Adventures at Cleveland GiveCamp 2012

This past weekend, I had the fun experience of participating in Cleveland GiveCamp.  This was my 5th GiveCamp overall, 3rd in Cleveland, and 2nd as a project manager.

Why I Love Cleveland GiveCamp

Growing up, my parents raised me to put my skills to work and help others when I can.  Besides being able to put my developer skills to use, I can also take advantage of my abilities to translate tech into plain English by taking on a project manager role, which I enjoy a lot more than developing because it has me dealing with the client more.  While I like writing code, I get more satisfaction in knowing that the big picture is taken care of and that the client’s needs are getting met.  What I love most about Cleveland GiveCamp is that it’s here in Cleveland, my hometown.  It takes place both on a boat and in an airport – no other GiveCamp can claim that.  (Special thanks to LeanDog and Burke Lakefront Airport for giving us space to work.)  The last thing I truly love seeing is that the non-profits here are extremely appreciative of the work and some come back and pay it forward.

Paying It Forward

I have to admit it – I love when previous years’ non-profit representatives come back and volunteer at GiveCamp.  In 2011, we had Sherrie Zagorc from Kiddie City (my project from 2010) helping with the food.  This year, we had three different non-profits from last year come help this year – Tim Smith of Community Greenhouse Partners and Kathy & Rich Wickens of Euclid Beach Park Now and Cleveland’s Euclid Beach Carousel Society.  For non-profit reps to  come back and help out – this is a great thing!  It’s good to see that they not only appreciate the work that was done for them while at the GiveCamp but they remember what was done and come out a year later to again show their appreciation.  I love that they come back like that!

My Team – New Avenues to Independence/Buckeye Industries

I had the privilege of being the project manager for 1 project this year – Buckeye Industries, a business enterprise of New Avenues to Independence, Inc.  They needed a website and were on a Microsoft-based host.

After getting our team together on Friday, we talked about what was out there.  I had recommended that the team get WebMatrix to see what options are out there.  We originally were considering either mojoPortal or Orchard, as that’s what a couple of us on the team were familiar with.  However, since we needed to set up a storefront and wanted something easy to work with, we ended up using DotNetNuke with the NBStore module.  We also used the helferlein_Form extension for creating contact forms.  I’ll update this post with our final site once DNS propagates.  Special thanks to Joe Brinkman for getting us set up with Applied Innovations hosting.  Here’s our team:


Buckeye Industries - Cleveland GiveCamp 2012

Etsuko Dunham, Ryan Marinoff, Karen Knavel (our non-profit contact), me, Matt Lucas, and Toby MacKenzie

This team worked really hard and put together an amazing site over the weekend!  I’m proud to have worked with such a talented team!

The Recap Video

Once again, my awesome husband Kevin volunteered at GiveCamp and took pictures.  You can see most of his pictures on the Cleveland GiveCamp Facebook page.  He also created another recap video.  Check it out:

If the video doesn’t appear above, check it out on YouTube.


I had a wonderful time at GiveCamp this weekend – working with a talented team and helping such a wonderful non-profit.  While it’s an exhausting weekend, it was also quite enjoyable!  I look forward to Cleveland GiveCamp 2013!

Cleveland GiveCamp 2011 – Sadukie’s Tales, Part 3 – This One Time At GiveCamp…

This past weekend, I saw how my project managing skills would fare at Cleveland GiveCamp.  First of all, if you aren’t familiar with GiveCamp, check out for a basic explanation.  Now for a basic overview of Cleveland GiveCamp, check out this post from Bob at Simplex-IT or even this video made by my favorite IT guy (my husband!):

As I mentioned, I had to manage 2 projects this year – a new website for ASL Advocates and a revamped website for the American Indian Education Center.  In both cases, our clients wanted sites that were easy to maintain.

I have to give a shoutout to my teams – they were awesome.  I got my team assignments on Friday night, and after giving them the notecards I made based on my discussions with the non-profits, I found them to be strong, self-organizing teams.  I walked away for the first standup, and when I got back, I found out that one team had relocated and the other was fine where they were.

Team ASL Advocates included Aoirthoir an Broc, Dave Shah, and Matthew Fousek.  Team American Indian Education Center included Kevin Solorio, Dan Schultz, Marco F Sanchez Chaires, and Gabe Keith.  Both of these teams were great to look after, as I really didn’t have a lot of heavy lifting for either team.  This allowed me to help Team AHRC with their Dreamhost DNS issues and Team Cleveland Rape Crisis Center with their SQL Server issues.  I also got to meet Adam Ryder, one of the GravityWorks guys who really enjoys GiveCamps.  He came in from Lansing, and this was his third GiveCamp this year.

I am very proud of my teams and their work.  Dave and Matt went out to take pictures of A-S-L being signed.  Matt’s hands really brought some life to the ASL Advocates logo on their page.  Gabe really rocked out his designer skills on the AIEC page and even had his daughter – a mini-designer – follow him out one day.  It was great to have a designer on at least one of the teams.

So without further ado, here are my teams’ pages:

ASL Advocates:

American Indian Education Center:

I have to also give a shoutout to Kate Hawk and Pat Wolansky at Cinecraft.  They wanted to get involved with GiveCamp and help somehow.  They donated their video talents to one non-profit this year, and ASL Advocates happened to be the beneficiary of that.  They worked on a super short timeline… talked with ASL on Thursday, met at their offices Friday, shot the segment Saturday, and then video edited and had a video ready for us by early Sunday afternoon.  In the GiveCamps I’ve been to in the past, I’ve never seen a donation as awesome as this.  Kate and Pat were a pleasure to work with, and I would highly recommend doing business with them in the future.  You can see their promotional video here:

And to Sherrie Z. of Kiddie City Euclid – one of our 2010 Cleveland GiveCamp projects – thank you for coming out to help in the kitchen and help with snacks.  It’s always good to see when our non-profits come back to help.  This is truly what a community is about – offering our skills to help each other succeed and make it in the world.  Thank you!

Words can’t explain how awesome Cleveland’s community is for stepping up to help 22 non-profits over the weekend.  From organizers to sponsors to staff and volunteers, this event couldn’t have happened without everyone’s involvement.  This year’s Cleveland GiveCamp is yet another reason why Cleveland rocks!

Special thanks to the places that gave us a home this weekend – LeanDog and Burke Lakefront Airport!  Without you guys, we wouldn’t have such great “home”s during Cleveland GiveCamp.  And what other GiveCamp can make the claim of taking place both on a boat and at an airport?  None other than Cleveland!  Again… more reasons why Cleveland rocks!

This one time, at GiveCamp, I really had a lot of fun meeting new friends and seeing old friends.  I am overwhelmed by how supportive Cleveland is of its non-profit community and just who made an impact.

Cleveland GiveCamp 2011 – Sadukie’s Tales, Part 2 – Meet Sadukie, the Project Manager

Cleveland GiveCamp starts tomorrow afternoon, and I’m excited that it’s finally here.  This year, I am working as a business analyst/project manager for two different charities.  I’ve talked about ASL Advocates; however, I’ve also taken on another one, so that we can help multiple non-profits.

My Other Non-Profit

My other non-profit this year is the American Indian Education Center.  We’re going to create a website that’s easier for them to maintain.  This group’s goals include spreading the work about Native Americans, American Indians.    I hope we can get them a site that they can keep updated.

My Role as a Project Manager

I was happy that Mark and his committee figured I’d be a great fit for the project manager role.  I’ve led many development projects in my past, and I’ve enjoyed being the project manager and the one who focuses on getting a great user experience for the client.  It’s great when you have a developer who can fit this role and deal with end users directly, acting as a go-between between the non-profit contacts and the devs.  I like to encourage the devs to meet the contacts and talk with them – I’m all about open lines of communication.

Tonight, I made notecards of the various features that each group wants on their site.  Each group has special specifications – certain colors have certain meanings, certain audiences require extra attention to accessibility.  I just hope that I get teams who understand the benefits of notecards and using them as a method of tracking tasks and getting things done.  After all, our goal this weekend is to complete some decent-sized development projects for selected non-profits.

Look forward to some upcoming posts on how the event is progressing and what’s going on at Cleveland GiveCamp 2011.  I will be blogging about it here at

Got any GiveCamp tales you want to share?  Leave a comment here!

Cleveland GiveCamp 2011 – Sadukie’s Tales, Part 1

This year, I’ve been asked to use my business analyst/project management skills for a group.  I asked for this group in particular because once I saw them, I knew it’d be a non-profit that I believe in.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working with ASL Advocates – a group that promotes American Sign Language and wants to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf communities.  As I work for them and with the Cleveland GiveCamp team, I will be posting here about our experiences on their project.  But today, I wanted to share my view as to why I believe in them.

Learning ASL While Young

When I was  in Girl Scouts as a kid, I remember seeing a section in our book on American Sign Language.  It intrigued me to see that you could “talk” through these hand signs.  I made it a point to learn the ASL alphabet so that I could at least spell my way through a situation should it ever come up.

Shortly after that realization, I learned a few words from someone close to me – my little cousin Maureen.  She was three years younger than me, and she had Down’s Syndrome.  Moey taught me how to sign a few words, including my favorite… cookie!  I wouldn’t realize just how cool it was to learn from Moey until a few years later, when we lost Moey.  While she may be gone, her memories still live on.

Continuing to Learn ASL

When I was in high school, I spent a summer as a volunteer camp counselor at Augustine Rainbow Camp.  I heard about the camp through a diocesan committee that I served on while in high school.  It was great to work with the campers, other counselors, and other staff on board.  Some of us had most of our hearing, others were deaf.  However, we learned from each other that summer. I learned how to say hello and how to introduce myself.  I also learned to slow down a little when speaking and stay patient while trying to communicate with each other.  It was definitely a great learning experience.

Fingerspelling in Action

As an adult, I’ve used my fingerspelling abilities a couple times.  One year, I met a friend’s friend (who is now a friend) – and he’s deaf.  When I first met him, it was my nature to just jump into fingerspelling. I eventually got past that.

Another time, I was waiting in line at a Marc’s retail store.  I noticed two gentlemen sign with each other as one was entering and the other was leaving.  Later, while waiting to check out, the one who entered got into our line.  Our cashier had to step away for change for the cash register.  The gentleman had a look of frustration on his face, as there were longer lines and this one seemed held up without a reason.  As soon as I spelled out c-h-a-n-g-e, he nodded and the frustration disappeared.  It was an unexpected skill that made someone else’s day easier.

A Non-Profit I Believe In

These experiences are part of why I believe in getting ASL advocacy out there.  I look forward to working with ASL Advocates in getting them a solution that works for them!

This is just one of the many non-profits that we’ll be helping at Cleveland GiveCamp on July 29 – 31.  Have you signed up yet?  If you haven’t, check out their Volunteer page and then sign up!

Pittsburgh GiveCamp Needs Volunteers!

This weekend, I was supposed to be going to the Pittsburgh, PA area to help them with their first-ever GiveCamp. Unfortunately, I have to stay back due to health issues, but while I can’t be there, I want to be able to get them the help they need.  One of their organizers sent this today:

Come and be a part of something
special this weekend

A small group of software developers and web site designers will be
spending this weekend helping 7 local non-profit groups to build web sites,
system integrations, and solve other technical issues. It will be a marathon
event for sure but on Sunday afternoon we will go live with all of the projects
from Pittsburgh’s first GiveCamp.

Even with all of the support there are still some technology gaps that need to
be filled and we can really use your help in these areas.

– PHP experience

– Web Design (HTML, CSS, Photoshop)

– Experience with any CMS including Drupal, DotNetNuke, Joomla, Orchard, etc.

– WordPress themes

Even if you can’t volunteer for the entire weekend, please consider
volunteering a few hours on Friday or Saturday and add your experience to one
of our projects. In just a few hours you can help make a difference to these
groups and in turn they will spend the rest of the year making a difference to
thousands of others right here in Pittsburgh.

The event is being held at the DDI offices in Bridgeville. You can find the
location and sign-up form on our web site.


If you’re able to help them, please volunteer to help them!  The Pittsburgh community, from what I met in April, are a great group – yes, they seemed to like me even though I root for their rival NFL team!