Giving Thanks by Coding for Those in Need


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. What better way to give thanks and show appreciation for the gifts you’ve been given in life than to donate your own time and unique skills to helping others? That is exactly what our Code Wizard, Guillermo, did for GiveCamp Grand Rapids this year. We are so proud of him for getting involved with this awesome program, so we wanted to share a bit about his experience in this week’s blog.

What is GiveCamp?

GiveCamp originally started back in 2007 in Dallas, TX by a Microsoft developer named Chris Koenig as a way for the developers in the area to give back in their community. It has since spread throughout the US and made it’s way to Grand Rapids, MI. In essence, GiveCamp is an annual event where technology professionals, such as designers, developers, computer scientists, marketers and web strategists, spend one solid weekend working together to provide creative solutions for non-profit organizations.

The volunteers are split into 15 teams, each responsible for completing a project for one pre-selected non-profit organization in the community, such as Health Net of West Michigan and Kent County Parks Foundation (read full list here). The teams have an opportunity to meet several times before the main event to come up with a plan of action so they can get right to it at the start. At the end of the 3-day weekend, the teams present their finished product to their respective non-profit.

How are we involved?

This was the second year that Guillermo volunteered his time and considerable talents to the Grand Rapids chapter of GiveCamp. In order to learn more about the organization and make better connections with the people involved, this year he joined the Marketing and Volunteer Committees. Instead of coding on a specific team, he was able to work with all of the teams to make sure they had everything they needed both before and during the event. He was also responsible in part for recruiting volunteers and spreading the word about the event.

What did Guillermo learn?

I asked Guillermo what was the most significant thing he learned at GiveCamp; he smiled and said, “I learned that I have a lot to learn.” He went on to explain that the web world is constantly changing and evolving; one cutting edge technology may be completely outdated in only a few short months. He was struck by a recent college grad he spoke with who already found much of what he learned in school to be completely irrelevant. Instead of cynically dismissing the value of a college education, Guillermo said that the importance of college is in teaching students how to learn.

Aside from all the new technologies and methodologies he picked up from his fellow developers and creatives, Guillermo also learned how much work actually goes into an event like GiveCamp, and how community, strong relationships and team work play significant roles in their execution.

What can YOU do?

You don’t have to be a developer to get involved with GiveCamp! You can show support by spreading the word, or volunteering your time in a non-technical capacity (i.e., planning, set-up, running errands, tear-down, etc.). Visit for more information.