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Posted by Aspen Hollyer on 30th May 2017

Houston Hackathon 2017

My Houston Hackathon team

I met some amazing people the 5th annual Houston Hackathon. Our group ranged from a professional developer with years of experience to a middle-school kid who had to leave for a few hours in the middle of the event to attend his 8th-grade graduation. Needless to say, I had a blast.

My Houston Hackathon team My Houston Hackathon team

The hackathon was civic-themed, with winners chosen by a panel of judges including city council members. The mayor even stopped by during our presentations.

I went in with the intention of using my teaching experience to build a public-education-themed app, but I ended up gravitating towards a project to help Houston’s rapidly growing refugee population.

We came out with a website called HoustonHelps, which connects refugee case managers and other nonprofits with locals who want to donate furniture, clothing, toys, and other goods. Case managers often need basic living supplies on short notice, so our app helps donors put themselves into a database which nonprofit workers can quickly search for the things they need. It also scrapes Craigslist for free furniture, clothing, and household items.

In the end, I’m very proud of our project. Most of my work was on the design and front end, but I did everything I could to glean some knowledge from the experienced developers who put together the web scraper and everything on the back end.

We didn’t place in the top 3, but we were approached at the end of the hackathon by a couple of social workers. They loved the project, and we agreed to clean it up and hand it off to them. Hopefully it helps our community for a long time to come!

You can take a look at the original prototype here.

You can see the other projects, including the winners, here.