Social worker provides laptops to economically disadvantaged college students amid pandemic

Posted at 3:23 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 20:29:15-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- It is something that almost every college student seems to have-- a laptop. But for some, it is still out of reach, but something that would be beneficial as colleges moved classes online.

This reality captured Nick Gabriel’s attention.

"People are in school trying to improve their earning potential, and this thing came out and took everybody by the legs. It didn't matter how well-prepared you were."

Gabriel is the founder and president of Hope-U, a non-profit organization that looks to help teenagers and adults ages 14-26 with resources and logistical support in order to have sustained and independent lives. Hope-U purchased 30 Asus Chromebook laptops for affected students at Tidewater Community College's Norfolk Campus.

"TCC identified a number of students that were struggling with technology and were not able to complete their coursework,” Gabriel told News 3. “So, they asked us to come up with a concept."

That concept already landed some laptops in students' hands. It was also personal because Gabriel said he recently completed his master’s degree in social work.

"As a student myself at Norfolk State,” Gabriel explained, “it became very disruptive and it was clear that people were starting to get affected."

He said the students felt thankfulness and gratefulness after he would hand them a laptop.

Related: Norfolk schools close in on digital divide as pandemic leaves students without computers

"The first thing is, (they say), 'Is there a case so I can keep it safe so I can bring it back when we're done?'" Gabriel recalled. “I say, 'No, this is for you to keep because your school is going to continue.'"

He said the organization will continue to help students and even those from other schools.

"You just want to the best for people and you can't fix everything, and I can't help everybody, but as many as I can I'm going to do my best."

The organization and its services are sustained through grants, fundraisers and donations. If you would like more information on the services they provide or would like to donate or volunteer, click here to access Hope-U’s website.

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