A Child's Exposure to Technology Should Never Be
&nbsp Predicated On The Ability To Afford It

The HeliOS Project Directors

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    Ken Starks

    Ken is the founder and Lead Director of The HeliOS Project. Ken describes how this project started as "A lucky break". He was working 38 feet in the air, pressure washing a building for his power washing company when the lift failed and he fell, fracturing his spine at the neck. While restrained and convalescing, his then 11 year old daughter Amanda asked her Daddy..."How does a computer work?" Ken instructed her to get get one from the office and they took it apart on his lap. It was from there that the HeliOS Project began. What started as a hobby by way of boredom turned into his life's calling. Ken enlisted the help of two Veteran friends in gathering old machines and fixing them. The work surface evolved from a halo-device wheel chair to a dining room table. From there the garage at his house and then to a donated facility in Lakeway Texas. In recognition of his work with children and families in the Austin Texas area, Ken was presented with the Dewey Winburne Community Service Award during the 2010 South By South West event here in Austin. Since then Ken has gathered highly dedicated and trusted Directors to help him. One man can see a dream but it takes others to make it happen. Below are those who have done so.

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    Larry Cafiero

    Larry and Ken have a fairly long history together. Larry was the main force behind an event called "Lindependence 2008" in Felton California. It was a project designed to show and entire town the benefits of Free and Open Source Software. Since The HeliOS Project uses Linux on the computers they give to their kids, it was only fitting to ask one of the most recognized and active FOSS advocates in the US to accept a Directorship. Larry graciously did so. As an editor for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Larry is in a perfect position to help The HeliOS Project with press releases, news announcements and other media matters. Larry is a professional Journalist so his expertise has been invaluable to this effort. Larry lives in Scotts Valley, California with his wife and Daughter. He runs his own business in Felton and his focus is to introduce businesses and individuals to the benefits of the Linux operating system and Free Open Source Software. His Daughter Mirano is following in her Dad's footsteps in the Free Software world and has even delved into the code that makes up much of the software within Linux. Being an open source system, the code is readily available for improvement, unlike Microsoft offerings which is proprietary and closed to public observation.

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    Skip Guenter

    Skip (Stephen) Guenter has been a crucial part of our effort for two years. Skip was part of the hardware team during the first Linux Against Poverty and his knowledge of hardware as it pertains to building functional computers has been invaluable. It is not uncommon for Skip to take recently donated equipment, load it in his car and spend his free time at his work bench at home getting this stuff ready to go out. Skip resides in Hutto Texas with his wife Sharon and and his two monster dogs Kaiser and Blue. He has given The HeliOS Project countless hours of his time in getting donated machines ready for deployment. The addition to Skip Guenter as the Director of Systems Engineering will solidify our efforts and insure that I don't blow up any more perfectly re-buildable machines. Skip is a Senior Manager at Computer Sciences Corporation where he has been employed since 1983. He's also traveled to Beijing and spent a year there working for CSC. He has recently returned from India where he led a problem-solving project to completion. When he's not working or tinkering with computers, he's usually asleep. Skip is a critical part of what we do and we could not do it without him.

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    Bob Pianka

    Residing with his wife and children in the Tampa Bay area, Bob has provided us his talents as Community Outreach Director. While Larry can do the local and national media coverage, Bob communicates with the widely-dispersed Linux and Open Source Community and helps us disseminate information about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and any logistical assistance we may need. Bob's persistence has helped us greatly in announcing events such as Linux Against Poverty, Lindependence 2008 and other efforts in which we've been involved. Bob spends an inordinate amount of time and effort in helping us reach out to the huge Open Source Community and without his help, we would not be where we are today. Bob runs a home repair and remodeling business and a computer repair service business. He also operates a scaled-down version of The HeliOS Project in his home town when time allows. He enjoys the love and support of his Wife Marybeth and his children Amanda (the artiste), Joshua (the Techie) and his two-year-old son Joseph.

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    Darrel Raynor

    Darrel came to us almost two years ago with some fairly astute observations. We did not have anyone doing any real organizing for donated equipment or assets. With that email, Darrel Raynor became our Director of Asset Management and has been extremely important to us since. Darrel owns LT AutoCare in Lakeway Texas and was generous enough to offer us something we needed badly...space in which to operate. With his offer, The HeliOS Project was delivered from a hot, musty garage into a 2500 square foot space in his repair facility. It is from there that space that we now operate our storage and repair facility. Volunteers often assemble at the HeliOS facility to put together the machines that drive our effort. Professionally, Darrel is the Managing Director for Data Analysis & Results, Inc. He is also Director of Project Management Program at St. Edward's University Professional Education Center. Yeah, Darrel is a busy guy but the truism holds...if you want something done, ask a busy person. We are glad we did.

Bits & Bytes

  • Others Involved

    While the people listed here are involved in the day to day operations and planning for the HeliOS Project, there are many more that are directly or indirectly involved that are just as valuable to us that need to be thanked. In no particular order, they are:

    Clement Lefebvre and the Linux Mint Community
    Ron West
    Don Davis
    Lynn Bender
    Gene and Wanda Lake
    Gavin Sheaiden
    Carla Schroeder
    Tracy Anne
    Eric Williams
    Christian Einfeldt
    More to come...

Recent Testimonial

  • Ken,
    We all wanted to let you know how much we appreciate what you do, not just for us, but for all the kids in Austin who need it. Simon and Sawyer love their computer you set up for us... they're having fun and learning at the same time. I am so grateful that their educational playing field has been leveled and that they are no longer in danger of falling behind due to a lack of technology and resource. You brought something to them that every child should have available to them, but unfortunately aren't always able to get no matter how hard their parents work. People like you are so special, and we're glad to have met you and had our lives touched by your generosity. Your dedication and hard work, coming over and giving your time to set everything up, help us with the system and to teach us new things, it's a rare thing. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
    Janna, Brad, Simon, & Sawyer