“When one door closes, another opens,” states a quotation credited to Alexander Graham Bell. Many people know the sentiment, but few are familiar with the rest of the quote: “We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
The team at Computers4Kids (C4K), a Charlottesville, Virginia, nonprofit that provides mentoring for low-income youth, cannot afford to make that mistake. Their operating budget is too thin, and their mission too important to let opened doors go unnoticed. You might say the leadership at C4K recognized an opportunity in 2016 and struck before it even had a chance to become a door.
As part of a remodeling project to create additional space to serve its members (the term used for the students in Grades 7 through 12 that C4K serves), the nonprofit gratefully accepted a REHAU donation of RAUVISIO crystal board, a high-end cabinetry door material, and turned it into a multiuse whiteboard that spans the full height and width of one wall in the center’s “clubhouse.”
As C4K board member Lisa Hogan explains it, she was familiar with RAUVISIO because it was used in her own kitchen when she lived in Switzerland years earlier. “We had marked on them and wiped them clean. I was really impressed with that product,” she says.
When Hogan heard about C4K’s desire to turn a full wall into a whiteboard that kids could work on during one-on-one tutoring and group projects, the glass-like kitchen cabinets she had back in Switzerland came to mind. REHAU donated the material and Enoch Snyder Design Build, a local firm, installed the wall-sized whiteboard.
RAUVISIO crystal is a polymer back-painted glass surface with excellent scratch- and impact-resistance, and breathtaking mirror-quality optical-grade reflection. It can be used to create a frameless surface that can be written on with whiteboard markers and wipes clean without ghosting. RAUVISIO crystal’s elegant look makes it a favorite for cabinetry and countertops in high-end homes. For the kids at C4K, it’s where their ideas come to life.
“Everything is open-ended when the kids come in, so it’s used in a lot of different ways,” explains Matt Burke, C4K clubhouse coordinator. When a group of kids filmed an animated movie, the RAUVISIO crystal wall became a working document to plan out scenes for the film project. Another time, the board was completely filled with a mural. “If someone is tutoring in math they will turn around and write on the wall rather than huddle over a piece of paper. That often generates involvement among the group,” Burke says.
He has since seen similar wall-sized whiteboards at an office for Google and in the media lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It seems like this type of tool is finding its way into corporate America,” Burke says. That’s important because part of the center’s mission is to prepare kids they mentor for what they will experience in college settings and in the business world.
C4K Program Director Lizzie Hoeppner says the huge white wall is a sort of symbol for the unlimited possibilities that C4K members have in front of them. “Being able to see the huge wall and have access to all of it is a big deal. The potential is very big.”