After retirement, most people want to spend their days lounging by the pool, away from as many kids as possible. David Feldmar however, a volunteer at Booker high school, is quite different.
What has placed this drive in Feldmar’s heart to do such magnificent work for the technologically disadvantaged children within the state of Florida? His experiences with a lifetime in technology has driven him to create a world in which people have the tools that they need to build themselves up and achieve greatness.
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Who is David Feldmar?
Feldmar grew up as a 1rst generation child with a father who immigrated from Hungary at a young age. His father came to the United States with Feldmar’s aunt and grandmother Rezi. Thankfully, they had other relatives who lived in New York, so instead of going to Ellis Island, they instead went to Hoboken New Jersey where they were greeted by family and a fresh start.
Growing up, although David and his brother spoke no Hungarian, his parents spoke fluent Hungarian and kept culture alive in the household. As a child, David was fortunate enough to go to a good school and have positive experiences but still, he grasped that everyone did not have those opportunities.
Feldmar served two years in the Army National Guard and then four years in the United States Navy before starting his path to technology.
In July of 2000, Feldmar went to his parent’s home country to visit his father’s birthplace. We asked him more about what that experience was like for him:
“The town where my father was born was called Vagfarkasd. Before the First World War, all of Hungary was located on both side of the Danube River, after the First World War the country was divided by the Danube River. The upper portion of the Danube was given to Slovakia, and the town of Vagfarkasd became Vlčany.
Most of the Feldmar’s came from this area, and my grandfather was the Mayor, Butcher and Tailor of the community. I had an uncle called Karoly who was older than my father and had to fight in the 1st World War, with the Germans and died in that war.
When I visited my father’s birthplace, it still looked like the early 1900’s unpaved streets and families were still riding bicycles.
We had an interpreter on our visit to Vagfarkasd and while there, we met a man of 90+ years who remembered my grandfather and father growing up. Most of all the birth records for all of the religions were kept by the Catholic Church and while we were there the priest who lived in Vagfarkasd was away at another city doing a mass.”
These experiences have shaped David’s life outside of his work, which in turn have pushed him to aid those who don’t have access to the same technology that he has worked with in the tech industry
How Does He Do It?
Feldmar works on refurbishing Microsoft computers every day to gift to students.
He cleans and inspects each laptop to test the hardware components.
From there, he updates each laptop and checks the Dell BIOS system configurations.
Following that he installs Windows 10 and organizes the software of the laptop.
After David restores the laptops, he teaches the students how to handle their laptop. He shows them how virus protection works, as well as other aspects such as demonstrating how to stop your computer from slowing down.
Students are also provided with external hard drives to keep their files on and prevent the computer from wear and tear.
Who is Directly Impacted?
The children are directly impacted of course!
Although David is primarily working with Booker high school, he has branched out further with his services.
Q & A with David Feldmar
We wanted to know more about who David Feldmar is a person and what his life has been like thus far, so we sat him down and asked him a few questions.
Q: What inspired you to do what you do?
A: I have worked technology all my life starting before the first IBM computer came out. My first job was in 1954 with Standard Oil of New Jersey, and I had a mentor who taught me about technology. That is the reason I started this program for the high school I volunteer in, to see more students achieve academic success with the tools I can give them.
Q: What did you do in the years between retiring and volunteering at the school?
A: I spent 5 years on the Florida Highway patrol as an auxiliary trooper. I helped them with all the laptop and computer technology within the patrol cars and the patrol station I served in.
Q: Do you ever think about the [direct] impact you have on students?
A: Yes, I keep in touch with students who have gone on to college over the past 9 years, some have graduated from Ringling School of Art, others have gone into Hotel management, another will become a veterinarian, another went on to Julliard.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your work?
A: Keeping up with technology, every day something new happens in my field. I was fortunate to work for Hitachi, where I got to see and work on all the new technologies from 1984 until I retired in 2002.
Q: What makes your keep going, even with all of the out of pocket expenses?
A: Just seeing young people making progress with a piece of equipment I refurbished being able to do their daily learning and making good grades, then the expense is worth it.
Q: What do you do when you’re not doing amazing work like this?
A: I met my new and wonderful wife when I was 73 and we have been married now 9 years. She was a nurse for 50 years and a teacher for 26 years. We love to go to Disney in Orlando to relax and before the virus love to eat out. Our routine today is, she … [quilts] until dinner, I work on computers until dinner and then after dinner we relax and wat some TV. I also watch homes here for people who are not living full time in Florida.
Q: If you had one wish, what would it be?
A: Stay healthy. After surviving a major heart attack last year and being brought back to life, it’s a gift. The reason I survived, I think, was I was 15 laptops away from gifting 1,000 laptops over 9 years and the good lord gave me another chance. On December 13, 2019, I gifted the 1,000 laptop to a 9th grade black honor student who wanted to be either a Pro Football player or a mechanical Engineer.
Q: Would you change anything that you’ve done thus far? Any strategies you would implement?
A: I never wanted to sit around and do the same thing day after day, that’s why I choose technology, Just as I saw the radio and television become a reality, I was part of the evolution of the beginning of the computer era and grew up with it and all its advancements. Therefore, I intend to continue to learn and work with the new achievements of technology as long as I can stay healthy and alive.
If you are interested in donating your laptop to this great cause in order to serve disadvantaged children, you can contact David Feldmar at [email protected] and send your computer over as soon as possible!