Brian Hughes is the technology coordinator at Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue. In the mornings he serves as the resident tech guy, keeping up the organization’s internal and external websites, troubleshooting technology issues and helping out with technology at other Club sites. But in the afternoon he transforms into a teacher and mentor, as he teaches Club Tech programs to about 100 kids per day.
For many, Brian is the picture of success and someone the youth who walk through the Club’s door aspire to be. However, getting to where he is today was a long and oftentimes difficult journey, one that Brian would not have achieved without both his Boys & Girls Club and passion for technology.
From Here ...To say Brian Hughes faced many challenges growing up is a bit of an understatement. He grew up in a public housing project in Bellevue, Wash., and in a household full of abuse and alcoholism. “Let’s just say I was a bad kid. I was very smart, so if I wasn’t putting my brain to good use, I was putting it to bad use. On top of that, I had parents that weren’t very involved in my life and didn’t pay attention to what I was getting into,” Brian says.
Starting in middle school, Brian was a frequent visitor to the Boys & Girls Club located in his low-income housing site. He would stop by on his way home from school to check email and play games on the computers. After spending many afternoons watching the IT director fix computers, he became hooked on the idea of taking computers apart, putting them back together and using his interest in technology to fix things. Soon after his passion started to flourish, Brian became a computer lab volunteer, a valued job in the Club where he could work on the computers. But Brian still couldn’t stay entirely out of trouble and he wasn’t doing well in school, something that was neither a priority to him nor his parents.
One day, a staff member came to Brian with a proposal. They had recently started a Club Intranet that wasn’t being well-maintained. If Brian could re-do the site in a weekend, then he would get the technology coordinator’s job. He stayed up all weekend and re-engineered the whole back end of the site. When he came into the Club the following day, the staff was shocked at his work to say the least, but he earned the job. However, the job came with a catch. Brian had to bring his grades in every two weeks and if he was doing well in school, then he could keep his job.
“The Club staff really wanted me to succeed and do well in school. If it wasn’t for the staff at my Boys & Girls Club, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
To There ...After he worked at his Club site awhile, Brian started moving to different Boys & Girls Clubs in his area and at 18 he was teaching technology skills to kids of all ages. After a few years, he left the Boys & Girls Club to work for Best Buy’s Geek Squad; however after some time he wanted to go back to the place he always thought of as home. Now Brian gets to show kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue how much fun technology can be.
“A lot of these kids can use computers better than their parents do! Every day is an opportunity for them to use computers for education and free time. We get the most up-to-date software from Microsoft which allows us to stay with current, cutting-edge technology that kids need to succeed in school and later in their career.”
Because Brian grew up in a tough community, he lacked a lot of respect, rules and boundaries, a common theme to many kids that come through his Club. He now serves as a mentor, providing advice and talking on a level youth in his community can relate with. He also uses computers and technology as a goal or reward, which may include a special job in the tech center. Most of the time, the reward is teaching kids something they want to learn.
“I’ve gone through things that these kids are facing and can be the person to help them work through it. I can give them a chance to succeed through technology. I love that I come to the Club and make kids smile. Having the opportunity to turn a horrible day into a great day is the most rewarding part of my job. It’s incomparable.”
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