Events News

Success Story: Patrick Clark

For close to 20 years, Patrick Clark has stayed connected to the VCN network and has been meaningfully giving his time in different capacities – as a help|desk volunteer, board member, and digital rights advocate to name a few.

Patrick’s invaluable work and enthusiasm continues to inspire the VCN team to better serve our community. We interviewed Patrick and asked him to share what his involvement with VCN has meant to him.

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How did you become involved with VCN?

Originally, many years ago when the organization was only about four months old I was invited to an introductory get-together and was immediately drawn in by the sincere desire to provide an insurer Internet access and education to the whole community regardless of an individual’s income or position in life.  The founders of VCN had seen the writing on the wall in regards to commercial [high cost] Internet in Canada and wanted to make sure that the voices of modest or zero income people were not left out.  I immediately then began a year-long term on the board of VCN.

What are your role(s) at VCN?

Two roles officially:

1. Volunteer and;
2. Board member, and now that I think about it, there is a third role, albeit unofficial perhaps,
3. Total Hard-Core VCN Fan And Supporter. I see good things coming from VCN and I sure do let people know about it whenever the opportunity sincerely arises.

How has being a part of VCN’s network impacted your professional work?

In the year and a half I’ve been involved with the office crew and manning the help line I have learned, and been exposed to, more information and opportunities than I could ever hope to have achieved on my own.  I learned a completely new content management system “WordPress” for quickly designing web pages.  I have been able to explore various Linux operating systems, and work on a wide variety of computers both old and new.  Most importantly, because everyone at VCN is so supportive the knowledge has been free-flowing. There is no hoarding of information.  If you have a question, you get a collaborative answer. It really is the best way to work.  Not only that, there is a real sense of community that encourages questions and discussion.  In short this has been a massive boost to my knowledge base, which has resulted in several contract jobs.  A critical point is also that volunteering at VCN is real world experience, because ultimately we are there to serve and support all the people who use the organization’s Internet network and services.

How has working at VCN influenced you personally?

I have been involved with a great number of nonprofit and advocacy organizations over the years. I was becoming a little jaded because, through no fault of their own, many groups succumb to “power positioning” and hierarchical structures, ultimately focused on maintaining the status quo. Once this happens the environment becomes very stale and subtly unhealthy. VCN has done the exact opposite. Collectively they have managed to inspire, not only the community at large, but everyone who works or is involved on regular basis. There is a real sense of sincerity in everything they undertake. It is the true cooperative adventure with a real community and spirit.

What have you taken away from your experience with VCN?

Aside from everything mentioned thus far, one of the things I have been inspired to get back into is actually building electronics. I don’t think that would have had the “nerve” to even consider such a project before my exposure to the technical aspects via VCN.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

What makes VCN rock, and indeed makes them unique among many organizations is that there is a sincere cooperative spirit to everything that is undertaken. Ego does not live with this group. I think perhaps all the core people are “kindhearted radicals” who have each had to fight battles and that has given them a real understanding of community spirit in the truest sense. In short, the VCN module might be summed up as: “How can ‘We’ make this work?” Truly inspiring–is it any wonder I love VCN!