Thanks to organizations such as Code for America, the techie community is increasingly starting to think about ways to leverage their engineering skills in volunteer public service projects. I seriously applaud these efforts! However, I think that it’s a mistake to completely concentrate our efforts on municipalities and promoting open governance. There are countless other non-for-profits and religious organizations that can benefit from volunteer technical support. I recently have had the chance to help the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Peace and Justice with their Organizing Catholics for Justice Website. The mission of the office is to politically rally the Catholic laity to support numerous social justice efforts, including HIV/AIDS, Environmental Justice, Education, Health Care Reform, Housing and Food Insecurity, Immigration Reform, Labor Rights, Poverty, Racial Justice, and Religious Freedom. Towards this end, their new website allows Catholics to register their Social Justice interests and search a marketplace for volunteer activities throughout Chicago.
I think that this is a fantastic example of how web technologies can help empower others to connect to social causes that they care about. If you have an impulse to volunteer, why not consider using your techie skills to help a non-for-profit or religious organization?