In all the years of creating events for Geek Girl we always knew we had a lot of fans out there. Little did we know how truly awesome and from how far away they really are.
I’ve been meaning to write this post forever. And I am kind of glad I waited until now because today was one of those days that I just could not get out of my own way and could not get focused or even excited about sitting down to work on new, exciting and important Geek Girl updates and changes. Maybe because it’s Monday. Ick. Maybe it’s because I am just ComicCon-ned out from this weekend. Or maybe the abnormal San Diego humidity just wiped me out. Or maybe dreaming of blood-sucking vampire worms crawling inside my face from watching Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain last night made me restless. Thanks Guillermo. Or maybe the fact I cannot find my dark French roast coffee beans and I had no coffee. Whatever the case, I definitely needed a kick in the ass.
Then I saw something that just made me light up and smile. If you can manage to take a few minutes and read this, I guarantee you that it will make you smile as well.
This past March at our Geek Girl Boston South TechCon, I was notified by our staff that a family of 3 were interested in coming to TechCon who were from out of town. At the time, we were so crazy-busy, “out of town” mostly meant they were driving down from New Hampshire or, God forbid, might be coming from Rhode Island where they have to pack their passport, a change of clothes and a picnic to drive more than an hour. I’m originally from Rhode Island so I can say this. Because it’s true.
If you have ever been to a Geek Girl Tech Conference in the last 6 years since we have been doing them around the country, then you know how fast the day goes by and if you don’t focus or you look down for a minute, you might miss something. I might have missed an incredible opportunity to meet the people who we essentially are creating the events for: women and girls who want to learn more about tech to get ahead in life, find their dream job, start their dream company and become Geek Girls themselves by kicking aside the notion that there are not a lot of women in tech.
This was the first time at a TechCon that I tried to spend as much time as possible on the floor and talk and meet with as many people as possible. It’s always proven difficult being pulled in a million different directions, but with a competent staff and awesome volunteers, it is getting better every year. And I am so glad I learned to stop finding what is going wrong at an event and quickly fix it, but rather take it all in that which is going RIGHT. It’s quite the feeling to see the accomplishments and see how far we have all come in the 7 years. And for that I am forever grateful to the friends, instructors, volunteers, supporters, attendees, fans, evangelists, sponsors, advertisers, and all of you lovely people with Geek Girl stickers on your cars and laptops who have never been able to get to an event yet but who support us from afar.
As I was walking in the expo area, one of my cohorts introduced me to the VendeVen family.
Our extended Geek Girl family from Louisiana!: Kristen VandeVen, Anna Camille VandeVen, and grandma Brenda Funderburg.
Mom, daughter and grandma. All hailing from the great State of Louisiana. Newellton, Louisiana, to be exact. Near West Monroe where maybe a few of you have heard of some bearded guys who put together duck calls.
So there I met the lovely mom, Kristen, who works at Cross Keys Bank in town, and her sweet gem of a daughter, Anna Camille. And grandma, a very young at heart grandma, Brenda Funderburg, who made the trip as well.
They came up to TechCon after finding us online, booking their flights to Boston, getting a rental car to drive to Plymouth, MA. and getting their tickets to TechCon for March 22nd. Mind you, we are not talking about a family raised with a silver spoon. These are your average middle-class, hard-working, salt of the earth people from a small town where community is everything. They believe in education, improving themselves and making things better for their kids. And having that dream job.
All because they believed that learning and educating themselves on technology was not defined by age, distance or not knowing one soul when they arrived. Kristen was determined to learn as much as she can to bring her knowledge back home and use it at the bank and educate others. I had the opportunity to speak to them all that day, that night at the reception, and our team invited them to come join us for an instructor breakfast the next morning. After all, they were family now. Geek Girls united!
Since that time, the family and I have kept in touch by text and email, they are constantly online checking out what we are doing on Social Media and we send gifts back to each other. They are constantly pleading with us to start a Geek Girl group in northeastern Louisiana and do a TechCon because their community needs it, they tell us.
Anna Camille drew me this Geek Girl! I love it!
I never want to let this family go. And I cannot wait to see them again.
Because they brought back to me the reason I started Geek Girl back in 2006. To democratize and make technology accessible to everyone and take the difficulty out of learning and make it fun, from 8-88, women and men, and empower, educate and inspire those who want to come along. THESE were my people. THIS was my mission.
Whenever I get disheartened when a woman who needs help with her computer just gives up and has her kids do it, or calls herself stupid or too old to learn, I used to feel sorry for them and poo-poo them, spending hours convincing them why they need get confident in their abilities and do this themselves. Not any more. We are all about tough love here and if you want to get things down and get ahead, always remember the family from Louisiana who just made the decision to come and did it. That’s confidence. Just get it done. It’s hard work to learn something you don’t know about, especially for women and men passed over by technology. These include our seniors, our immigrants and the underserved and underrepresented areas all over the country where confidence and new computers are lacking.
If you ever think you can’t learn something new, then call me, email me or text me. I will prove you wrong. I know everyone has the ability in themselves to improve, grown confidence, get that dream job, build your dream business and most of all, kick some ass.
If you need help, come to one of our Geek Girl TechCons, or one of our events, workshops, meetups or seminars to learn more. Or Hire a Geek Girl. Our reach is limited at this time but we are growing.
And if you already ARE a Geek Girl, then why don’t you become a part of Geek Girl and help others in your community.
Oh, and just so you know, YES…we are planning on doing a Geek Girl TechCon somewhere in Newellton, Louisiana…some day…..
Little sister Katie sporting her Geek Girl camo at camp!