Fundraising Letter 0412

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This letter, dated December 7, 2004, was written by Marie Deatherage (board of directors, elected fall 2005.)

One of the worst moments of my life came in 1996 when I walked into Wilson High School one day around noon to take Blaine a book he had forgotten at home. I knew it was his lunch hour so I went straight to the cafeteria. I quickly began scanning the room, wondering how I was going to find him amidst the noisy and chaotic crowds of laughing, chattering, bouncing-up-and-down students. Then I saw him. There he was, sitting all alone in his wheelchair, at a large round table intended to seat a dozen. In fact, when I looked more closely, I could see that other students had moved chairs from his table to others nearby, crowding in where there wasn’t enough room, so they could be near their friends.

The next sound I heard was that of my heart breaking into a thousand pieces. From that moment, I could no longer deny that despite his engaging and sociable nature, as every year went by, Blaine was becoming more and more isolated at school and in the world. The other kids, through no ill intention, just overlooked and swept by him more and more often as they moved faster and more confidently through the world. The enormity of that reality nearly flattened me.

For the next several years, I feared that this would be Blaine’s lot in life. I focused on making certain that at least at home, he would feel he entirely belonged. At least he can connect with other people via the Internet, I comforted myself. For a while I didn’t have the strength or courage to imagine he would find a place in the real world where he utterly feels included.

Then he found Free Geek and the world changed for both of us. At least four days a week, Blaine gets up and gets himself ready and heads to Free Geek where he volunteers as an assistant build instructor and helps people in need learn how to build and repair computers. If Ric can’t take him, Blaine takes the bus and wheels the several blocks from the bus stop to the front door. When Ric tells me that when he drops Blaine off he hears several people call out, “Hey, Blaine, glad you’re here, there’s something we need you to take a look at,” my heart mends itself and soars like a hawk. I didn’t dare dream this day would ever come. What I see happening at Free Geek, both for Blaine and any number of other overlooked people in our world, is nothing short of magic.

If you are one who looks for good places to make your tax exempt cash donations at the end of the year, during the season when we all try to remind ourselves of our good fortune and our opportunity to share it with others, I heartily recommend you consider making a donation to Free Geek (see enclosed materials & SASE). I can’t imagine a more important contribution.

Thank you so much for lending an ear, a very happy holiday season to you and yours,

Marie Deatherage

P.S. You’ll see what I mean when you take a look at the Free Geek gang on the other side.


Right where he belongs: Blaine is just another geek at the Free Geek Community Technology Center

Free Geek Community Technology Center
1731 SE 10th
Portland, Oregon 97214

“helping the needy get nerdy since the beginning of the third millennium”

You can also donate via or pay pal on Free Geek’s website ( and donations of computers and other electronic equipment are accepted at the Community Technology Center during business hours