Taking care of the community should be woven into the DNA of every company

Two of my criteria for contributing time, talent, and treasure, both personally and professionally, to a nonprofit and a mission revolve around whether the effort will give voice and whether the contribution will move the needle.

GiveCamp is one such effort that does just that. In a web- and data-centric world, websites and online presence can indeed provide a voice and allow the mission to drive its message to those who need it most. “Giving back is paramount to being a conscientious member of the local and global business community. When we nurture, support, and give back, not only does it give one a sense of well-being, it also helps to bolster our community and economy” Nicole Ponstingle, the director of marketing and client services at BlueBridge Networks, says.

Here at BlueBridge, volunteerism is a passion; it’s woven into who we are as people and also as a company. Ron Eckart, a BBN engineer, is a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Petar Bojovic, director of operations, sits on the board of Tinker’s Creek Watershed Partners, whose mission is to protect and restore the water quality of Tinker’s Creek watershed, the largest tributary to the Cuyahoga River. I volunteer with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and United Way and also sit on many boards, including the Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board and several advisory boards.

Ponstingle goes on to say, “I volunteer my time and marketing skill sets for Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue, where I remove dogs from the shelter and transport them to foster or forever homes across Ohio. I lend a hand with their marketing campaigns too. I also volunteer at Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, where I provide marketing, fundraising and awareness support. Both of these rescues work to provide stable, loving homes and sanctuary for both farm animals and dogs who have been abused and/or severely neglected. Giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves is extremely important to me.”


One area that BlueBridge really rallies behind is workforce development. “Kevin and I are both board members of the RITE Board, a regional collaboration of senior IT executives, educational leaders, and industry organizations committed to a shared vision in growing IT in Northeast Ohio,” Ponstingle says. “We want to see our young community members find a sustainable career, and IT is definitely growing exponentially in Northeast Ohio. I am also the High School Action Committee co-chair, so I also help to plan our annual Get IT Here Summit, a day-long event that brings together high school students, professionals, and educators to help inform students of available career options in IT and, as a result, build tomorrow’s IT workforce for our region. RITE and its many initiatives, including the Summit, coding camps, and company site visits, help give students a well-rounded look at what a given career in IT looks like. We show them what the real day-to-day looks like, which helps them make a more informed decision about a career choice.”

Many of my favorite nonprofits have been served by GiveCamp, including Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute (@EdwinsCLE), Engage! Cleveland (@EngageCleveland), Lake Erie Ink: a writing space for youth (@LakeErieInk), Malachi HouseReaching Heights (@ReachingHtsOH), and The Arc of Greater Cleveland.

A few of my dear friends, such as Susie Sharp and Stuart Smith, band together each year and give it their all for this camp. Local technology leaders, such as Jon Stahl of LeanDog (@LeanDog), and BlueBridge Networks (@BlueBridgeLLC) customers, such as Onbase by Hyland (@OnBase) and Rosetta, bring the time, talent (human resources such as developers designers, databases experts and project managers) and treasure. This corporate social responsibility example is what pulled us in. We are currently a Silver Sponsor to this worthy cause.

GiveCamp is a weekend-long event in which software developers, designers, database administrators, project managers, and creative professionals donate their time to create software and web-based applications for nonprofit organizations. The event takes place at the LeanDog Boat (former Hornblowers) and Burke Lakefront Airport on the shores of Lake Erie.

Community-1The event is entirely volunteer-driven and some of the volunteers take the “camp” part of GiveCamp literally, pitching tents and staying all weekend. Great meals are provided, and there are many opportunities to network with professionals from around the region. Overall, it’s a great opportunity for people to work together, develop new friendships, and do something important for the community.

There are a variety of projects completed during GiveCamp weekend. The only limitation is that the project should be scoped to be able to be completed in a weekend. All source code must be turned over to the nonprofits at the end of the weekend (developers cannot ask for payment) and the nonprofits are responsible for maintaining the code moving forward.

The call for nonprofits ends June 3.

Do you have a tech project that you think we might be able to help tackle over a short period of time? Our volunteers get together from Friday evening until early Sunday afternoon, developing a technical solution to help you out. Whether it’s a mobile app or a desktop app or a web application, we can help you out with your needs. We select 15 to 20 nonprofits that will benefit from our help. To learn more about Cleveland GiveCamp and to apply, check out the Cleveland GiveCamp Nonprofits section.

Community-2The call for volunteers @CleGiveCamp opens June 3. We are looking for volunteers of all walks of life and various expertise. Bring out your developers, designers, project managers, copywriters, and all others involved in making a project happen. If you aren’t sure if your skills can be used, reach out to us on Twitter at @CleGiveCamp and we’ll let you know how we can put you to work. To learn more about Cleveland GiveCamp and volunteer, check out the Cleveland GiveCamp Volunteers section. GiveCamp is the largest tech volunteer design event in the nation of its kind — once again demonstrating Cleveland’s long-held philosophy of community philanthropy and standing in corporate social responsibility leadership.

One volunteer is a friend of mine and of many in the tech community. Stuart Smith’s tweeter site is a go-to spot to learn about the local tech scene and many other topics in the #CLE. He works for Notre Dame College as website director and serves on the steering committee of GiveCamp. He spoke with me with enthusiasm about a project the team worked on for Malachi House. He noted that the time spent at the camp allows him to work in a group, as most of his work day to day is solo. He commented that, as in most giving efforts, when one gives they receive; in his case the joy of working with a team and serving and empowering others in a very particular way gives his personal and professional life deeper meaning.

Let’s continue to show the world what Cleveland is all about! Get involved with Cleveland GiveCamp today!

Kevin Goodman is the managing director, partner with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data-center and cloud computing business. He can be reached at (216) 621-2583, [email protected], kevinjgoodman.com, and bluebridgenetworks.com.