully will be able to safely intervene in potentially harmful situations as well as foster an anti-violence environment on campus. It is incredible and inspiring to see an organization on campus try and approach the problem of PBPV from a proactive and positive perspective.

When you come by to drop off your donations at either OUTsource or the VIP Center, say hi and learn more about what these organizations do and what you can do to help.

To learn more about the donation drive, what The Nest and Arbor Youth Service need, and where the OUTsource and the VIP center are located, click here!

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It’s January – do we stop giving now?

Continuing our commitment for giving
Continuing our commitment for giving

For many nonprofits, donations received during December can have a huge impact on their continued work. While the Trust has never been “keen” on actively seeking monetary contributions, we truly value and appreciate our donors! Much has been accomplished in 2012 and 2013 promises even more opportunities to help and serve our community.

While January affords a bit of breathing room, rest and relaxation, and evaluating the years accomplishments – for us it’s time to move forward in our Year-Round Plan for Giving. Last month we asked our friends and supporters to help us increase the Trust’s Facebook presence and in exchange for new “likes” we committed to donating desserts to area food shelters’ holiday meals. Our page jumped from 53 to 144 and we provided over 400 cookies, 6 pies and several loaves of zucchini bread to the Men’s and Women’s Hope Centers and Lighthouse Ministries. We are also pleased to say that many of the desserts were made with locally grown ingredients – berries, zucchini and fresh pumpkin!

Our donation to the Lexington Men's Hope Center - delivered on Christmas Day!
Our donation to the Lexington Men’s Hope Center – delivered on Christmas Day!
Crafting for a Cause <3
Crafting for a Cause <3

We’re asking our friends and supporters to continue this effort in January as we launch our 2nd project: providing basic necessities to two  Crisis Shelters. Several “drop boxes” will be placed around the city to collect items such as soap, deodorant, toothpaste, combs, brushes, baby items (diapers, food, formula, gently used clothing), socks, tshirts, and shampoo. We’ll also be soliciting our “stitching friends” to create homemade scarves, hats, mittens and wash cloths through our “Crafting for a Cause <3” events!

December found some of us receiving items we didn’t really need. Perhaps a family member gifted you socks but your sock drawer is already full. Maybe Grandma gave you a hat you don’t like or need. Did Mom give you MORE underwear? Consider donating these to us and we’ll make sure they get to folks who need them. We’ll be posting a “wish list” on our Facebook Page so please stop by and see what you can do to help others. We’ve aligned with Arbor Youth Services’ MASH Drop Inn (serving children 0-17 years old who are runaway, homeless, or otherwise in crisis) and The Nest Center for Women, Children and Families (providing high quality, comprehensive services to women and families in crisis while working to prevent child abuse and neglect).  Please take some time to visit their websites and learn more about their work!

So do we stop giving now that the gifting season is over? Nope. Will you stop giving because the gifting season is over? We sure hope not. Join us. Come stitch with us. Share our page. Start your own initiative. There’s always good work to be done, work that serves those in need and those less fortunate, work that will make you feel good while doing it. Jesse would like that. <3

The primary mission of the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust is to sponsor and support work in keeping with Jesse’s spirit of helping others. Please continue to follow us on Facebook and share with others who are involved in and concerned with community service actions, ideas and altruism

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A year-round plan for giving

At our recent Board of Directors Meeting it was decided that along with the current projects we do in honor of Jesse, we should also expand our reach by doing more things in keeping with his spirit of helping others in his community.

Several members volunteered to organize a “Year-Round Plan For Giving” – it is an idea in progress but will begin this month with a bake-off to provide area homeless shelters with homemade desserts for their holiday meals. We’ll be promoting this event by asking for “likes” on the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust’s Facebook Page . For every 10 likes we receive we will donate a homemade treat to one of several area organizations including (but not limited to) the Hope Center, the Women’s Hope Center and Lighthouse Missions.

Homemade pumpkin pie!

In order to increase awareness of our work, our goal is to surpass our current Facebook presence from the 53 likes we now have on our page to well over 100! We want others to learn about our projects and potentially help us with donations of technology, financial support, volunteerism, and most importantly sharing our mission and purpose with others in the Lexington area as well as the global community of which Jesse was so large a presence.

2009: Some of the 100+ pies before delivery

In 2009, with assistance from friends who supplied locally grown pumpkins, farm-fresh organic eggs and baking skills, we personally donated over 100 homemade pumpkin pies for holiday meals to a variety of Lexington Shelters. This is the inspiration for our latest endeavor: we need your help and support.

We believe that even in seemingly small ways, we can all work together and do something “big.” To help, simply like our page and share it with others: invite your friends, co-workers, organizations, associates and businesses to join us and then ask them to do the same. An act of giving just by clicking – Jesse would love that! His beloved technology and social networking being used to help someone less fortunate – truly “giving” during the giving season.

We’ll start counting at 53 and even if we don’t reach 100, we’ll be baking pies, cookies, cakes and breads for our local shelters – and looking for more ways to do good things in honor of Jesse the whole year-round.

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The gift that keeps on giving – give your computer a second life

Jesse (2005 Xmas Holiday)

As we enter the gifting season, we want to remind our friends and supporters that working computers and peripherals are tax-deductible when donated to the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust, Inc.

CPU’s with a minimum Pentium 4 processor, LCD monitors, speakers, keyboards, mice, power strips and surge protectors may be dropped off any Saturday through May from 10am to 2pm at the Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center located at Valley Park (2700 Cambridge Drive, Lexington, KY 40504). You may also contact us via email or phone – “Contact Us” and we can arrange a pickup.

Your donation helps us help deserving children by giving them a gift that they could not otherwise afford. This also keeps Lexington’s excellent E-Cycling program from disposing of working technology that can in fact have a “second life.” Additionally, since the E-Cycle Center only accepts computers from residents (they do NOT accept items from businesses, including home businesses, or not-for-profit organizations, such as churches or schools) donating your working systems to the Mindtriggerz Project is an excellent option for businesses or organizations whose technology might otherwise end up in a landfill.

You and/or your organization or business can rest assured that no information on your computer’s hard drive will be compromised – the installation of the Ubuntu Operating System (which is performed immediately upon receipt) removes all data and creates a “new” system. In the past we have received computer donations from a wide-variety of businesses and government agencies as well as many individuals. We want you to feel not only good about your donation but also safe in doing so. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Give your old computer a second life and give a child a gift of what we so often take for granted: technology.

Learn more about the Mindtriggerz Project

 

 

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CommUnity

Jesse loved using the word “Unity” and I think he’d be proud of what we have accomplished and continue to do in his honor. I also like to think he’d have a good chuckle at how we have involved the Open Source Community in our work. The Mindtriggerz Project computers run Ubuntu and have Open Source educational software installed on them.

After the dedication of the Valley Park Shelter in Jesse’s name, I found myself compelled to become active again in programs at the park. Jesse spent many hours there playing sports as a youngster. As a teen, he ran the concession stand while I coached and supervised various sports teams. When I was asked to help “re-spark” the Valley Park Activities Board, I gladly accepted. We have already held several meetings and are gearing up to renew programs and especially T-Ball this Spring.

I love to tell the story of little Jesse whose big last name barely fit on the back of his tiny T-Ball uniform.

His Mom and I both have wonderful memories of Jesse’s T-Ball days. There was an older, more experienced and athletically gifted player who for some reason decided to take Jesse under his wing. He encouraged, gave advice and showed such true sportsman like conduct that he was a hero among the Giants, their fans, coaches and parents. He led the league in home runs and took the team to the City Championship. I would like to again see such “community” at Valley Park. I think we will.

In another connection I feel is surely inspired by Jesse, I was fortunate to meet members of Cardinal Valley Elementary School’s PTA. Jesse roamed the hallways of that school as though he owned it and was often found after hours helping in the Tech Lab. The school is undergoing a very expansive renovation but unfortunately, funds for a new playground are not in the budget. The PTA is seeking ways to raise approximately $10,000 and along with the Valley Park Activities Board, the Cardinal Valley Neighborhood Association and our Trust in Jesse’s name, we hope to help them do just that.

The PTA has asked that we help promote a fundraiser to be held on December 1st at the Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center. From 9am to 6pm they will be hosting “Holiday Family Portraits” (Pre-Order Form) with packages ranging from $5 to $26. We invite everyone in our CommUnity to come to the park and help with this event. It’s a great way to support our young people and to inspire us all to help each other. I hope you will feel compelled to join in.

Jesse’s Dad

 

 

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The Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center

Formerly the “Valley Park Shelter”

On Saturday, October 6th in conjunction with the annual opening of the Mindtriggerz Project Training Lab at the Valley Park shelter, the Trust hosted its fall picnic. We were honored to have in attendance members of our City Government who coordinated a dedication ceremony in honor of Jesse. 11th District Council Member Peggy Henson, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Cooperrider and the Trusts Director of Communications (and Jesse’s best friend) Jon Jones introduced the “Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center.” Outdoor signs have been installed and an informational plaque mounted inside the Center.

The concept for the dedication had been in place for several years. Our former District Council Member, Richard Moloney (now Chief Administrative Officer of the Lexington-Urban Fayette County Government) suggested it immediately after learning of Jesse’s accident. We are thankful for the work he did and the work that both Peggy and Chris continued in order to bring this idea to reality.

The picnic was a great success with Mindtriggerz Project families past and present in attendance along with friends and supporters of our continued work. Jesse’s dad was also asked to serve on the Valley Park Activities Board to help rejuvenate the sports activities Jesse was so involved in as a youth.

The dedication was filmed by LFUCG's "City News"

The Mindtriggerz Project Training Lab is open at the Neighborhood Center each Saturday from October through May from 10am to 2pm. Please feel free to drop by and see our work in action. We continue collaborating with the Community Action Council and Cardinal Valley Elementary School to seek out and train low-income families who do not currently have a computer in their home. For more information on the purpose of our project, please visit www.jessehigginbotham.com/mindtriggerz.html. Additionally, financial contributions as well as donations of working computers (Pentium 4 or higher) and components are very much appreciated. We encourage our community to help us help our children cross the “digital divide.”

The primary mission of the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust is to sponsor and support work in keeping with Jesse’s spirit of helping others. Please follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jhigginbothamtechtrust and join the Dunbar Memorial Garden group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/dunbargarden. We encourage you to share our projects and mission with friends, family, coworkers and businesses as we continue work towards Jesse’s goals of equal access to technology and building a better community by helping others.

 

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Breaking the Silence: “Straightlaced” Documentary Event

Hannah Landers and Josh Shipman - Fall 2006

In January 2010, the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust in conjunction with the family of Hannah Landers as well as several other local organizations hosted the Kentucky premiere of the documentary “Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up.” We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the premiere and were amazed at the “packed house” it drew. Money was raised both for a scholarship given in Hannah’s honor and a donation was made to the Trevor Project in honor of Josh Shipman.

On September 22, 2012 the film will again be shown during an event hosted by the organization Breaking the Silence: Empowering LGBT Youth in their Relationships. Again, the Trust will be involved. Among our Board of Directors is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan who was among the first members of Dunbar High Schools Gay-Straight Alliance. She knew Jesse, Josh and Hannah and has spent many hours assisting us with the various projects of the Trust. Natalia Truszczynski, a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, has been actively involved in a variety of LGBTQ groups and domestic violence prevention organizations. She is a tireless advocate for acceptance, for change and for helping others. Natalia will be among several speakers at the upcoming showing of “Straightlaced.”

Additionally, in honor of our beloved Hannah, the Trust will be donating a $50 gift certificate to be used as a door prize at this event. The recipient will receive their personal selection of native plants propagated at the Dunbar Memorial Garden next Spring.

We are very honored to be a part of this event and ask everyone to come out and support it, to continue to work for change in attitudes and policies that are inclusive of ALL and to especially remember to support our young people, they are what matters most.

Save the date: Saturday, September 22, 2012
“Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up”
Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky
10am to noon

Additional information on the event may be found on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/empoweringlexlgbt/events
Breaking the Silence is on Facebook at:
http://www.facebook.com/empoweringlexlgbt

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So many to thank but where to begin? The incredible success of our 3rd Native Plant Sale

We could not have done this without you.

Today we hosted our “3rd annual Native plant sale” at Dunbar and raised just under $800 ($770 to be exact) – our most successful Garden event ever. Between the high-fives, group hugs and UNO games, our volunteer force of a dozen of the best, brightest and hardest working assisted buyers with selection, check-out and carrying boxes of plants. So our first “thank you” goes to them. As Jesse would say: “You r0x0rz”

Set-up began at 9:15am – tables positioned, plants displayed as our first wave of customers arrived EARLY. In our first hour, we sold well over half of the days proceeds. It was intense. And rather incredible.

Entering the pavilion at Dunbar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the initial “rush” our buyers came in smaller groups but continued to keep us all moving – and talking – and talking native plants. The False Blue Indigo sold out fast, as did the Ironweed and Joe-Pye (thank you to the gentleman who knew more about this fabulous plant than I do) and by days’ end even our Rattlesnake Masters were all off to new homes around Lexington.

Native plant lovers in action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We watched folks exchange hugs, gardening tips and business cards – and at the end of the day, managed to send a few plants home with our volunteers as well. And, to top the day off, we had a visit from Dunbar’s Beta Club sponsor teacher – her students who won a $500 grant will be purchasing 5 new picnic tables to install at the Memorial Garden. More students will be able to enjoy the garden at lunch, more students will be able to learn, study and work with us as we continue this project instigated by Jesse and Hannah and Josh’s friends – to celebrate life with a labor of love.

How cool is that?

Thank you Miranda, Sarah, Katelyn and Lindsay. Thank you Jaz, James, Josh and Katie. Thank you Taylor and Satya and the young man whose name I missed in all the activity. Thank you Walker, Mrs. Wiley, Katherine and Lana. Thank you to Jesse’s dad and his best friend Jon.

And a million thanks to those who came out to support our work and gave our native plants new homes. <3

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