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I have meant to have this posted earlier in the week and then it became an email to all volunteers and finally morphed back into a blog posting. So here goes…4018716013_877cf19d8b

Last weekend (Oct 16th-18th, 2009), St. Louis held it’s first annual Coders-4-Charities event at Washington Universities CAIT center in Clayton, MO.   The event had been in the planning stages for many months and we had done a significant amount of work in lining up 9 charitable, non-profit organizations which each had IT needs which we felt we could address in the scope of a long weekend.  We’d also lined up many great sponsors (Telerik, WROX, ModisIT, PEG Group, etc) who pitched in prizes and money to help us feed and reward anyone we could dig up to help build software for charities.  CAIT’s facilities were great as always and were perfect for the type of event we were sponsoring.  The St. Louis United Way was also instrumental in helping us get everything organized and even provided some great volunteers to assist during the event.

So after much (and yet to little) planning, the event kicked off on Friday evening and 70 great and dedicated volunteers arrived at CAIT.  As far as I am concerned, we had already succeeded the minute I realized how many people had actually turned out.

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Deciding to hold an event like this over a weekend has the added bonus of not requiring people miss work but then you are asking people to give up their free time with their families, friends, hobbies, etc.  While it doesn’t seem like much, you’d be amazed at how hard it often is to get people to give up that personal time (especially without any direct benefit to themselves) While we had a great set of organizations lined up to help, I have to admit that I was concerned we’d be able to get people to devote the necessary time and effort to do the work.  We’d done all we could to reach out to peers, friends, local organizations, etc.  But I was still concerned about the turnout in the days leading up to the event.

It was apparently something I shouldn’t have worried about.  Which leads me to this post…

4018716177_cde5f21abeI wanted to put this out there to say THANK YOU to all the volunteers who came out to our event and donated their time and talents to help others.  It was a fascinating thing to watch strangers work together through adversity, stress, technical difficulties, and the utter confusion that oftentimes (ie. ALWAYS) comes with rapid software development.  An extra special thanks goes to the team leads and those of you who stepped up and went above and beyond to share your knowledge with all teams (Scott “Kingpin/N3bu1a” Allender?)

Many of you I knew prior to this event and are good friends, co-workers, students of mine, peers, or people I just knew through the community.  I had almost begged a few of you to come (which probably wasn’t necessary) and you stepped up to help out in some very key ways.  During our kick-off on Friday, I looked out at a room split between faces I’d recognized and many more I didn’t.  By Sunday night, when we stopped to show off our work and recognize our teams, I found myself in a room full of friends where I recognized everyone (even if I didn’t get to interact with everyone as much as I would have liked).

4018716455_5e3400e27f I’d be lying if I claimed that everything went perfectly…  We had our hurdles and some things definitely didn’t go as smoothly as we’d like.  Some projects didn’t get as far as the teams had hoped, others were more stressful than we’d hoped, and at one point we even ran out of fried chicken (which is always a bad thing).  But, through it all, 70 strangers pulled together, worked long hours, and worked as one big team to help make our community better by helping these organizations do better at what they do through technology.

Another great outcome of this event was seeing the growth in all volunteers in terms of learning new technologies or gaining new skills by being involved in roles they had not traditionally played.   Many volunteers were in between jobs and it is my sincere hope that this type of event assisted them with skills and relationships that ultimately help then land their next position.

4018716291_f5244e5f64 In the end, we learned a lot and have a significant list of ideas on how to plan things better for next year.  We think we can be more prepared, more efficient, and provide even more value to the organizations we choose to help.  The biggest thing we learned is how great our local development community is and, hopefully, all the volunteers involved with this years Coders-4-Charities will remain active with the various organizations we helped and will rise to the challenge next year when we put out the call.

If you are interested, I’d like to point out a few great links related to our event:

- Pictures (which probably include most of you): Click here.

- Muljadi Budiman’s great epilog: Click here.

- Brian Blanchard’s blog posting on CIO Online: Click here.

- Clint Edmonson’s post event update: Click here.

- Chris Deweese’s post: Click here.

- Scott Allender’s post: Click here.

- A great article in the St. Charles Suburban Journal: Click here.

Finally, I’d like to encourage each of you (organizers, volunteers, or non-profit employees) to remain in touch.  Feel free to email me if you feel I can help with anything or answer any questions you have.  You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kvgros or you can just keep an eye on this blog.   Each of you went out of your way to help the C4C event when asked and I want to make sure I do the same for you if asked.  I’d also love to hear what you thought, what you learned, and what you would recommend for next year.

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from all of you,

KevinThumb

 

Kevin Grossnicklaus

ArchitectNow

 

 

ps.  For those of you interested, I am giving a couple of talks over the next month which you might find beneficial.  I’m not sure if they have any seats remaining, but it can’t hurt to try if they might have value for what you do:

November 3rdVisual Studio Tips, Tricks, and Toys (including a demo of VS.NET 2010 Beta 2) at CAIT

November 9th: Windows 7 Launch “The *NEW* Efficiency at the Creve Coeur AMC Theaters (demonstrating all the great new Windows 7 features including Multi-touch…if you are able to attend you will receive a free copy of Windows 7)

November 30th: St. Louis .NET Users Group (discussing this years Professional Development Conference)

Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009 7:07 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Coders-4-Charities: Giving to our Community

# re: Coders-4-Charities: Giving to our Community
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Great event Kevin! Can't wait for the next one.

Clint
Left by Clint Edmonson on Oct 24, 2009 9:03 AM

# re: Coders-4-Charities: Giving to our Community
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# re: Coders-4-Charities: Giving to our Community
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