Making a Difference Through ‘Teachable, Reachable’ Moments

Bill Soards – President, AT&T Indiana
March 27, 2024
Community Impact

Making a Difference Through ‘Teachable, Reachable’ Moments

When we visited Studio Bee for a laptop distribution event, the nonprofit’s executive director was hopping back and forth between his office and where we were giving away the computers outside. At first glance, you might have wondered if he was tied up with something else. But the reality was, he was constantly running to his office to call the folks in his Boonville, Indiana, community who hadn’t yet showed up for their laptop. He wanted to make sure they received their free, refurbished computer from AT&T before the day was done.  

The executive director I was so happy to meet that day in Boonville was Randy Beard. A former teacher, business owner and musician, Randy took a couple of minutes recently to talk with us about his beloved Studio Bee and how he shares our goal of connecting people to greater possibilities. 

Tell us a bit about Studio Bee. What do you love most about your mission? 

The impact of our faith-based organization comes from different directions, at different times. For example, every year we give out school supplies. Families sign up, and then we try to get everything K-12 students need for the school year. For them to start school with as few worries as possible is so important. Last year, we helped more than 300 children get geared up with supplies. 

We also have camps for both kindergarten through second graders and third through fifth graders. At these camps, we have physical activities. We also do emotional exercises like “Write It Out to Get It Out.” These are really fun because I’ll add original music to what the kids write, on the spot. One year, we included a camp program that was based on the genres of literature. 

Other ways we make an impact: Tuesday night dinners, where we provide food, a craft and music; holiday and “give-and-go” food distributions; and a soccer program that’s just growing and growing. 

I love that we’re there for Boonville – for the families and the children – through teachable and reachable moments. It’s fantastic to see how our Bee volunteers treat the families we serve with respect. In particular, seeing the older kids mentor the young ones is so great. 

In today’s world, how important is internet connectivity to the people you serve? 

It’s really important. When we post something online about school supplies or food giveaways, and then you go to social media and you see how all the local schools are sharing that information with their families, you know how connectivity can mean the difference between someone having their notebooks and pencils – or even their meals – or not.  It’s been crucial to getting the word out to Boonville families.   

How are you helping bridge the digital divide in your community? 

The best example I can share is our collaboration with AT&T that led to around 90 local families bringing home their very own laptops. That day was a joyous day. We saw how incredibly thankful the folks were.  

To have these laptops year-round – meaning, the students don’t have to turn them in over the summer – it’s life-changing. 

After we distributed the laptops, I had a mother tell me that her son is now absolutely loving to read on his laptop. She said he is truly “engaged” in reading. And there’s clearly a little more independence when you have your own computers – more so than when you have to wait on a family member or friend to have access.  They can read, they can learn, they can look up a program. It’s a win-win. 

It’s an honor to be involved with Studio Bee. And this laptop event was among the many cherries on top. 

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