Making a Difference: Pinheads provides free WiFi to students while also managing to safely reopen

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – This week’s Making a Difference Monday segment features a local bowling alley in Oak Hill who has only figured out how to safely reopen but has also gone the extra mile to ensure local kids have the internet access to get them through the school year. 

When Pinheads was forced to close in March, they opened their parking lot to let kids do their online school work from outside. 

Owner Alison Ibarra says during this time when there was a lot of fear and uncertainty, they wanted to find at least one way they could help while their doors were closed.

“What we do has always been supporting our teachers and our school kids, so we as a staff sat down and brainstormed: ‘What can we do right now to help?’ One staff member in particular lives down Route 61 and said if you go down the road a mile, you don’t get internet anymore. The kids aren’t going to be able to do any of their work. So that’s kind of what got it started,” she said. 

Now, as students are learning remotely and virtually this year, they are going to keep it going and working on getting other stakeholders involved so there will be multiple spots throughout the county.

But it is not just about the free WiFi movement, they are also back open and taking reservations for bowling again.

Now disinfecting protocols are stronger using a bleach solution and even using a custom ball disinfectant from locally-owned Wild Mountain Soaps.

Pinheads has worked closely with the health department to make sure every group can be spaced out at their lane. 

“When you’re in your designated area with your group, you can actually take your mask off, but then you do have to put it back on if you’re walking around the area,” Ibarra said. ‘We’re really really thankful for the health department for giving us some standards and really helping us work through our procedures, so that we can continue to be open and to serve our community in a safe and sanitary way.” 

Pinheads is still offering takeout and has even upgraded their technology to allow people to request a server and look at a menu from their lane to minimize contact.

People can even check in from their cars and go straight to their lane.

So from providing a necessary service like free WiFi to allowing families to still come out and get active and have fun, Pinheads continues to adapt to meet the needs of the area. 

“It’s a no-brainer,” Ibarra said. “I mean, this is my community. My husband and I are raising our kids here. If the community doesn’t survive, then we don’t survive, and that’s what we’re here for. You know, if you don’t want to be a part of it, go live in a big city. Otherwise, that’s our job. We have to help each other out.” 

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.