Guilford Teen Making A Difference One Computer At A Time

GUILFORD, CT — Several years ago, Guilford resident Jim Glass, now 15, accompanied his mother Joyce and their newly-trained therapy dogs to a domestic violence shelter on Long Island.

It was during the summer, and because of the heat, the residents at the shelter, especially the children, couldn’t do much playing outside. The children also had limited toys to play with, and there wasn’t much technology at the shelter for the residents to utilize.

Wanting to fill a void and give the gift of technology, Glass, a computer and engineering enthusiast, stepped in.

Find out what's happening in Guilfordwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Glass built a desktop computer equipped with video games and a Windows operating system using money he raised independently, and donated the machine to the shelter in August 2020.

“I delivered it and the kids were really happy to see it,” Glass recalled. “One of the parents who was there said it would really help out because they hadn’t had a computer in a while, and it was a struggle to try and find jobs. They can use that for finding jobs or anything online.”

Find out what's happening in Guilfordwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

What initially started as a way to give children access to technology blossomed into something bigger, and Digital Haven was born. The organization’s mission is to allow people and organizations access they wouldn’t normally have to computers, and to raise awareness and interest about technology.

Glass will get in touch with an organization or individual in need of a computer or hear about them through word of mouth, ascertain their needs and get monetary donations to buy the proper parts to build a computer from scratch. Glass will also do research, raise funds and purchase the right laptop that will meet the needs for the donee.

Glass’ father is a computer engineer, so technology has been a big part of his life. Glass said he learned “through osmosis” the different components that go into a computer and how to build one from scratch.

“Technology and engineering as a whole is kind of what I want to do with my life. It’s what I’ve been interested in, and it’s been my passion pretty much for as long as I can remember,” said Glass, a junior who is enrolled in The School For Young Performers based in New York City.

In August 2023, Glass built a laptop for a Ukrainian woman in need at the Woman & Family Life Center in Guilford.

“They had taken in a Ukrainian refugee and she was a graphic designer. There were specific programs she used, like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. They’re not the most intensive programs, but they take a little bit of power to run… You need a good laptop to run that.”

Glass put together a couple hundred dollars from friends and family, along with some of his own money, and bought a laptop that would do the job.

“I think she’s been using it ever since,” Glass said.

In October 2023, Glass donated a desktop to the Carolina Reptile Center in Mooresville, N.C. The Glass family has another property in North Carolina.

The computer will enable the center to keep statistics on the animals they care for. They can also use the computer to train volunteers and conduct Zoom calls with different animal organizations.

Most recently earlier this month, Glass donated a laptop to the Huneebee Project in New Haven.

The nonprofit organization offers transferable job-skills training and equitable employment opportunities to local youth, while also installing honey bee hives and pollinator gardens in community spaces.

A team member at the Huneebee Project will borrow the laptop at Gateway Community College, explained the organization’s founder and Executive Director Sarah Taylor.

The student had registered for a class but was going to drop it when she learned that a photoshop program was required, Taylor said. Her computer was not compatible.

But thanks to the new laptop, she’ll be able to further her education.

“She wants to be a photographer. Using photography as a way of connecting with community and as a way of self-expression is a component of our programming and our youth trainees and youth employees will continue to use the computer and photoshop to develop these skills, promote the photographs they take, and increase visibility of the work they are doing throughout New Haven’s community gardens with Huneebee Project,” Taylor told Patch.

Glass, who is also a member of the Junior Board for Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, said he hopes to continue donating computers if time allows during his college career.

“One thing that’s not really donated in high volume is technology because it can get pretty expensive pretty quickly,” Glass said. “This has been really fulfilling and really memorable. I really like it, I really enjoy it, and I really like knowing that these machines are going to help people do things they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”

For more information on Digital Haven, visit the organization’s website.

Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.

Click Here: