Thank you for offering to volunteering at Free Geek! We are almost entirely volunteer-based, so your help means a lot.
Anyone may participate, as long as they can make it to our facility to volunteer. No computer experience is required; we'll teach you everything you need to know.
If you need a computer: After 24 hours of service, volunteers qualify for a free computer. We also hope that you learn a bit about computers while you're volunteering. This is called the Computer Adoption Program.
If you don't need a computer but still want to volunteer: Yay! Your help is appreciated too! Instead of receiving a computer, you can opt for a $50 store credit voucher instead.
What Do Volunteers Do At Free Geek?
- Receiving, where you'll take in equipment from donors
- Evaluating, where you'll test computers to see if they can be re-used or not
- Dismantling, where you'll take apart computers for recycling
- Testing, where you'll test different parts
- Cleaning, where you'll help organise and clean up the kitchens, bathrooms, and general areas
You also have the opportunity to do some special tasks, like help out in the Thrift Store, or assist with special tasks. There are other things that need doing too – if you have special skills, please let us know!
Scheduling & Starting Your Shift
Signing In & Out
Sign in: When you arrive, sign in at the volunteer sign-in computer. Ask staff for any tools you need, and go to your station. If you have a bag or coat, you can hang them in the kitchen, or inside the lockers next to the kitchen door.
Sign out: When you are finished for the day, tidy your workspace, return any tools you've borrowed, and sign out. If you leave the building during your shift (to get lunch etc), you do not need to sign out - but please return any tools first.
We'll schedule you for your first shift when you drop off an application. After your first shift, you can sign up for any free shift on the schedule clipboard located near the stairs to the store. You can also call in during Free Geek hours, or email us, to schedule a shift. If you're interested in some of the areas not located on the schedule (such as laptop build, misc testing, or Thrift Store assistance, please talk to a staff member first. You can volunteer regularly, or not, it's up to you. We're flexible! Volunteer shifts are 11AM-2PM, and 3PM-6PM, Tues-Sat.
Change a shift: Talk to a human to do this, please. Call us during open hours, email us, or drop by.
Canceling a shift: If you aren't able to make it for your shift, please phone or email us with as much notice as possible (a minimum of 24 hours in advance is preferred) so another volunteer can take your place.
Bicycles: There is a bike rack in the front of the building.
Cars: Please find street parking. The parking lot in front of our building belongs to our neighbour, so don't park there as they will tow you! The Free Geek parking lot (in the lane behind our building) is reserved for people dropping off computers. If you park in the lane behind our building, we may require you to move your vehicle to accommodate large trucks making deliveries.
We encourage you to take at least a 15 minute breaks during a 3 hour shift; this time is not deducted from your hours. All volunteers must leave the warehouse between 2 and 3 PM. Take Breaks!
Eating food is only permitted in the kitchen or outside. Remember to wash your hands before you eat, to keep dust, allergens & residue from getting in your food. You can have a water bottle with you while you work, as long as it is sealed; try to put it in a place where it won't get tipped over. You can keep your lunch in the fridge.
According to new legislation, and for the consideration of others, you may not smoke within 6 meters of any entrance. There is a can for ashes located near the rear entrance.
Health & Safety
Please stay safe, and alert a staff member if you see an unsafe situation that needs attention. We ask the following of you while you're here:
If you are cut at Free Geek and it bleeds (even a tiny cut), tell staff right away! Please do not access the First Aid Kit yourself; ask for staff assistance.
If you hurt yourself, even if you think it's minor, tell a staff person immediately! This kind of communication provides us with valuable feedback to make Free Geek safer, and enables our First Aid attendant to evaluate the situation.
Gloves are mandatory when working in the warehouse. We will give you a pair for free on your first shift. If you forget them at home, we have gloves available for purchase for a $3 donation. You can bring your own, but they must be sturdy and free of holes.
If your back or ankle or anything else starts hurting while you're volunteering, let us know and we'll have you do a different task, help you find a stool, etc. Whatever helps you stay comfortable.
Wear comfortable shoes (no open toes or sandals allowed). Watch your step, as things get moved around a lot. Keep pathways clear of stuff (computers, stools, buckets, etc) at all times.
When you lift things, don't bend over to pick them up. Bend from the knees and keep your back straight. Don't be shy to ask for help!
If you need any special consideration at all, let a staff member know so that we can work with you and help you get the most from your volunteer term.
If you have a cold, we ask that you stay home & take care of yourself. If you feel a cold coming on while you're in the space, try to wash your hands a lot, and consider leaving early.
Keep your bag in the lockers, and hang your coat in the kitchen. Do not keep your bag at your workstation; this is a tripping hazard.
Free Geek is a safe, inclusive, respectful place. We don't allow harassment, abusive language, violence, theft, or other destructive behaviors here. Help keep our organization fun and inviting for all! If you feel uncomfortable with someone's behavior, let staff know.
Please follow Free Geek policies and instructions given by our staff while you're volunteering. This helps keep Free Geek a safe place. If you have questions about policies or practices, ask us!
Stealing or violent behavior will get you immediately banned from Free Geek.
Getting Your Computer
Once you have completed your 24 hours of volunteer time, talk to the Desktop Build Coordinator about getting your free computer. If you do not know how many hours you have, talk to the Volunteer Coordinator
We call the computer we give away an Adoption Box. It runs the Ubuntu GNU/Linux operating system, and has software installed for word processing, using the internet, listening to music, and other activities. The current specifications are as follows:
Dual Core processor (2.16GHz or better) 2GB of RAM 80 GB hard drive DVD-RW, sound and video capability Internet ready with network card (no wifi) Comes with: 17” LCD Monitor, keyboard, and mouse
Adoption Policy: Members of the adoption program can get their first computer after 24 hours of volunteering at Free Geek. Subsequent computers can be obtained only once per year, after another 24 hours of service. Please note: Adoption Boxes are the only systems we offer through the Adoption Program. You cannot volunteer for components, other kinds of systems, or laptops. If you wish to purchase another item, you may obtain a $50 store credit note instead of a computer.
Volunteer Discount in the Thrift Store
If you need additional computer equipment or parts (like a printer, or more RAM), you can purchase it at our Thrift Store, located at the top of the stairs. If you have volunteered at least 12 hours over the last 90 days, you get a volunteer discount. The current discount is 20% off for laptops and high-end desktop systems, and 40% off all other items.
Tech Support & Computer Help
Every Wednesday is our Open Help Night, a free drop-in night for hardware questions, as well as free and open source software questions. It's at Free Geek from 6PM - 9PM. Always check our website to see if it is on as scheduled.
Please don't ask us for technical support during the day, since we're busy with Free Geek's day-to-day operations!
Staying In The Loop
Our website: If you want to stay posted about upcoming workshops, events, and meetings, you can check our website http://www.freegeekvancouver.org
Social media: Check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/freegeekvan
Our mailing lists: The Announcement list is updated periodically, and will tell you about upcoming events. You can subscribe to it at https://groups.google.com/a/freegeekvancouver.org/forum/#!forum/fg-announce
Our open meetings: Free Geek occasionally holds monthly meetings, which are open to all. If you are interested in learning more about how our organisation runs, if you have comments or suggestions, or you want to participate in discussions about what we do here, you are welcome to attend. We announce these on our mailing lists and Facebook page when they happen.
Becoming a member: Free Geek has a membership which discusses and votes on policy decisions, and elects the Board of Directors every year. Members must be active volunteers to be able to vote. For more information, or to sign up, talk to a staff member.
Staff are here to help. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your experience at Free Geek more enjoyable!
Laptop Build Manager:
FREE GEEK COMMUNITY TECHNOLOGY CENTER
1820 Pandora St. (2 blocks north of Hastings, between Commercial & Victoria)
Tues-Sat 11am-6pm, closed Sun/Mon (and statutory holidays)
QUESTIONS? ASK US!!! Thanks for helping Free Geek!