At reBOOT Canada, we work hard all year round, bridging the gap between technology and under-served communities and individuals across Canada. As we work to fulfil over 1,000 requests for laptops and desktops this year, we wanted to give our readers more insight into what it takes to make that happen, and it would not be possible without the work of our Director of Operations, Lars Verholt.
Through donations we work to make the internet and digital tools accessible to under-served communities and individuals across Canada, to ensure that communities and individuals are connected in a way that allows them to build capacity for self-sufficiency, all while improving their employment and education prospects.
We have an incredible team at reBOOT Canada, who work diligently to bring donated IT assets up to standard to be re-introduced into these communities, and we are thrilled to put our Director of Operations, Lars Verholt in the spotlight to highlight his role and impact on the reBOOT Canada team.
Lars joined reBOOT Canada in 2015 as manager of its Peterborough office when the local non-profit group that operated reBOOT Peterborough decided to divest it. The following year Lars became Manager of Retail and Solutions, where he was responsible for the reBOOT Canada retail program. This program ensures that refurbished computers are accessible to the community at an affordable price. These units are easy to repair, and should get several years of enjoyment at a low price with low maintenance costs.
Lars moved into his current role as Director of Operations at reBOOT Canada in 2020, still working from our Peterborough location. As the Director of Operations, Lars plays a vital role in ensuring everything runs smoothly, while also creating effective long-term strategies to optimize reBOOT Canada’s operations including growth, efficiency and partner relationships. We sat down with Lars to learn more about him, and his role with reBOOT Canada.
What initially drew you to work for reBOOT Canada?
I originally volunteered for the local reBOOT Peterborough shop in the 2000s after I moved to town. Several years later, I was working for reBOOT Peterborough, became its manager in 2008 and in 2015 officially united with reBOOT Canada. I have a technology background, and I like helping people, so reBOOT Peterborough/Canada allowed me to fulfil both aspects of my work aspirations.
What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of working with reBOOT Canada?
It’s knowing that at the end of the day you have made a difference. Whatever I do in a day may not be as directly related to the end user as it was 10 years ago, but I still think I play a part in hopefully making someone’s life easier.
Are there any misconceptions about retired IT assets that you want the community to know?
It’s not as common a misconception as it was several years ago, but we still see it: It’s the “This computer is no good to me any longer, so it should probably get thrown out”. Through each donation, we prove otherwise.
What happens when a donation is donated to reBOOT Canada? What is that donation process?
When a piece of equipment is donated to reBOOT Canada, we will register it in our donation system. We then evaluate if it contains a data drive. Only certain types of devices, naturally, will contain a data drive. If the device is a computer, tablet or smartphone, we will ensure that the donor’s data is securely removed. Depending on the individual device this data removal process may include removing the data drive from the device (e.g. removing a hard drive from a computer). Any data is then removed from the data drive.
If the device does not contain a data drive we can decide right away if we want to keep the device or if it should be recycled. Devices that are destined for recycling are then sorted and stored until next time our recycling partner stops by.
Devices that are destined for reuse are carefully inspected and tested. Devices that pass the test are put into inventory and reused in our various programs.
How valuable is one donation?
One donation can translate into multiple families receiving a computer. For example, a donation of two laptop power chargers or even a broken computer that has a useful part in it, can make all the difference.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
To me, it’s when we are able to help different people in a day. We can help a family living with low income obtain technology, we may also solve a technical problem for a fellow non-profit organization, or we may order a brand new laptop for a small business customer. At the heart of what we do, it is always about providing access to technology. Sometimes we provide that to someone who could choose to work with another vendor, but they choose us because of what we stand for and because of the work we do.
As the end of the year quickly approaches, Lars and the reBOOT Canada team will continue to accept donations of retired IT assets, and re-introduce them into communities across the country as reBOOT Canada continues to bridge the technology gap.
If you are looking for more information on our programs, and how you can help, visit our website.