Ann Arbor Give Camp

I am truly fortunate to be part of such an amazing developer community!  I am still reeling from the passion that I experienced at the Ann Arbor Give Camp last weekend.  DevsWorking

The Ann Arbor Give Camp was a weekend-long codefest where developers, designers, and DBAs volunteered their time to create websites and applications for non-profit organizations.  The event was held at the Washtenaw Community College, who generously donated the cost of the venue.  Verio donated free hosting until January 2010 to all of the non-profit organizations, and even sent a technical resource, the amazing Matt Lagrotte, onsite to make sure that the accounts were set up properly. 

We kicked off the event on Friday night at 6pm; each charity spoke briefly about their mission statement and their technology needs.  On Sunday at 3pm, we held the closing presentation where the developers were able to demonstrate their work. 

There were many different projects.  Multiple charities had no web presence and needed their very first website.  One charity needed a volunteer management system, and the development team led by Jeff McWherter created a generic web-based scheduling application that allows volunteers to schedule themselves to work events for a nonprofit organization (they posted it to CodePlex, Microsoft’s open source project hosting web site, so that any organization can access and use it).  TheMichigan Humane Society needed a searchable database to make it easier to find animals.  To give you an idea of the scope of the problem: in 2007, 104,690 dogs were surrendered to registered animal shelters.  Only 19,151 were returned to their owners.  This searchable database could allow pet owners to more easily find their lost pets, and assist individuals who find stray animals find the appropriate location for stray holding.  It's really amazing to see such concrete examples of technology enpowering people! 

In total, we were able to help 15 charities:Presentation_25

Michigan Chapter of the National Children's Alliance  
Michigan Humane Society
The Wellness Community
Caring Alternatives, Inc. 
Forgotten Harvest
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Angel's Place
Wonder Puzzle
Child Care Network
Golightly Academy of IT
The Information Center
Center Stage Drama
Arab American Culture Center
SDL EQ Enrichment Center
NOCIRC Michigan

The Give Camp actually happened at a very opportune time, since last week Microsoft just launched a portal for non-profit organizations at  This is a wonderful resource; it contains stories of charities using technology, discussion forums, access to free or discounted software and hardware, software support, and training and certification opportunities. 

How do I summarize the magic of the weekend?  It was absolutely inspirational to watch.  The developers and designers were so passionate about their charities.  A ripple effect occurred, where one developer would realize that he/she had a friend with particular skills to assist with some problem, call up the friend, and then the friend would come and code with us too!  There were 85 registered developers/designers that I knew of who attended, but we quickly lost track of everyone coming in and out - there were roughly 100 people total who volunteered. 

There were also people participating from two remote locations - the Columbus, OH effort was led by Carey Payette and my teammate Jeff Blankenburg, and the Knoxville, TN effort was led by Nathan Blevins

I got maybe 6 hours of sleep the entire weekend, but it was worth it!  We were crunching some numbers (cost of developer time, Verio hosting, software donations, etc.), and figured out that this event provided about a half million dollars in goods and services to these charities!!! 

Organizers Huge thanks to my fellow organizers: Patrick Steele, John Hopkins, Todd Bohlen, Bill Wagner, and Kristina Jones.  These people are wonderful to work with, and it was an incredible team effort to make the event happen.  We also had some phenomenal people step up during the event and make everything run smoothly: thank you Josh Holmes, Michael Eaton, and Greg Campeau. 

This event also wouldn't have been possible without the donations from our generous sponsors.  Financial support and services were provided by Microsoft, Verio, Washtenaw Community College, SRT Solutions, Infragistics, Telerik, TechSmith, and DevMavens by Lake Quincy Media.  Food was donated by Domino's Pizza, Arbor Brewing Company, Dunkin' Donuts, Aubree's Pizza, Busch's, and Trader Joe's.  Software was donated by Microsoft, Infragistics, and Telerik

Here are links to other writeups on the event (if you blogged about it and I haven't mentioned you, let me know and I will add you):GroupPhoto

Again, THANK YOU to everyone who participated!