Tech Support Extraordinaire
The Harris Center has been the beneficiary of Roberta’s tremendous generosity since 1992, when she first began volunteering here. She has served in many capacities, but most crucially as the Harris Center’s technological wizard! Roberta brought the Harris Center into the wired world, and continues to keep the office humming, troubleshooting any technological problems that may arise.
“I really like the troubleshooting. One of the most gratifying things was when the Harris Center got zapped by lightning that took down two computers. But the hard drives were still intact. I found the exact same computer models on eBay and just had to plunk the hard drives into the eBay computers. That was so much fun!”
Prior to 1992, Roberta lived in Massachusetts and did technical writing for a living. There came a point when she realized that the only time of year that she was really happy was when she vacationed in Acadia National Park in Maine.
“I wanted more quiet, water, and mountains. Once I discovered Hancock and the Harris Center, Peterborough and its bookstore, and the mountain and so much water for kayaking, I knew what I needed to do.”
Roberta also fell in love with Old Dublin Road. She found a house there, bought it, and moved to Hancock, continuing to commute to Chelmsford for her job at Hewlett-Packard. Shortly thereafter, Roberta contacted the Harris Center to see how she could be of assistance.
“One of the main reasons I moved here was for the Harris Center. I thought I might volunteer to help with teaching since I was a biology teacher in an earlier career and have always loved nature. Turns out, they needed help in the technological area.”
Keeping Pace with the Times
The world of technology started to explode in the mid-1990s, and Roberta was there every step of the way to help keep the Harris Center abreast of all the changes and opportunities. She’s been invaluable in outfitting our office computers — purchasing high quality computers inexpensively, making the user interfaces as useful as possible, and paring down the unneeded ‘junk’ that often comes pre-installed — and is always just a phone call away if any glitches arise. Roberta was also responsible for building the Harris Center’s first website in 1998 and publishing our first online calendar of events, all on volunteer time.
That same year, Roberta retired from her job at Hewlett-Packard. Not one to be idle, she took the opportunity to give even more of her time and talent by volunteering on various Harris Center committees. Over the years, she’s served on the Building Renovation Capital Campaign Committee, the Ad Hoc Building Use Committee, the Landscaping Committee, and the Environmental Studies Institute Steering Committee.
Benefiting from “Beeson’s Law”
One of the things we appreciate most about Roberta is that, in addition to donating her time to help the Harris Center in so many ways, she’s also very thrifty. Roberta goes by “Beeson’s Law”: never pay full price! To this end, she always finds refurbished equipment for the Harris Center to purchase when a computer or printer is needed.
“I like being ‘behind the scenes.’ I used to even get used office equipment, like chairs and file cabinets, and I refinished doors to make desks. It’s gratifying to get tools for people who need them to work well—and to save money in the process. That turned out to be how I could help the Harris Center most.”
The Harris Center has reaped enormous savings over the years, thanks to Roberta, and it’s immensely helpful to have a volunteer computer consultant who lives just a few doors down the road and is always willing to help troubleshoot. All of us at the Harris Center have deep gratitude for this special neighbor!
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.