and Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Started with Wi-Fi.
A few years ago, Dan Norman, a parishioner in St. John Paul II Parish in Olathe, is looking for an art-related volunteer position.
He asked Father Andrew Strobl, pastor of Holy Name Parish in Kansas City, Kansas, at the time, if he knew of any opportunities.
Father Strobl told Norman that Holy Name of Jesus School needed help with some Wi-Fi problems.
“The Wi-Fi problem is an understatement,” Norman said with a laugh.
When Norman arrives at the school, he realizes that his art issues are more frightening.
But he is eager to help.
Since that first visit in 2016, Norman has completely renovated the school, replacing old computers with Chromebooks and helping with many small projects.
“Dan has been a true idol to our school,” said Holy Name Principal Randy Smith. “His knowledge and love for what is best for our children in the Holy Name is not something to be noticed.”
Shortly after beginning his volunteer work at Holy Name, Norman joined the school’s business team – a group of volunteers from around the cathedral who use their talents to serve the school.
The Holy Name business team is a product of the Archdiocesan School Development Program (SAP), which was developed to help schools – especially those in rural and urban areas – with enrollment and sustainability.
The archdiocese currently has nine SAP schools, and businesses like the one at Holy Name have helped them not only survive but thrive thanks to volunteers like Norman.
From 2016-17, Norman worked on streamlining the school’s technology and getting as much of it working as possible.
In the summer of 2018, he and a small group of volunteers realized they were “just putting Band-Aids on stuff,” Norman said.
He thought, “If we’re really going to get over this hill, we’re going to have to pull out all the old infrastructure so we can get Wi-Fi on campus and set it up for the next 20 years.”
From 2018-19, Norman, with the help of principal Amanda Vega, Pastor Father Anthony Ouelette, two teachers and some St. John Paul II’s Knights of Columbus, got a job.
“At that time, we pulled out old network cables, wire cables — stuff from all those years ago,” Norman said.
Eventually, the group got the money to buy new cabling and communication equipment.
“With that, and with some of my time and the time of other volunteers, we were able to completely renovate the building that year,” Norman said, “and bring the whole structure back to scrap.”
Norman also helped the school get a grant to buy 60 Chromebooks, and this year, Holy Name received more Chromebooks from the government as part of the COVID-19 relief bill.
Norman was then able to install ChromeOS on the school’s computers so they could be restored as well.
Smith said Norman’s performance was the best he had ever seen.
“I’ve worked at many schools in my career,” he said, “including an award-winning public school district that spent millions of dollars on infrastructure and technology projects.
“With Dan’s help, leadership and volunteering of time, the technical equipment we have at Holy Name is the best I have ever used.”
Norman’s efforts to keep the school’s technology running regardless of Holy Name’s students.
“We appreciate Mr. Norman’s help,” said eighth-grader Felicity Pecina. “We can complete our tasks by using our new data on a high-performance internet.”
Eighth grader Ailea Hernandez agrees.
“We have some great working Chrome books that have never been damaged, which allows us to use them for learning,” she said. “But [it] It also helps our teachers in grading and giving us online assignments.
“We really appreciate Mr. Norman’s help.”
Smith said new school employees are often surprised when they find out Norman is a volunteer and not an employee of the school.
“If we have any technical issues,” Smith said, “Dan usually takes care of it behind the scenes or walks us through any issues and resolves them quickly.
“Schools want someone with Dan’s talent.”
Norman, a software engineer at Garmin, said his work is “very closely related” to his volunteer work and that he enjoys putting his IT skills to the test.
“This is something that not many people have the knowledge or skills to do [for],” he said, “and I can.”
Serving on the Holy Name business team is an added bonus.
“It’s really exciting to see people come together for this,” he said, “and their ability to take care of some of the needs that the school has. It’s amazing.”
Smith expressed his interest in the team.
“Each businessman has his own skills that God has given to our group,” he said, “but [the care] they have our school full of heart.
“Holy Name would have a hard time opening without our business team and their leadership. Our business team members have one theme: love for the Holy Name. “
Get rid of the old technology and help the school
Holy Name of Jesus School in Kansas City, Kansas, partnered with Adams Cable Equipment in Lenexa on September 6 for an e-waste recycling drive.
The school, which recently replaced its old computers with new Chromebooks, has a lot to recycle and provides access to all parishioners at the cathedral.
The truck collected 7,016 pounds of electronics. Those who lost it can still drop off electronics Monday through Friday from 9am – 4pm at the Lenexa location.
The event was free, and since recycling high-tech items often comes at a cost, the organizers asked for donations for the Holy Name.
The school raised another $2,000 for a new phone, intercom and security system at the school.
Those interested in donating to the same fund can go online to: holynamecatholicschool.org/shop-1.