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Looking for volunteer opportunities? Join Think Brownstone at Broad Street Ministry

After focusing its efforts on an international nonprofit, design agency Think Brownstone is now giving time and money to a local group. Here's executive vice president Russ Starke on how you can join in.

Think Browstone volunteering at Broad Street Ministry. (Courtesy photo)

At Think Brownstone, the agency where I’m executive vice president, we believe that design and technology fundamentally exist to improve life for everyone.
One of the founding principles of our company was to use our talents, resources and relationships to give back and “be of service.” We’ve supported many causes incrementally over the years, but started really digging in with specific organizations in 2013 with our ongoing financial support of the Neema Project — a nonprofit organization that provides skills training, counseling and housing for vulnerable young women in Kitale, Kenya.
While that felt great, we quickly decided that we wanted to do something of at least equal significance in our own backyard. That resulted in our setting aside two volunteer days per year for each employee to pursue service opportunities and aligning with church and service provider Broad Street Ministry to not only provide financial support and volunteer there on a monthly basis, but also to join their Hospitality & Corporate Council to be part of envisioning the future and recruiting others to help make it happen.
I’ve lived and worked in Philadelphia for going on 20 years, and I’ve met a lot of amazing and talented people that love this city and want to make it better. However, as rogue agents, we know it often doesn’t take long before daily demands derail our best intentions; at best, we make small dents as the scope shrinks, and at worst, things fizzle out completely. But what if we had an opportunity to join forces with others in order to make a difference?
I know of two such opportunities for us to test this concept. I’ve provided a lot more detail and background in this blog post and we also discussed these issues during our Philly Tech Week 2016 presented by Comcast event, but put simply — what if the Philly tech community could band together to have an observable, direct impact on the following topics:

Hunger, poverty and homelessness

Here’s how: Select a representative from your company to join us on the Hospitality & Corporate Council at Broad Street Hospitality Collaborative — specifically, the technology group (so far, Think Brownstone and Armor are committed). BSM provides “radical hospitality” to those who are on the margins of society—people experiencing homelessness and social instability. This means providing over 1,200 meals a week in addition to social services like mail and legal service, health and personal care, benefits counseling, mending, therapeutic arts and a clothing closet.
We meet once a quarter, and will be breaking up into smaller teams to tackle specific tasks and generate ideas — we’re talking how to get technology more integrated into the workflow of folks in need, what kind of scalability of the mission could be possible through the use of technology, identifying and tackling projects, prototyping ideas and lots more.
Commit your company to giving $2,500 a year (tax-deductible), which has direct, observable impact. Reach out to Jessica Paschke to arrange a tour, see the awesome work they’re doing on a daily basis and sign up.

Elimination of litter

Here’s how: Let’s get Not in Philly, a Code for Philly anti-litter app that Think Brownstone has collaborated on, fully operational, and start talking about what the organization looks like beyond the web app — we’re thinking pub crawl/trash pick-up combo events and collection hardware with geolocation and tracking abilities. Go to their GitHub page to connect, attend a Code for Philly hack night or you can email them.


We know how to coordinate events. We know how to throw parties. We can turn that same energy and passion toward making our city better in observable, concrete ways.
Are you in?

Companies: Think Company

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