Geeks come together in #GiveCamp to benefit area non-profits

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Team leader Mike Hacker and GiveCamp volunteer Mark Merritt take a moment from working on the LACASA project to pose for a photo.

Geeks of all stripes gathered at Washtenaw Community College this weekend to benefit area non-profit agencies in the annual Ann Arbor GiveCamp.

The event was a 48-hour affair that began Friday afternoon and ran straight through, around the clock, until Sunday afternoon, powered by brains, computers, caffeine and lots of snacks.

One of the agencies selected for GiveCamp was LACASA, which works with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, and runs a shelter for those no longer safe in their own homes. It’s important work, and I’m proud to be a long-time board member.

And this weekend, if only for a short time, I got to be both a board member and a geek as I visited GiveCamp. I didn’t contribute anything of substance or do any work, mind you, but instead descended upon the scene like a fairy godmother, there to stick my nose into the mix and breathe some creative geek dust.

Robin O’Grady, LACASA’s new marketing director, spent the entire weekend at GiveCamp, working alongside the volunteer developers to create the agency’s new Internet presence.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I was blown away by the work LACASA’s GiveCamp team did.

By the time I floated in on Sunday, LACASA had a wonderful new logo and an entirely new website taking shape.

Since part of my freelance business is website work, I was immensely interested in what the developers were putting together for LACASA. My heart gladdened when I learned the new site was being built on a WordPress platform, of which I am both a huge fan and a minor expert.

I got a whirlwind tour through the new website from Mike Hacker, who, in addition to being LACASA’s project leader and a GiveCamp organizer, works for Microsoft. Hacker drove me through the beautiful new LACASA website.

I was struck by several things at GiveCamp. The first, of course, was the energy that came from lots of creative, geeky minds coming together to do good work. There was a lot of that around, even though my visit came near the end of the project, and the vibe throughout was cheery, fun and productive, even though folks were sleep-deprived and running on fumes (and lots of caffeine, too, from the looks of it).

The second was the pride the developers took in their work. It’s amazing to see projects go from taking shape inside someone’s mind to fruition, and the GiveCamp folks were rightfully feeling good about what they were creating.

I was struck, too, by the amazing depth of the work the GiveCamp volunteers were producing. I am sure that hundreds of thousands of dollars of work was donated at this year’s GiveCamp, work that is both a huge gift and an amazing tool to help nonprofits grow and better serve.

There’s more work to be done on LACASA’s website, but that’s the beautiful thing about websites: they grow, change and morph to better serve their audiences.

LACASA was, indeed, lucky to be chosen for the 2011 Ann Arbor GiveCamp.

I’ve got to extend my thanks and admiration to Mike Hacker and his GiveCamp team for the marvelous work they did for LACASA and its constituents, and to Robin O’Grady, who worked so hard on LACASA’s new logo and website.

Great minds coming together can accomplish some big things!

Thanks, 2011 Ann Arbor GiveCamp!

For more information on the Ann Arbor GiveCamp, click here.

To check out LACASA’s new website (remember, it’s still under development), click here.

About Maria Stuart 212 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as a reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse. You can check out her website by clicking here.