(original post 10/24/2015 on LinkedIN)

For the third year I was part of the 2015 Southwest Ohio GiveCamp in West Chester Ohio. I’m writing this a week after the event and I still reflect on the positive experience I had this year.

GiveCamp is a weekend event where designers and developers donate their skills to non-profit organizations who need help creating or updating their website, creating a mobile application to increase their outreach or build an application to help track their inventory.

With previous years I was more distracted with how GiveCamp worked and where I could help out. I was working with complete strangers and we were all unsure of each other’s skills. This year was a better experience because I knew two of my teammates and I was very comfortable with project - building a brand new website with WordPress.

Our client - Music Makers Museum - is a non-profit organization preparing for their grand opening in four months. The museum is a 20 year passion of Rodney and Charlotte Pack. The museum explores the way America has listened and collected music. Their mission is to preserve and share voices and technologies from America’s musical past.

Our development team was small but mighty:

  • Our project leader was Tim Lewis, Software QA Analyst with Everlasting Memories, LLC
  • Jeremy Yap, Software Engineer with Hydrotech, Inc
  • John Rizzo, Senior Art Director/Consultant with TiER1 Performance Solutions
  • Myself Allen May, Web Developer at OmniSpear Web & Network Solutions, Inc.

The project began on Friday, after the opening ceremonies, forming our teams and gathering in our designated work area. Tim had already met with the client to get some preliminary information and he already setup the web host and domain name.

Our first task was to get WordPress up and running then walk through the requirements that Charlotte and Rodney had for the website. Charlotte and Rodney brought a USB hard drive full of images, audio files and content to be loaded to the website. Providing 20yrs worth of content made a huge difference on the success of this project. Because it was a brand new website we just need to fill it up with their great content.

Providing 20yrs worth of content made a huge difference on the success of this project.

Saturday was a long day of working out everything needed for the website. John did a fantastic job with all those wonderful images they provided. He built a collage of images and “sprinkled” images all over the website.

Jeremy was “heads down”, working out problems with displaying some content in the Exhibits area. He created a clever way to have child content automatically appear in a sub-menu while in the Exhibits section.

I got the WordPress install setup, ironed-out a problem with the website domain and got the audio content to display on the Exhibits section.

Tim helped Jeremy and attended the project leader “stand ups” to report our status. He help make sure we were all on track and headed for success.

On Sunday I provided a 2hr WordPress training for any of the nonprofits that wanted to know how to use WordPress to maintain their website. I found this a very rewarding time because everyone who attended had great questions and we explored several “real world” situations (like installing Google Analytics) for harnessing their WordPress website.

Sunday was the final ceremony and we delivered a beautiful website that Charlotte and Rodney could work with for many years.

I was proud to be on this team and I could really connect with Charlotte and Rodney’s vision. They were enthusiastic when they talked about their museum, you could really see Rodney getting excited as he described how he’s building out the museum.

This year I received a lot from GiveCamp. I made a new friend with John Rizzo (he is an amazing designer), I got to spend time with a former teammate (and MeetUp friend) Jeremy Yap and I got to get to know Tim Lewis and his leadership.

I also have new friends with Charlotte and Rodney and I feel like I’ve contribute (however small) to the success of their dream of sharing the way America has listened and collected music over the centuries.