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Elliot Roth is a junior Biomedical Engineering major at VCU. You may be wondering what Biomedical Engineering has to do with CreateAthon. But after Mike Rodriguez, a first time team leader in 2013, told Eliot about CreateAthon and Elliot read an article online about it, he decided to get out of his comfort zone and applied to be a team leader. Sure enough, he found himself spending his semester meeting with clients and planning for his first ever CreateAthon.

“I wanted to do CreateAthon to learn something completely different.” Elliot said.  “What really drew me to CrateAthon was the fact that I was learning through doing and it helped nonprofits. I want to be an entrepreneur and I knew I would have to learn communications and leadership.”

He found it was a huge jump. Coming to a Mass Comm program from Biomedical Engineering was like learning a new language.

“When I say ‘margin’, I mean margin of error,” he said. “When Mass Comm majors say it, they mean ‘spacing between the text and the border of a page.’ It was another culture.”

And he had his doubts and fears coming into it.

“The scariest moment was when my computer broke before sending stuff in to the printer my first day of class. I felt so out of place that I wanted to drop it,” he said.

But fast forward to March, during the event, and Elliot felt right at home.

“The craziest moment was all of the costumes during CreateAthon. I wore a sleeping bag backwards, a onesie, multiple hats and shot nerf guns at everyone.”

And in the end, there’s always the moment that makes all of the hard work and insanity worth it.

“I was walking back from presenting to the client with my team. There was a feeling that we did something worthwhile and we felt invincible in the first light of the day,” he said.

For Elliot, this was his leap into something completely different. And the verdict?

“It was an incredibly valuable learning experience,” Elliot said.  “I learned that the more face time you spend with a client, the better. I learned that after a first draft, everything is possible. I learned that an analytic engineering mindset can work in a creative setting but has to stretch and bend and be open to the possibilities. I learned that in order to create great things for others, you have to be humble, empathetic and work hard,” he said. “It was incredibly fun and I’m going to tell all my friends to try it.”

#NOEXPLANATIONNEEDED

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I sat in on the presentation for nonprofit learning point, a nonprofit that provides nonprofit and leadership development for the community.

The group, led by Elliot Roth, went above and beyond, emphasizing their goal to create a message that could really get out there and make local nonprofits aware of this resource that is so conveniently available to them. They identified a target audience and solutions which in part included a folder with inserts for promotional materials and a brochure. I’ll be able to share some examples here soon, but I can tell you now; it looked very clean, professional and clear. It was awesome.

The team identified the resources nonprofit learning solutions provides very clearly, and offered detailed advice for the nonprofit as they move forward and grow. They provided some deliverables above and beyond all of that, and identified word of mouth as one effective solution for awareness of this resource.

And in that moment of truth, after the insanity of these past 24 hours, the client responded with.. *drumroll please*..

"You guys are incredible. Just incredible." And she expressed gratitude for all of the work.

It was honestly moving to just be in the room for that. I’m pretty sure there were tears.

What followed were plenty of hugs, smiles, selfies and senses of relief and well deserved pride.

And as an added note, though the true award of CreateAthon is the satisfaction and joy that comes from turning in your work to a happy client, selfie game award of the year goes to Tommy McPhail. Seriously. His selfie game was consistently on point, and the client loved how the group incorporated the selfies into their presentation to give it a personal touch. #wellearned #impressed

Congratulations on a job well done!

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Burritos + corgis = you have no reason to not apply for CreateAthon next year. #HAPSPLACE2BE

Burritos + corgis = you have no reason to not apply for CreateAthon next year. #HAPSPLACE2BE

EXCLUSIVE #IMPORTANT #BREAKING

This is a corgi who came for a visit. Her name is Matilda. That is all.

twitter.com/CorgiOnCampus

The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.” The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.” The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.” The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.” The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.” The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.” The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.”

The teams seem to be working really well together this year! The atmosphere is very friendly and the day is young. In the words of second time CreateAthon participant Mike Rodriguez, “Good vibes all around.”

Things are gettin’ pretty crazy! Things are gettin’ pretty crazy! Things are gettin’ pretty crazy! Things are gettin’ pretty crazy!

Things are gettin’ pretty crazy!

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Good morning! Everyone is wide awake and arriving to what is going to be a wonderful CreateAthon 2014! Energy levels are very high and we’re all feeling optimistic and giddy, and I’m looking forward to seeing how long this will last. We’re all set up for success here, with everything from barrels of energy drinks and a giant bean bag chair, to fake samurai swords and stuffed animals, so, suffice to say, I think we’ll be ok.

Right now people are discussing when they think they’re going to crash. Guesses range from 4 hours from now to 4 am. Thankfully, the coffee we are currently loving is available throughout the event.

Speaking of coffee, breakfast is, of course, delicious. A big thank you goes out to Dixie Donuts, Cliff Bars and some of the other lovely donations we’ve received that will keep us alive and relatively sane as these insane 24 hours unfold.

I’ll be “liveblogging” CreateAthon 2014 throughout the day, so keep coming back to this blog to follow our journey. You can also follow us on 

Instagram (@createathon)

Facebook

Twitter

Vine (@createathonvcu)

Youtube

Hashtags to follow are #createathonvcu and #createathon !

We’re about to spiral into creative insanity, and we’d love for you to join us.

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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.