I was originally introduced to the Best Buy Teen Tech Center through Jenny Garcia, a Family Services employee. Jenny setup a meeting and introduced me to Lalo the Best Buy Teen Tech Center Coordinator. The Best Buy Teen Tech Center is located at the Neighborhood Place, a community resource center located off Riva’s street on the Westside of San Antonio, TX. I was blown away with the space. I was greeted by Lalo and his staff, they were soft spoken and outgoing, a great combination. They showed me around the space and it just made me excited. The space has everything, printers, vinyl cutter, music production equipment and space, computers, photo and video equipment, 3D printing, computer hardware workshop and so much more I am forgetting to include.
After showing me around we began talking about the space in terms of engagement and they explained how they primarily serve the community geographically around the center as transportation in San Antonio is a major hardship in general. They did mention that some participants have come from as far as Helotes, a small town on the edge of the Northside of San Antonio. They said they regularly have 10-20 students come a day for their after school hours.
Lalo said they have a mentor program for the students where volunteers come to the Best Buy Tech Center and mentor students, give workshops and pitch in with projects. He said they were having some initial success with mentors but were wanting to expand and build out their mentoring pool. We talked a bit and I told them a bit about myself. I told them I would love to help them garner volunteers, as well as volunteer myself. I also offered to have the next Convergent Media Collective meeting at the Teen Tech Center which Lalo said would be awesome and we set it for March 22nd.
Then a couple weeks later Lalo contacted me about the Teen Tech Center having a Tech Career Panel on February 22nd and was looking for volunteers. I told him I would reach out to all the communities I knew and ask for people to respond directly back. I was able to reach out and garner volunteers to show up and the panel was a huge success.
Mark Solis a local game developer and tech entrepreneur, Raul Velazquez a senior networking engineer, Rachel Davis a communications specialist, Wes Etheredge a lead software development engineer and I were on the panel. We were definitely an eclectic motley crew. It was great getting to talk to the young adults who showed up. We had a great moderator and when it came time for Q&A the young adults asked some great questions. After the panel we all shared some snacks and sat an talked. I was able to find out some skills various students would like to learn, such as printing their own stickers, making beats on Abelton and game development. So now for our Convergent Media Collective meeting we will be able to have some demos ready to show that pertain to their interests.
So yes, openED SA is very proud to have not only been able to feature the great work of the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, but are also proud say we will be directly engaging with their community for the foreseeable future!
If you are interested in volunteering or being a mentor please contact:
Best Buy Teen Tech Center Coordinator I
Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc.
3014 Rivas Street / San Antonio / Texas / 78228
Office Phone: 210-431-7529