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‘Habitat For Humanity for geeks’: IT pros aid non-profits

Organizers of the annual Southwest Ohio Give Camp present their finished projects volunteer tech professionals completed to help area non-profits. The weekend-long seminar was held at Miami University’s Voice of America campus.
Organizers of the annual Southwest Ohio Give Camp present their finished projects volunteer tech professionals completed to help area non-profits. The weekend-long seminar was held at Miami University’s Voice of America campus.

It was computer geeks to the rescue this weekend for more than a dozen area non-profits that lack computer and IT expertise in their operations.

These self-proclaimed “IT geeks” volunteered to work over the weekend – some of them until early morning hours – with non-profit groups on helping them solve their IT problems, create and improve websites and create operational software.

Conducted by "Southwest Ohio Give Camp," the annual weekend program at the Voice of America campus of Miami University in West Chester Twp. has grown each year since it started in 2010.

“It was amazing,” said Glenda Donnelly, principal of Saints Peter & Paul Academy, a small Catholic school in Reading. “They know what they are doing and they are able to ask questions because we didn’t even know what questions to ask.”

The IT volunteers revamped the school’s website, saving the school thousands of dollars.

The 13 non-profit groups that participated this year – starting Friday evening and working through Sunday afternoon - came from a region stretching from Greater Cincinnati to north of Dayton.

Matt Brewer, co-organizer of Southwest Ohio Give Camp, said the idea of hooking up volunteer IT professionals with needy charitable groups and schools is unique to this region.

“I compare it to Habitat For Humanity (organization that builds homes for the needy) for geeks,” he said. “You give of your talent. This is a chance for the geeks to come in and do something they really know how to do to contribute to a non-profit.”.

This year, 96 IT professionals participated – 60 volunteered the first year – and the total estimated dollar value of the donated time (at an average of $100 per hour) was $233,525.

Rod Nimtz, spokesman for the Voice of America campus, said the annual volunteer effort is encouraging to see in action.

“I am always impressed by the knowledge and experience brought to the table to help the non-profits,” Nimtz said. “I’m not sure that they would find this level of creativity and support anywhere else within their budgets. Give Camp gives them the tools they need to communicate, organize, track, and do a myriad other things - and allows them to put their funds squarely behind their mission to serve others.”