Mike, social media team, meeting and greeting volunteers.
Congratulations to all student volunteers and welcome to CreateAthon! Competition was tough this year and there were no easy decisions with a pool of so many qualified students. We really look forward to seeing the work that’s going to come out of so many ridiculously talented individuals crammed into a building for 24 hours with Red Bull, burritos and pizza next week. It’s going to be great.
To get a little taste of what CreateAthon is going to be like, and to give volunteers and team leaders a chance to connect, we held a Meet and Greet for volunteers, team leaders and the gO! Team at Home Team Grill. The turnout was great, and the atmosphere was bursting with much meeting, much greeting and creative energy.
It was an afternoon full of fajitas, hand shaking and great conversation.
To everyone involved this year, we can’t wait to embark on this year’s CreateAthon, and we’ll see you next week!
For everyone else who won’t be with us on event day (Thursday, March 13 to Friday, Mach 14), I’ll be posting links to ways you can be right there with us on social media shortly. We have videos and Vines in the works, and we’re preparing our thumbs for live tweeting the night away, just for you.
Any questions on the event, what we do and how to get involved next year? You can ask us anything here.
CreateAthon onCampus at VCU alone dedicates $20,000 worth of work to nonprofits every year. And every year, it’s totally worth it. We obviously think nonprofits are an extremely worthy cause. But what are nonprofits, exactly, and why are they so important?
Though charitable organizations have been around for thousands of years, according to The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, they’ve only existed as a unified and coherent “sector” since the 1970’s.
Nonprofit means that the organization exists for educational or charitable reasons, and from which its shareholders or trustees do not benefit financially.
Nonprofits exist to provide the much needed services the government cannot. It’s hard to imagine America without organizations such as The Red Cross, YWCA, The Humane Society and Goodwill. They provide as they better humanity and the quality of life for many in our society and in our world.
These established and successful organizations are all too easy to take for granted.
It often takes complete dedication to have a career in nonprofits. It takes talent, guts and hard work to make it in the nonprofit world. For profit organizations often offer better job security and income. Many nonprofits have limited funding for staff incomes, oftentimes people who work at a nonprofit play roles in the company outside of their official titles and job requirements. Often understaffed, everyone pitches in at a nonprofit to keep it going. This takes people with multiple talents, and a true passion for what they are doing.
Big names nonprofits all had to start somewhere, and there are many needs in communities, local and around the world, that need to be met. This is what our local nonprofits are fighting for. Armed with dedication and an earnest desire to do good, they push through the obstacles to make an impact, sometimes against all odds.
They’re a force to be reckoned with. According to an article from May 2012 on timesrecordnews.com, there are nearly 15 million nonprofit companies in the United States today. It is the third-largest U.S. workforce after retail trade and manufacturing with 10.7 million workers in 2010, and the IRS reported that the number of tax-exempt organizations increased by almost 42 percent from 1991 to 2011, in part due to the relative ease in which nonprofits can be created. However, this ease is by no means “easy”.
CreateAthon exists to support and cheer on those who are doing so much good, and to do our part in serving our community’s needs. With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see that 24 hours is the least we can give the community each year.
Thankfully, there are volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits all year long. You can always contact us to find out more about these opportunities, contact the organizations we’ve worked with with listed on our website, or go tohandsonrva.org to find even more opportunities.
CreateAthon is coming up next week and we couldn’t be more excited to do our part this year.
Just click on the picture and follow away!
Here’s a fun fact of the day; doing CreateAthon looks great on your resume! And we just posted a little something on our Vine to let you guys know. Watch it. Seriously. It’s very important.
If you forgot to apply to be a volunteer this year, there’s always next year! But if you want the rare, exclusive chance to experience the insanity of CreateAthon with us without actually being there, we’ll be Vineing straight from the event to you. We’ll also be posting some little somethings from these last legs of the journey there.
It’s hard to believe we’re less than a month away from the event and, wherever you are, we hope you’ll be there with us.
I’ve said for a while that CreateAthon is one of those one of a kind experiences that’s hard to describe, and hard to understand if you’re unfamiliar with the experience. But if you really want to know what it’s like, read on.
Jack Meisinger, a VCU almun who volunteered in 2010, shared his CreateAthon volunteer story with me.
He hadn’t expected to get involved in CreateAthon, or anything like it.
“My friend was a team leader that year, and dragged me in last minute,” he said. “I’d heard it talked about, but I was sorta anti extra programs. I felt that they limited me. I never did them in high school. I was never very participatory.”
But CreateAthon changed his mind.
“I’m glad I did it. It was awesome,” Jack said. “I remember lots of caffeine, and that the brain storming was in a much shorter time span than I’ve previously experienced. You move through a lot topics really quickly.”
“The team was diverse; Art majors, Mass Comm majors, people in between,” he continued. “You make friends really fast because you’re brainstorming a ton with all these people from different backgrounds. We went out to eat, and there was a cool team atmosphere. You were making friends at the same time, and enjoying hanging out.”
Though he had a fun time, as the time went on, it seemed like they would never find something they could present to their client and be proud of.
“We really didn’t have anything at 11 at night. It was crunch time, and we had no idea where we were going.”
Everyone who has done CreateAthon, however, says it all works out in the end, including the people who have been to every CreateAthon event here and have seen it all. So sure enough, Jack’s story remained hopeful.
“We came up with something we loved. We had a nonprofit that helped with the Special Olympics so we made a cape so the kids who competed would have a shirt with a cape printed on the back to empower them.”
After that, everything was perfect.
Just kidding. This is CreateAthon we’re talking about, after all. Teams are given 24 hours, and it doesn’t come without obstacles.
“Someone tripped over a wire and knocked out all of our computers,” he said, and laughed. “We lost all our data and had to redo everything. But when the client got there in the morning, it was ready to go. We had it.”
“They were very pleased,” he said, smiling at this point. “It was awesome. They were very appreciative. We had to crank out that much work for free for someone who appreciated something we loved as well.”
After Jack graduated, he continued the legacy.
“I worked in graphic design for a year,” he said. “I worked for nonprofits.”
There are new stories to be written and legacies to made at CreateAthon 2014. We can’t wait to announce our volunteers and do some great work for nonprofits next month. Good luck to all who applied this year!
It’s hard to believe that CreateAthon is just a month away. With volunteer and mentor applications due so soon, there are some seriously talented and qualified VCU students who have never experienced CreateAthon before. It’s a one of a kind event, and it’s hard to imagine what it’s like if you haven’t done it.
But never fear! If you are among the group of students with burning questions such as “if CreateAthon is 24 hours long, when can I sleep?” you’re in luck; consider this your CreateAthon guide. Needless to say, it explains a lot.
Have any more questions? You can ask us anything.
Volunteer applications are due February 14 and can be found here.
We hope to see you there!
CreateAthon at Night
Sid Raskind achieved Richmond fame a couple of years ago for a YouTube series he produced called “I Am A ___ Pranks” under the name ‘sidneyraz’. In these videos, he would wake up and decide to be something new, and do a wacky impersonation of that thing in public places. He has been a human cat, human bookworm, human jellyfish and, on Valentine’s Day, Cupid, shooting arrows at people in a tight red jumpsuit.
Although places he’s pranked have included New York City and LAX, most of his videos take place on VCU’s campus. Students laughed and posted them on Facebook walls, but they soon began to spread like wildfire beyond Richmond, to the Internet world.
I think it was because there was something more to those videos than being ridiculous and forgotten about; Sid’s videos were something like a social experiment as he brought insanity to monotony to see how people would react. They shined a light on the normalcy and routine of our day-to-day lives, and the molds we are all afraid to break.
In 2012, Sid, a VCU alum, participated in CreateAthon at VCU, and made CreateAthon related videos throughout the event for his series. In one video, he played the part of a ‘forgotten idea’, and cried in a corner as pieces of paper were thrown at him, capturing the pains and hilarity of the creative process. In the video linked above, he decided to be a ‘wacky inflatable arm flailing tubeman’ that are seen outside car dealerships. And why?
But with this video, comes a catch. Because it’s not so much a prank as it is an expression of what everyone around him is feeling.
CreateAthon at night isn’t just any public place of un-expecting normal people going about their day-to-day lives. CreateAthon at night is full of creative minds like Sidney’s hard at work, holding on to Red Bull for dear life, semi-delirious and not really questioning what he’s doing. They weren’t against Sidney; they were with him.
This video is definitely some of Sidney’s best work, and if you want to see someone running on zero to no sleep play the part of a very convincing wacky inflatable arm flailing tubeman, watch it. The fact that he’s been working since 8 am and it’s some random hour of the night makes it that much more impressive. He gives Sweet Dee from Always Sunny a run for her money.
For anyone really wondering what CreateAthon looks like in action, in the darkest hours of the night when the hard work really happens and sleep is a distant memory, Sidney managed to capture that pretty well.
It takes place in that crucial time, when everyone is tired and it’s hard to believe the work will ever get done, but people are still smiling. They have a sense of humor. They’re delirious, but they’re in it together.
It always works out in the end.
Have questions? You can ask us anything.
We rang in the New Year and returned to our jobs and classes after celebrating the season. Many of us may be feeling tired as we return to the daily grind.
But for CreateAthon, the season has just begun.
CreateAthon at VCU 2014 is only 7 weeks away, and as the date draws closer, we are excited to announce this year’s clients!
Fan Free Clinic – FFC serves those in Richmond with limited access to care, providing medical treatment, health education and outreach, support services and advocacy for the least served.
First Things First – First Things First of Greater Richmond aims to strengthen families through education, collaboration and mobilization.
MathScience Innovation Center – MathScience Innovation Center’s mission statement is “to be the innovator, incubator and advocate of 21st Century math and science programs for the Capital region’s K-12 educators and students.”
Nonprofit Learning Point –Nonprofit Learning Point provides affordable, high quality professional and leadership development for nonprofits in greater Richmond.
Resources for Independent Living – Resources for Independent Living empowers those in the community with severe disabilities to live independently with options and opportunities.
Riverside School – Riverside School provides remediation of language skills for students with dyslexia and similar language-based learning differences in grades k-8, helping students reach their fullest potential in the mainstream education system.
Sailing 4 All – Sailing 4 All offers the experience to learn about boating, sailing and other marine-related activities to people with disabilities, youth at risk and other special needs individuals, to enhance their quality of life.
The Church Hill Association – The Church Hill Association promotes a sense of unity and common endeavor among residents in the communities they serve to develop a stable, desirable urban neighborhood.
We’re all preparing here to make this year’s CreateAthon amazing. Our team leaders are already hard at work so they can provide the very best for these deserving local nonprofits who do some serious good for the community.
If you’re interested in helping out, volunteer applications are due on February 14th and Mentor applications are due on February 28th!
Never done CreateAthon before? This video may give you an idea of how serious, or not so serious, we get in the 24 hours we spend working for a great cause.
Frenzy. Creative. Growing. Momentous. Extraordinary. These are the five words CreateAthon onCampus team leader alum Alana Robinson uses to describe her CreateAthon experience.
Team leaders enroll in a class each spring semester dedicated entirely to preparing for CreateAthon. Their team is assigned a client, who they work with directly in the months leading up to the event. Alana worked with Unique Perception Services last year. And in just 24 hours, her team created a brand identity, including a logo, business card, letterhead, shirt design and website. On top of that, they provided the client with a strategy guide and social media plan.
“It was very challenging in the best way,” she said. “Being creative on cue, and powering through ideas in a short but long period of time was something.”
So what made it all worth it?
“I loved being surrounded by creative folks all excited about the same cause I was,” she said. “Even though we were all in smaller teams, having a big team to chat with, bounce ideas off of, or even just de-stress with was one of the most entertaining pieces of the event.”
The collaboration with other creative and talented students in high doses was special to her, and is a very special part of CreateAthon. But the most rewarding part of her experience was the big reveal when, after 24 hours of hard work, she was able to present the results to the client.
“When we showed our client everything, she broke out into tears. That is one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career,” Alana said. “Seeing everything we had worked for and created visually come to life was an amazing accomplishment, and knowing we got it right was the icing on the cake.”
When it was all said and done, she was free from the frenzy of blood, sweat, tears and caffeine. But when asked if she would do it all again?
You can check out Alana’s blog at aortathence.tumblr.com
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in October at Tricycle Gardens, a nonprofit that grows food locally and makes it available to the community. They were moving their entire site to a new location, which required hard working volunteers to shovel dirt, lift buckets and sand bags and carefully handle plants in the transition to their new home.
I volunteered that day, and found myself surrounded by enthusiastic volunteers from the Tumblr office wearing “Corporate Hands On Day” shirts.
“We were looking to volunteer as a group,” said Lianna Woods from Tumblr, smiling with a shovel in hand.
The project coordinator, Jamie Segreves, matched people with the right project for their organization.
It was inspiring to see a corporate office taking time off from work to come together to do something hands on for the community.
“It was hard to stop routine, as Tumblr is always busy and a smooth running machine. But taking a few hours away to work differently was nice. When you go back to your normal job, it’s new again,” said Lianna.
This outlook is reminiscent of CreateAthon’s belief that if there’s a will, there’s a way for an office or group of students to do something productive for the community with their skills. It’s thrilling, and revitalizes the office spirit as well as the community.
“Somewhat selfishly, I like getting to hang out to do something productive,” Lianna said. “Everyone was in a good mood. It was a great bonding experience for us. We were helping people and improving the city.”
On volunteering with a group of people rather than alone, she said, “You feel like a big impact is going to happen, and it’s very visible. It was really hands on, and there was a sense of community in that.”
She said it was nice seeing more of the city. She drove by Tricycle Gardens all the time previous to volunteering with them. “We create community on Tumblr. That’s what’s most important,” she said. “Users creatively share and find people who support them and are similar.
“The more you learn about the city, the more you want to help,” she added. “There are small nonprofits you’d never hear about, without big advertising budgets.”
What Tumblr found the time in their schedules to do was inspiring to those of us at CreateAthon. CreateAthon recognizes nonprofits and assists them where their advertising budgets restrain them from getting out here and making a name for themselves. It was awesome to see small nonprofits recognized by bigger corporations. As we help these nonprofits grab attention in the community, more organizations such as Tumblr and people looking to help will know where to go, and the more help these nonprofits will get.
“Scheduling is the hardest part, but I want to do more in the future,” said Lianna. “It’s nice to get out into the community and to be a part of the city you live in.”
The creative process can be brutal. Artists and ad executives alike can tell you it takes blood, sweat, tears and commitment to transform talent into work you can be proud of.
CreateAthon focuses that intense creative energy into a 24 hour period. It’s insanity, but, thankfully, CreateAthon believes, sometimes, we all just need a break. Whether you’re working for one hour or 24, it takes fun and physical movement to get juices flowing so that you can put passion into your work.
There’s no need to feel guilty for taking a break. In fact, it may be exactly what you need to go that extra mile in whatever you’re working on. Einstein took them! It’s all a part of the creative process. Work doesn’t need to be miserable; it can be a lot of fun!
These breaks can even be crucial. The New York Times published an article in 2012 called “To Stay On Schedule, Take A Break”, which shared a body of evidence proving taking regular active breaks from mental tasks “improves productivity and creativity - and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion”.
At CreateAthon, we get sponsors to provide fun, active breaks. Last year, Grow Yoga RVA and Richmond Comedy Coalition came by to provide yoga and acting classes, free of charge. We also did a Harlem Shake video in costumes. What people look back on in their CreateAthon experience isn’t just all of the hard work they did and how proud of their work they are; they remember an experience full of life. They remember costumes, insanity, laughter, solidarity in all that it means to be creative, and to love and enjoy what they were doing. This is what is so unique about the creative process, and this is what is so unique about CreateAthon.
Breaks can take many shapes and forms, for those of us bouncing with energy, to those who seek quiet and relaxation.
“There was always something going on,” said Mike Rodriguez, a team leader last year with CreateAthon. “Any time you left your room, you could pop in on what other people were doing.”
“It was fun,” added Alana Robinson, another former team leader. “Last year I did the improv comedy, and the year before the back massages and the yoga, which were super awesome and relaxing. It was a stressful time of the day,” she mentioned, referring to a point in the blitz where her work was evaluated and criticized. “It was nice to relax and it was quiet. People cope differently, and for me having just silence was nice. For some people, it’s laughter.”
If you’re like us and can’t wait for the next CreateAthon event, here are some things you can do at home when you’re working on any kind of creative assignment or big exam. So what are you waiting for? Get moving!