Nonprofits and community organizations have issues reaching those in need of their services, and marginalized communities are unable to find or access the services they need. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region works with a network of 100+ community programs to offer vital services to individuals and families in the Waterloo and Cambridge area. Due to turnover, it is challenging for volunteers to familiarize themselves with the services offered by other programs in The Network. We wanted to build a platform that best enables volunteers to help people.

Our research shows that 1.5 million women in Canada lost their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic and women represented 70% of all job losses in the key demographic aged 25 to 54 years. (RBC,2020) Black, racialized and immigrant women are disproportionately represented as personal support workers, cleaners, and other essential but low-paid occupations that do not provide paid sick leave or family leave. (Statistics Canada) A recent Statistics Canada survey done to understand the economic impacts of COVID-19 on racialized residents of Canada found that racialized communities faced higher rates of job loss and hours reduction compared to White respondents.

Based on 2983 Responses from the Ontario Non-profit Network “State of the Non-profit Sector” Report conducted between May 17- June 4, 2021, 67% Nonprofits are operating virtually in 2021. Almost ⅔ of non-profits reported an increase in demand for programs and services. ½ reported pandemic related losses in revenue. Nonprofits lost a massive number of volunteers during the crisis. Hotspot regions in GTA faced greatest increase in demand for programs and services. Finally, the need for workforce development and digital infrastructure to support nonprofit service delivery

What it does

Our platform allows volunteers to connect people to vital services offered by other community programs. A volunteer can select a specific service that someone is looking for and a results page will display all community programs offering that service. This enables them to share accurate information with the people they help. The advantages of this is service identification based on location and needs retrieved from the user profile while allows for reduced time, and increased resource efficiency.

How we built it

We started with wireframing using Figma. For the backend we used a PostgreSQL, ExpressJS, and NodeJS. For the frontend we used ReactJS, MaterialUI, HTML/CSS, and google-places.

Challenges we ran into

The biggest challenge we ran into was using a new language and frameworks. The other challenge we faced was collaborating and helping one another during a virtual event. We couldn’t just lean over a tap the shoulder of our teammate!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of building something using new tools and navigating a virtual hackathon! We are also proud of ourselves for getting to know one another and having fun throughout the weekend.

What we learned

We learned SO MUCH!! Like how to build a backend, use React, and style using CSS. The many workshops taught us how to use new tools and the speakers inspired us to build an impactful project.

What's next for Care Connect

Our next steps include fully integrating the frontend and backend, and adding new features such as the ability to connect with community programs directly and adding a map to the search results page. This project has a lot of potential as it is rooted in the community and based on the how we can better support nonprofits and community organizations moving forward as a result of the pandemic. We can partner with municipal provincial and federal governments by participating in councils, contributing to better policies, plans, programs & funds. We can also partner with schools, religious institutions, and childcare centers to enact volunteer service-learning, food & clothing donation drives, youth employment programs and vulnerable youth assistance programs. Finally, we can work with youth and youth-led organizations to consolidate purchases with other collectives to reduce costs by creating a Youth Ambassador Network to promote site + building community.

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