My Journey from Digital Connectors to Employment

by Bryant Wright, Comcast Digital Connectors Program Graduate

Img-15Greetings!  My name is Bryant Wright and my journey into computer engineering started in my junior year at Dillard High, where I was enrolled in the Hi-Tech Magnet program. In that program, I was later introduced to another program that would brighten my horizon. The program that I speak of is called the Comcast Digital Connectors Program, offered by my local HandsOn Network affiliate, HandsOn Broward.

Digital Connectors wasn’t just a program that taught the latest computer skills – it was a program that taught me about giving back and spreading the knowledge that I was receiving. I was involved in many volunteer activities such as planting trees in a park, giving a school a fresh coat of paint, teaching the elderly how to use computers and holding an e-recycle drop-off event to allow the public to drop off old computers, monitors, and printers to be properly recycled.

33542_1546731741350_1220798_nNear the end of the program I was honored with the Comcast Digital Connectors Award for my outstanding work and involvement in the community. I was honored in Washington DC in front of thousands. This was a special time because it was my first time on a plane and my first time traveling out of state. I left the Digital Connectors program with a Cisco Computer Literacy certification, the ability to take my A+ Certification for free, increased skills and knowledge, and most importantly – the value of what it means to be a volunteer.

71925_1546730061308_812344_nSeven years after the program and graduating high school, I’m currently enrolled in college in pursuit of my bachelors degree in Computer Engineering. I am employed at the Museum of Discovery and Science as a computer tech, where I’ve been for 9 years. I started at the museum as a volunteer but because of the skills I obtained from the Digital Connectors program, I was able to land an internship at the museum.  That internship later turned into a part-time and then a full-time position.  On top of all that, I’m enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and have started my own IT solutions business named “TECH-IT LLC”. With all that going on, I still find time to give back to my community by volunteering with a program called “The Dennis Project”, where I mentor and help teach S.T.E.M to urban communities.

Want to learn more about how you can become part of the Comcast Digital Connectors Program?  Contact Sophia DiNardo, HandsOn Broward’s Digital Connectors Program Instructor at 954-233-1300 or


Welcome, Cachet!


HandsOn Broward would like to welcome the newest member to the HOB Family, Cachet Daley! Cachet will be serving as our new Volunteer Coordinator. Cachet comes to HandsOn Broward with a strong background in volunteerism and the unsurpassed compassion that comes with it.

Cachet harbors experience in child and family welfare, the judicial system, volunteer recruitment, event coordination, public speaking, and resourcing. She believes that social involvement is key to sustaining the community and positively charging the social atmosphere.

She seeks to inspire, equip and mobilize individuals to be the effective force that generates positive change in the lives of others and the community as a whole.

Cachet can be reached at and 954-233-1300.

December Project Leader Spotlight


Our Project Leader spotlight for December goes to rock star Nicole Untch. Nicole first heard about HandsOn Broward in high school, but because she already had enough community service hours for her silver cord, she never considered signing up until someone pointed out how much she enjoyed volunteering.

“At the end of my junior year of high school, I was going through a rough time and found it really hard to be happy. I was lucky enough to have a great friend who reminded me that he’s seen me the most happy when I was helping others,” says Nicole. “That’s when I remembered HandsOn Broward and all the positive things my peers had said about the organization. I did one project and I was hooked.”

What originally motivated Nicole to get involved in the community were her parents. As an Hispanic growing up in Missouri, Nicole felt as though she belonged to a very small minority there. Most people in her community were immigrants in tough economic situations, so Nicole’s parents always went out of their way to extend their hands to those in need. “I saw the difference their simple acts of kindness made in people’s lives and I’ve always wanted to be like them,” says Nicole.

She also states, “Volunteering has completely changed my perspective about my goals for my life. I’ve always wanted help people and volunteering has given me the chance to work very closely with all types of people. I’ll admit that my goals change every few minutes, but the one goal that has developed and stayed strong with me is to make a difference.”

Nicole volunteered several times with HandsOn Broward for events like the Children’s Services Council Back to School Community Extravaganza and In Jacob’s Shoes, before taking the lead and attending Project Leader Training. She then became one of the leaders who served on the 911 National Day of Service and Make a Difference Day at Our House in Dania Beach.

Nicole decided to become a Project Leader because she wanted to invest even more in her community. “The Project Leaders I saw at events were so happy, very involved, and great at getting the volunteers involved and I wanted to be like that. From set-up to clean-up you work with the other PLs to make each event a memorable experience and you feel great when the project is done,” says Nicole.

“My advice to new volunteers is to be willing to do anything and everything!” says Nicole. “HandsOn Broward provides so many different projects, but you can find a place in every project. Be open to getting to know new people and trying new things and you’ll have an amazing experience.”

Nicole sums up her experiences in a quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.” 


Nicole, you are the change! Thank you for your dedication to making a difference in our Broward County community.

HandsOn Broward Honored with NobleCause Grant to Foster Volunteerism

noblecause_stackHandsOn Broward, Broward County’s premier volunteer mobilization hub, has been awarded a $6,500 grant through NobleCause, a national grant competition mobilizing volunteers to address the greatest challenges facing their local communities.

These funds will support HandsOn Broward’s three-day 2017 MLK Weekend of Service Celebration that embraces Dr. King’s vision of a community coming together, collectively and collaboratively, to assist those who require a helping hand, regardless of age, gender, creed, or race. The weekend will be accomplished through three signature events:

  • The Human Race, a family-friendly 5k Run/Walk that supports programs honoring Dr. King’s vision of civic service,
  • A Sunday Supper to encourage community members and civic leaders to share a meal, discuss issues that affect our community
  • An MLK Signature Day of Service with service activities appropriate for all ages to benefit either a local charitable organization or low-to-moderate income neighborhood.

“HandsOn Broward believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of equality and social uplift is too powerful to be limited to a single day of service,” said Dale Mandell, HandsOn Broward’s CEO. “Thanks to the support of NobleCause, we’re able to bring the community together for a weekend of service to honor Dr. King’s legacy. We’re grateful to NobleCause for sharing our vision.”

NobleCause is made possible by a donor within the GiveWell Community Foundation and organized by, a volunteer management tool that promotes a culture of civic engagement and charts meaningful acts of goodness. For more than a decade, NobleHour has been connecting and equipping thousands of schools, non-profit agencies, and organizations to shape well-rounded students and service leaders, build better communities, and measure their collective impact.

In total, the NobleCause competition awarded $1,000,000 in grants, recognizing 100 organizations at the $6,500 level and seven organizations at the $50,000 level. All grant recipients demonstrated a remarkable ability to raise community awareness, foster partnerships, and cultivate leaders who take action.

“We set out to encourage communities throughout the country to tell us their big, sustainable ideas to inspire quality volunteerism,” said Wesley Barnett, managing partner for TreeTop Commons and NobleHour. “By organizing volunteers to address local concerns, NobleCause award recipients are defining social responsibility right in their own communities.”

For more information regarding 2017 MLK Weekend of Service Celebration, visit .

About HandsOn Broward: HandsOn Broward inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action to effect positive change in Broward County. To learn more about HandsOn Broward’s upcoming service opportunities or to schedule a volunteer orientation at your organization or place of business, please call 954.233.1300 or visit us online at .

About NobleHour: Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. With its robust online platform, Noblehour enhances community engagement with a variety of innovative and transformative tools for finding, tracking, and measuring volunteer, service‐learning, and community service initiatives.

With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, The NobleHour team is a dedicated group of pioneers, scientists, and artists with unbelievable talents and an astonishing willingness to think outside the norm to empower people to “do good” in their communities.

Visit to learn more!


Fort Lauderdale Nonprofit Hosts Birthday Party for Young Changemaker

Local youth celebrates his 9th birthday with a service project for children in need


Jose Guzman creates art for a care package

Jose Guzman, a small boy with a gigantic heart, dreamed about celebrating his 9th birthday by making a difference for children in his community. On November 5th, Jose’s birthday wish came true with the help of local nonprofit, HandsOn Broward. Together they planned his birthday celebration to benefit 4Kids of South Florida, a nonprofit organization that helps find homes for children in crisis.

On the day of the party, twenty of Jose’s closest friends gathered at HandsOn Broward’s offices to assemble and decorate 50 care packages filled with socks, toiletries, toys, and other items that would brighten a child’s life. Prior to the big day, Jose had successfully solicited donations to fill the boxes from his friends, family, and the community.

When asked what prompted him to celebrate his birthday this way, Jose responded, “I decided not to have a birthday party because I love helping other people. Not just myself, but other people in my community.”

He continued, “I’m thankful for HandsOn Broward because they make me feel awesome.”


Jose’s friends helped celebrate his birthday by making a difference

Jose’s mother, Jacqueline Guzman, elaborated, “I was caught by surprise to hear him tell me he wanted to help the homeless [for his birthday]. I sent emails to a few organizations to see how Jose could get involved in the community and HandsOn Broward replied with open arms.”

“We were thrilled when we received Jacqueline’s email and knew immediately that we wanted to be involved,” said Dale Mandell, HandsOn Broward’s CEO. “Jose truly represents the best of our future. His energy and dedication to helping others sets the bar high and serves as a positive model for other children. HandsOn Broward is proud to have helped plan and share this day with him.”

Perhaps the most rewarding part of the celebration came a few days later, when Jose and his mother arrived at 4Kids of South Florida to deliver the filled boxes. 4Kids received the boxes enthusiastically and immediately added Jose’s name to their Advocate Wall—a fitting testament to one boy’s desire to make a difference.

Are You Hurricane Ready?

matthewHaiti is currently being impacted by Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm. Floridians should expect to see the effects of Hurricane Matthew by Thursday, October 6th. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a Hurricane Watch has been issued from the City of Deerfield Beach north to the Brevard/Volusia County line. South of Deerfield Beach to the Florida Keys is under a Tropical Storm Watch. A Hurricane Watch is typically issued when a storm is predicted to approach within 48 hours. A more severe Hurricane Warning will be issued when a storm is considered probable, and is coming within 36 hours.

In advance of a pending storm, HandsOn Broward wants to make sure you are prepared.  Please review our Preparedness Guide and Kit Checklist below!


  •  Plan in Advance If you live in an evacuation zone and an evacuation is ordered, you are required by law to evacuate. Public shelters are a refuge of last resort. Remember, shelters are not designed for comfort, and only one shelter accepts pets, although service animals for the disabled are accepted at all shelters.
  • Identify a Safe Room – If you plan to stay at home, identify the safest room in your home. This is generally an interior room with no windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Make plans to take shelter in this room in the event of a direct hit.
  • Request Assistance if Needed – If you require special assistance in evacuating, or need to stay at a Special Needs shelter, call Broward County Human Services Department at 954-357-6385 (TTY 954-357-5608). If a member of your family is elderly, frail or disabled and may become vulnerable in the aftermath of a storm, register them with Broward County’s Vulnerable Population Registry. Visit and select RESIDENTS AT RISK, or call 311 or 954-831-4000.
  • Stock Your Hurricane Kit – View back for list of supplies including food and water that will sustain your family for three to five days, and a two-week supply of medicines.
  • If Evacuating Out of the Area, Leave Early Plan to leave as early as 48 hours in advance, and no later than the issuance of a Hurricane Watch. Keep in mind that a hurricane’s path is uncertain and you could inadvertently evacuate to an area where the storm may eventually strike. Take along your hurricane kit.
  • Document Assets Make a visual or written record of your assets for insurance purposes. Also, photograph the exterior of your home including landscaping or structures that may not be insurable but impact the value of your property. Take these records with you if you evacuate.
  • Protect Important Papers Photocopy important papers such as insurance policies and store them with a friend or in a safe deposit box outside of the hurricane area. Or, protect important family and financial documents inside a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag. If you evacuate, take these documents with you.
  • Secure Your Home – Shutter windows and glass doors, and anchor loose yard objects or bring them inside.
  • Prepare a Water Supply Know who your water service provider is so you will know if a “boil water” order applies to your home. Check your water bill if you are unsure. As the storm approaches, fill pre-sanitized sinks and tubs with clean water for bathing and flushing toilets.
  • Set Appliances Turn refrigerators and freezers to highest settings in anticipation of a power outage.
  • Get Cash Banks and ATMs do not operate without electricity.
  • Get Gas Gas pumps do not work without electricity.
  • Charge Phones Charge your cell phone and wireless phone batteries.
  • Check on Neighbors Check on your neighbors — especially the elderly and those with special needs.
  • Notify Others of Your Plans Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all family members have a single point of contact. Notify this contact and other family members and friends of your plans.
  • Plan For Your Pet Specialized pet shelters, pet-friendly hotels, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster. For a list of pet-friendly hotels and boarding kennels, visit org/Animal. If you plan to go with your pet to a pet-friendly shelter, space is limited to those living in mobile homes and evacuation areas, and advance, in-person, preregistration is required. Call the Broward County Humane Society at 954-989-3977.



  •  Drinking Water: At least one gallon per person per day for three to five days, preferably two weeks. Extra water is needed for food preparation and personal hygiene. To store drinking water, use food-grade containers. You can use clean, airtight containers such as two-liter soda jugs, but no milk containers. If you re-use disposable plastic bottles, do not keep them for more than a month.
  • Food: At least enough for three to five days, including non-perishable packaged or canned food, canned or shelf milk, cereal, etc.; and snack foods
  • A three- to five-day supply of special items for babies such as formula, food, wipes, diapers; special foods for the elderly; toiletries and extra toilet paper
  • Manual can opener/bottle opener
  • Paper goods such as plates, bowls, napkins, towels, and plastic eating utensils
  • Unscented household bleach and medicine dropper
  • Extra bedding such as blankets, pillows, sleeping bag, etc. in case you must evacuate
  • Clothing, including rain gear and sturdy shoes
  • First aid kit
  • Medicines/prescription drugs: A two-week supply
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated or hand-crank radio
  • Disposable batteries, car charger or solar charger for your cell phone
  • Hardline telephone with jack (not cordless)
  • Books and games or toys
  • Pet food, cat litter and other pet care items
  • Tool kit including cord, rope, hammer, wood nails, saw, hatchet or axe, crowbar, chain saw blades, tarp, duct tape, and heavy work gloves
  • Plastic trash bags and ties
  • Extra resealable plastic storage bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil and disposable aluminum pans
  • Extra charcoal or propane gas for outdoor cooking. Sterno can also be used. Never cook with any of these items inside your house. The smoke and fumes are deadly.
  • Fire extinguisher (ABC type)
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET, and sunscreen
  • Any special equipment or items you may need

AFTER THE STORM The county contacts HandsOn Broward for all the communities’ volunteer needs, through our Volunteer Reception Center.

Have Questions? Contact HandsOn Broward at 954-233-1300

August Volunteer Spotlight



Meet Makelly Scott, one of HandsOn Broward’s passionate and driven volunteers. Makelly began volunteering through HandsOn Broward almost 10 years ago, since then, her dedication and passion to serving the community has grown tremendously. There are several reasons Makelly began volunteering, but she says, most importantly, “The need for assistance in many area of our society is great. The non-profit organizations, whose mission is to attend to some of the societal issues that are inadequately addressed by for profits businesses and government, are often not sufficiently staffed to meet the challenges.  Whether it’s helping in an animal or homeless shelter, soup kitchens to cleaning beaches and parks for a cleaner environment, the more people who are willing to contribute their time to a cause, brings those agencies closer to accomplishing their mission, resolving issues and making a real difference.”

Makelly has really been devoted to her word, and began volunteering at The Jubilee Center of South Broward County in September of 2015. The Jubilee Center helps distribute emergency groceries, hygiene products, and clothing and offers referral services to other agencies for the homeless and needy. While volunteering at Jubilee, Makelly, formed a bond with now Executive Director of Jubilee, LeAnna Vazquez. At the time, LeAnna, also a volunteer, stated, “I was immediately impressed by her work ethic and even more so by her passion for all that we do at Jubilee.” Makelly became a known face at The Jubilee Center and once LeAnna became Executive Director, a part-time office assistant position opened up and she knew Makelly would be the perfect fit for the Jubilee Family.  Even after becoming staff with Jubilee, Makelly still spends her spare hours and days serving meals and volunteering at Jubilee through HandsOn Broward. “It is a testament to her dedication to helping those in need,” said LeAnna.

When asked whether she had any advice to new volunteers, Makelly stated, “Knowing that I’m blessed and can be a blessing to others is what motivated me to start volunteering. Volunteers should address a cause that’s dear to them, with an open heart and no judgment.” You’ve definitely exemplified that advice.  Thank you, Makelly, for all that you do to make a difference in our community.