Five years ago this summer, my father and I launched this rescue's first bona-fide Web site, substantially increasing the rescue's online visibility and attracting new adopters to our door with the site's content and a color scheme that matched the deep, rich colors so often found in guinea pig fur.
The site served us well -- very very well.
But expanding content needs, difficult finances, and the creation of our first real logo (by Aimee Belair) created a need for some Web site changes. The challenge was in finding volunteer resources who could do a lot of work in a very compressed period of time.
Enter New England GiveCamp, a 48-hour weekend of generosity that paired up 120-plus technology professionals (developers, designers, database developers and administrators, etc.) with 24 non-profits to blast through urgent needs for Web sites, databases, content management systems, and more. The talent available to all of the non-profits congregated in Cambridge, MA, on June 11-13 exceeded anything that any of us could have ever afforded -- even with the best grants.
The team assigned to the rescue was Jennifer Morris, Jeff Morris, and Abe Rosner. The direction was straightforward: give us a site that is easy to expand (and relatively easy to maintain) and a site design that matched the warmth, gentleness, and love exuded by the logo that Aimee drew for us. (I also wanted to avoid self-hosted WordPress, but had to be flexible on that point when it became clear that my first choice would not meet my most important requirements.)
Our team, like the others in Cambridge that weekend, worked long hours in dogged persistence, relieving me of so much of the agita that comes with site design and deployment, troubleshooting, and more. They gave the rescue the same professionalism, creativity, and commitment they would give their biggest paying customers. They met all of our must-have requirements and many of our nice-to-have requirements.
In such intense circumstances, there's not a lot of time for conversation that doesn't pertain to the work at hand. There was no time to get to know each other, but I did find out that Jennifer had a guinea pig as a child. In a testament to the bonds that can form between guinea pigs and humans (when the humans will open their hearts to the opportunity), Jennifer's eyes consistently teared up whenever she talked about the guinea pig who crossed the "Rainbow Bridge" some 30 years ago.
I've been working with so-called "geeks" and "nerds" for 12 years, and have always had a soft spot for them. But after this GiveCamp event, I have a whole new fondness for them and "geek" and "nerd" will never mean quite the same thing to me again. Most regarded their skills as "no big deal" but I believe the weekend left them seeing themselves with new eyes. The simplest skills to them are hugely valuable contributions for others. Life-changing contributions.
I said a few words during our before-and-after demo that Sunday night, which someone from another team emailed and asked me if I would post somewhere. I'm happy to oblige.
It's rare for people to have such a significant impact on the lives of others, and none of the techies in this event may ever know how far out their impact will ripple from this building and this weekend. What you can be sure of is that none of the non-profits here will be able to tell the story of their development and progress without mentioning your names. You are part of us now. We may never be able to repay you for the huge boost you've given us...but we can cast out prayers that when you reach a point in your individual lives where you could use guardian angels, that you are graced with the same blessings of guidance and support and expertise that you've given us here. You all are as cool as it gets.
Please take time to browse our new Web site. Be sure to check back often as we will be continuously expanding the site's content in the coming months.
Thank you to everyone who made it possible!