From July 19-21, 200-plus volunteers will assemble at the LeanDog boat on the shores of Lake Erie in the name of charity. An army of coders, designers, project managers, and other tech workers will convene for three days to donate their time to complete projects for local non-profits.
This is Cleveland GiveCamp, a local chapter of a larger, national organization that held its first annual event in 2010. For Steering Committee Member Caroyln Fertig, it’s the perfect way for her and other volunteers to give back using their professional skill sets.
“I manage websites during the day so what a perfect way to project manage a website for a charity,” she states. “What I loved about it is there’s different charities in the Cleveland area that are in desperate need of website help or digital help or something that creates that online presence.”
Nonprofits that Cleveland GiveCamp helped as part of the 2019 event include the Cleveland Inner-City Boxing Club, which provides boxing and yoga lessons for at-risk youth as an alternative to the lure of negative pursuits all around them. Another is Music Pebble, a charity which helps K-12 students learn how to play music by providing instruments, lessons, and financial assistance. GiveCamp looks for a “sweet-spot” of about 20 projects small enough to be completed over a weekend with a clear-cut scope.
“We would love to do a huge application build for an iPhone, but to do that on a weekend is really difficult so we try and pick non-profits who are serving a lot of people in the Cleveland area,” Fertig explains.
The process starts in April when GiveCamp starts accepting applications from local charities to help them with their websites or web-related projects. From there, volunteers are recruited from late May to early June. Project managers work with nonprofits prior to the event to help define the scope of projects and prepare prerequisites for that weekend, such as gathering images, obtaining web hosting, server access, etc.
“Overall, people are excited to work all night,” Fertig says. “They enjoy the thrill of it. It’s a bonding thing, working with a bunch of other people, networking with people in other areas.”
Some volunteers even pitch tents to make the weekend feel like a real camp. Cleveland GiveCamp provides a unique way for area professionals to give back to the community and for local nonprofits to get the specialized, high-tech help they need.
To sponsor, apply as a nonprofit, or volunteer for Cleveland GiveCamp, visit clevelandgivecamp.org and follow them on Facebook @CLEGiveCamp.
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Tesh Ekman was born in India, moved to the U.K. when he was 4, and came to Cleveland, OH, USofA in 1992 at the age of 14. An Ohioan since, he absolutely hates the question “Where Are You From?” Tesh is both a U.K. and U.S. citizen - however, India no longer wants to claim him as one. While difficult to be shunned by one’s own birth nation, it also means he’s used to rejection, which has served him well as a writer and person in general. Tesh is mostly a homebody, but if he does venture out, he can usually be found at various local establishments, drunkenly rueing his life choices and/or supporting Liverpool FC in a sudden-onset English accent.