Giving students a safe place to learn

One Maryland nonprofit is building portable desks for Howard County students to use during online learning.
3:56 | 08/13/20

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Transcript for Giving students a safe place to learn
When the pandemic forced most schools to go virtual back in March, the most pressing concern was getting students laptops, tablets and the internet service they needed to continue learning. If you ask our next guest one necessity was overlooked, a dedicated space to learn. That's why dream builders a nonprofit in Maryland temporarily pivoting from renovating homes to building desks for students. Here to tell us more is the founder of dream builders, John Mcbeth. John, thank you so much for joining us. What gave you the idea to build dream spaces? When we realized we couldn't take our mission trips like we had done, we called a virtual town hall meeting and called the leadership of dream builders and members of the community to brain storm how we could help. In the call there were two teachers from our county who said one of the real issues is these students studying from home participating virtually don't have a place to study. They have to study on their kitchen table or sometimes in their bedrooms. That's not the proper place to study. They started to talk about the concept of a folding desk. Another member of the leadership team, Jeff Cassman who owns a local commercial firm, said why don't you give me a couple weeks and I'll design a folding desk and build a prototype. We did. We gave him two weeks. He spent many hours on it. During that time the teachers went back to their schools and spoke to the administration there confirming the need and received really very high excitement from the principals. When we got back together, we said let's do this. I love that you just got it done. How many desks have you made so far? What makes your desks unique? We set a goal to build 120 desks. At the end of the second day we had 118 desks ready to go. What makes them unique is when you fold them up, they're about five inches wide, 37 inches long. You can slide them behind a sofa or store them underneath a bed. Very sturdy construction. That's great. We have seen the pictures of you making these desks. Looks like a lot of helping hands. Tell us about the volunteers making this possible. So it is our volunteer community. We have a method where we put out the word that we're going to have a workday. So we had about 50 people, adults and teens on the first day and about 40 the second day. We gathered outside, socially distanced. There were 14 different construction steps and off we went. That's very cool. John, I want to know what's the message you're hoping to spread by doing this type of work for others? Yeah, so you know we all agree these are very challenging times. There's an awful lot of stress associated with these times. Yet there's so many good people within our country. They're looking for ways that they can help and ways that they can give back. This has gone way beyond what we thought. Our 118 desks are already spoken for. We have schools across the state asking for desks. Even other states have begun to contact us about replicating what we do. As dream builders, we're going to freely share everything we've done and what you will find is that if you find a way to give back in a meaningful way it will be extremely rewarding. Living up to the name of your foundation. Dream builders. You're certainly doing that. John, thank you for being with us and inspiring us today. Thank you.

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