After serving twenty-five years in the Navy and teaching for five years In San Jose, California, Tom Gamber decided to move to Naples, Florida in 2000, At this time, he started to repair and teach the community about computers.
With his passion for computers and a little help from his friends at Greater Naples Leadership, Tom learned about Champions For Learning ten years ago.
At first, he started by donating computers to a few students who needed them for school but realized many more students had the same need.
In total, Tom has donated over 142 refurbished computers to Champions For Learning and has restored all 38 student lab computers to Windows 10, all through his partnership with Microsoft.
“This work for me is so important because I know that these computers are going to students who need them, if I can help even one student in his studies, I know that I have made a difference,” said Tom.
He hasn’t stopped there; Tom has also mentored students for the last eight years. “For me mentoring is exciting and I feel like I learn just as much as the students do. My favorite part about mentoring is receiving the student’s perspective on today’s issues,” said Tom.
Tom has been mentoring much longer than his time in Naples, “all teachers are mentors, as a high school teacher in San Jose, teaching inner-city students, I had to be that mentor for them,” said Tom.
During his time as a teacher, Tom built more than forty computers for students to have a place to do their homework or to just come in and play games. Later, he taught the same students how to build computers from scratch that they could take home.
“If I can teach the students I mentor anything it is that there are three stages in life; the first is learning, the second is earning, and the third is returning,” said Tom. He hopes to instill a passion for giving back to the community in his students.
As for being awarded the Star of Giving award, Tom was shocked. “I didn’t realize how big of a deal this was for students. For me, computers are my passion and I take each one as a challenge. I am proud and grateful to be a part of an organization that gives back and also invests in the future of the community,” said Tom.
The Star of Giving award was presented by Waterside Shops on behalf of Champions for Learning. The community celebrated a day of shopping at Waterside Shops on December 11th, where 10% of total sales benefited Champions For Learning!