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18-year-old Joe Fleming refurbishes laptops for students in need

Joe Fleming is an 18-year-old with a sharp mind, an adventurous spirit, and a big heart. He’s a proud Eagle Scout with a passion for the outdoors, IT (information technology), and volunteering. Joe graduated from high school in June and is currently attending community college with plans to transfer to a four-year school to study Geospatial Science.

Recently, Joe visited Common Hope in Guatemala and spent time as a short-term volunteer working with Esteban and Fernando in maintenance. That is when he learned more about our work and the focus on education as a means out of poverty.

A trip to the mercado spawns an idea

It took about 40 hours for Joe and Bob to refurbish all of the laptops

While at a supermarket in Antigua, Joe noticed that the price of computers in Guatemala was significantly higher than in the U.S. The families Common Hope works with earn an average of $150-200 per month, so owning a computer is not a possibility. Yet many times, students need access to computers and the Internet to complete their assignments. Knowing that, Joe got in touch with Pablo, Common Hope’s IT Director, who confirmed a need for laptop computers for students.

After returning home, Joe got right to work. He reached out to Kyle Jarrett, a fellow Eagle Scout who did a project that involved refurbishing computers for a local elementary school in Virginia. The Jarrett’s referred Joe and his father Bob to the VA STAR Program (Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment), which provided all 16 laptops to Joe and Bob free of charge.

That’s when the real work began. All in all, it took Joe and Bob about 40 hours to fully refurbish the laptops and install their operating systems. On top of that, they drove all the way from their home in Virginia to our St. Paul, MN office to drop off the computers – a trip that took them a total of 35 hours!

When asked about the project Joe humbly says,

“I saw a way to do something, so I took a shot.”

And Joe, we are so glad you did! Common Hope would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Joe and Bob Fleming for not only sharing their talents and resources with us, but also for dedicating so much of their time to helping others. Limited access to technology is a challenge that many of our students face on a daily basis, and this donation of 16 laptops will make it easier for them to do homework, conduct research, and complete assignments. ¡Con mucho cariño, GRACIAS Joe y Bob por su ayuda!

Thank you also to the VA STAR program for donating the laptops to Joe and Bob, and to Kyle and Scott Jarrett for all the help and guidance provided along the way.

Please stay tuned for a follow-up story once the laptops complete their journey to Guatemala!


STORY UPDATE: January 2017

Francisco unpacking the laptops in Guatemala

The laptops made it safely to Guatemala via our yearly shipping container! IT staff member, Francisco, received the laptops and had high praise for the quality and immaculate condition of the refurbished laptops. In January he began to format them, installing software and hooking them up to the network. Once again we would like to thank Joe for all of his ingenuity and hard work making this project happen!

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