For most high school students, volunteering is another stress-inducing factor in their graduation process. This is not because they are lazy or do not like helping for free, but because most of the time, students do not see any value in their volunteering experiences. It's simply a place where they waste the required amount of time. In order to change this, we wanted to build a platform that connected people to other people that need help in their local vicinity. This way, students (and everyone in general) can see the tangible impact their actions have and feel good about volunteering. This is how Volunteer Connect was born.
What it does
Our web platform Volunteer Connect connects individuals looking for volunteering opportunities to other members of their community who are in need of help and are looking for volunteers to solve a problem. Requesters can add a tag to their request card, which allows volunteers to quickly sift through a large volume of requests and find ones they can complete!
How we built it
We built Volunteer Connect by using node.js for the backend. This allowed us to easily grab user information by parsing GET/POST request forms they fill out. It also allowed us to connect that database with the frontend in order to show data! In order to store data, we used a CockroachDB cluster, in which we created multiple tables to hold user information. Finally, we used vanilla HTML5 and Bootstrap for format and styling!
Challenges we ran into
To begin with, the member of the group that we delegated the task of setting up cockroachDB to couldn’t connect to the database. We had them try to install the necessary packages through both cmd and the power shell multiple times, as well as downloading the software from cockroachlabs.com. In the end though, once we tried setting up a cockroachDB cluster on another computer, it worked just fine without any issues. However this ended up taking up a few hours of our time as we just couldn’t figure out why cockroachDB wouldn’t work.
Another challenge we encountered right after this was figuring out how to integrate cockroachDB with our website. In order to do this, we had to learn SQL for the first time and we had to dive into the documentation of cockroachDB to try and find if we could use node.js in order to merge with our code.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The biggest accomplishment of this Hackathon for us is the successful integration of CockroachDB services into our project. Seeing as only one of our members had a brief prior experience with databases (NoSQL at that too), learning a whole new service and making it work with our project feels amazing!
Another huge accomplishment for us is (almost) completing this hackathon! As this is our second hackathon ever, just having the experience of finishing, staying up all night, and learning new things is big! Plus, we did it all without a single drop of coffee or energy drinks!!!
What we learned
We've learned a lot through this hackathon, starting with the main takeaways, we learned SQL and how to work with cockroachDB. We also got a lot of practice on reading documentation as we had mentioned before. Finally, for one of our members, this was their first time working with a database as well as one of their first times working on a website and so they learned at least a little bit of each of the languages and frameworks we used throughout the project.
What's next for Volunteer Connect
The next step for Volunteer Connect is to add more account-related services. As of now, the account system is in its beginning stages, only having a sign-up and log-in. Later on, we want to add an in-game currency to help motivate volunteers, a chat area to message past volunteers you have interacted with, and a rating system to increase trust in our volunteers.