Zekiah Staff Volunteers at Give Camp

On the weekend of April 1-3, 68 dedicated volunteers gathered together hoping to improve the outreach of multiple local charities through technology. The draw for all of these volunteers was the second annual Southern Maryland GiveCamp, hosted at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. GiveCamp brings technology to local charities by connecting volunteers and charities together to build websites and applications for the charities.

GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where technology professionals including designers, developers, database administrators, marketers, and web strategists donate their time to provide technical solutions for community non-profit organizations. Sponsors provide food, beverages and other goodies to keep the volunteers comfortable, some of whom stay the entire weekend at the event. This year’s event sponsors included ASP.Net Expert, Booz Allen Hamilton, Component One, DevExpress, DiscountASP.net, Elite Beatz, Infragistics, Microsoft, TDH International, Telerik and Zekiah Technologies.

The volunteers come from a wide area and from varied backgrounds. Employees from twenty-eight different companies attended, as well as students and self-employed professionals. During the weekend competition among companies is set aside, with teams organized by skill sets to ensure they can succeed and get the charities the help they need. Twelve local charities were helped this year: the Maryland Resource Parent PTSA, Discover U Children’s Museum, St. Mary’s County Child Advocacy Center, Bay K9 SAR, Optimist Club of Tall Timbers, 2nd District, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Town of Indian Head’s Rail Trail Outreach Committee, Christmas in April*St. Mary’s County, Southern Maryland Center for Independent Living, Inc. (SMCIL), Pets On Wheels, Tri-County Youth Services Bureau, and the Charles County Technology Council.

Started in 2010, Southern Maryland GiveCamp has helped 31 charities and provided a venue for volunteers to donate over $600,000 worth of free development work to local charities and organizations. GiveCamp also offers an opportunity for professional development. It is a place where developers and designers can come together to learn and serve as mentors on meaningful projects, often getting a chance to try out new technologies. In addition, a handful of this year’s volunteers were students who got an opportunity to apply the skills they’re learning in a real-world scenario. The students worked side by side with the more experienced developers, getting invaluable experience in tools and processes that work.

by: Barbara O Herbig