My Experience As A Web Development Volunteer


In need of more time to find a job before I had to return homw to Zimbabwe, I discovered that I was allowed to volunteer. After asking the local United Way for a place where I could volunteer my programming skills, I discovered the Share Center of Battle Creek a charity tailored to helping people with a wide range of issues get back to their feet.

Once I met the director, I started by gathering the website’s requirements which meant understanding their mission, the work they do as well as some pictures to use on the website. With that, I plotted the webpages outline and then started looking into making a WordPress site for them. Not only did it make sense for them to use, I could also learn how to code PHP in the process.

Well, it didn’t go that way.

I fell into a depressive episode and I couldn’t touch the website for months. Around Christmas, I decided to get over it1 and just get a proof of concept working. So, I got a Netlify account, downloaded Bootstrap and I got to work making something decent looking. There were a few issues with Netlify, such as getting it to work with Hugo but I got something functional. This is what the site looks like on Netlify now.

I then emailed the director and I got no reply for two weeks. I then decided to call and realized that the director quit months before and a new one would be coming in. I then arranged for a meeting and I met with the director to give him info on my progress. He then suggested that we hook up the domain to the Netlify site while he set up the proper WordPress installation. At this point I realized just how unecessarily complicated Netlify was given that more mature CMS options were… more mature2!

Given that the director had just started a new job and that there was a lot of work to do, it was hard to stary in touch and check all the changes I made. I couldn’t change the domain and went straight to uploading the WordPress site. From there I tried to do an accessibility audit and while I could get some changes in, others needed source code access, which was really hard to obtain. So from that point, it was me trying to speculate things to do.

Once I failed my last batch of interviews, I said bye and went home and I don’t have much to show for my time.

What I Learned

Not much really. I really wish I communicated more and kept stedy progress on the website. I did learn about carrying out an acessibility audit. Not sure I wanna count this as experience. Publishing this is probably a mistake and I’ll earn the side eye of employers who decide to read this, but I’ve finally got some closure so whatever.


  1. “Get over it” isn’t really the best way to get it across. It’s more like dredging up the energy to work on it.
  2. Like seriously, I doubt flat files are the best way to organize content.