The Code Cavalry Arrives

How a “Like” leads to impact

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

We have a strong, diverse team who’s dedicated to making the world a better place for Dreamers, but our diversity in experience means that some of our skills reside in silos. Anyone on our team could maintain a simple budget and financial ledger, for instance, but how much expertise in software engineering do we have spread across the team? The truth is that we have one primary technical contributor, and we have much to do that rests on our technical execution.

To deny that we need help with fulfilling our mission would be foolish.

The faster we can release DACA Time to the world, the sooner we can start making an impact, and the sooner we can reduce the financial burden the DACA application process imposes upon so many Dreamers today.

So we asked for help, and some pretty amazing things happened.

A Call to Action

A couple of weeks ago, Nicholas, our resident technologist, posted this message to LinkedIn:

Hey, friends! This isn’t a normal job posting — it’s a volunteer opportunity.
I’m the CTO of DACA Time. We are a team of volunteers who are building software to help improve the lives of Dreamers! This is a great opportunity to use the skills you have to help people in really tough situations — we technologists can use our skills for real, tangible, positive effects. We can use all the help we can get: I’m working hard on this, but there’s only so much time in the day and I do need to sleep sometimes!
Our app is built using React, redux, and SASS (SCSS) on the frontend (where we primarily need help; the backend has for the most part been completed). It’s hosted on AWS, the code lives on GitLab. We’re friendly, we don’t bite, and if you want, I will bake you some cookies or pastries as a bribe!

The message got shared — and spread, and shared — until, before we knew it, over a dozen people had answered our call. A dozen amazing, kind-hearted people who want to make a positive impact on Dreamers’ lives have joined our ranks. A dozen people took the time to join our Slack channel and attend an introductory meeting: they made that crucial first step on a journey that can help change the world.

Backlog? What backlog?

The sudden (and incredible) influx of help introduces a really, really good problem to have: we don’t have enough of a well-formed backlog to keep everyone busy!

Sure, we have a high-level plan for addressing DACA applicants’ pains through our software — a set of loosely-defined features to help reduce the cost and complexity of the DACA application process — but, in all fairness, they’re not fit for developer consumption. Why waste time grooming a backlog well ahead of the capacity of the one technical contributor to the project?

Well… in case you get a wonderfully crazy amount of volunteers practically overnight, that’s why.

Lesson learned.

An early first-iteration wireframe

So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. And we’re still working to ensure we can stay ahead of the team that has graced us with their velocity. We’re iterating over wireframes, debating MVPs, and decomposing real problems into manageable chunks of work. We’ve defined reusable components, completely overhauled the way we think about user experience in the course of an hour, and formed a narrative around solving a problem that weaves its way through features, user stories, acceptance criteria, and tasks. We’re building actionable collateral that will help our contributors work as independently as they’d like without getting too prescriptive.

And all that has happened since Sunday.

We’ve opened a tiny floodgate of people ready and willing to contribute to our mission, and we need to be sure that, just as they responded to our call, we’re responding to theirs: We’re here to help, so let us help.

It’s a little overwhelming, but we’re having a blast.

Thank you.

No, seriously — thank you. Whoever you are. You’re reading this, which means you’re willing to invest some of your time in learning about what we’re up to.

Maybe you’re an immigrant, an ally, a Dreamer, or a social entrepreneur. Maybe you’re one of our co-founders or one of our amazing volunteers. Maybe we’ve just piqued your interest, and you’re not sure why, but, nonetheless, you’re willing to take five minutes out of your day to read our updates.

Thank you.

Because, without you — whatever your motivations for reading this — you’re a part of a growing ecosystem that’s working to improve lives and change the world. You may be the retweet that propels something we’ve written into viral status and increases awareness of our cause. You might be the “Like” on LinkedIn that grabs the attention of just the right person at just the right moment to accelerate our mission.

Everything helps, and you’ve helped tremendously.

Interested in volunteer opportunities or just want to learn more? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a response here or on Facebook!

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