For my project, I created an Android app, Carachute, that directly connects charities to their volunteers and supporters to create a more streamlined communication system. Charities have their own side of the app where they can create a prioritised list of their most needed items. Supporters can sign up for an account, and follow the charity of their choice to receive alerts and view their wish list. Charities can send special text alerts to supporters to immediately communicate with them. Additionally, supporters automatically receive text alerts from charities they're following every few times that charity updates their list.
I came up with the idea because I had observed a gap in the non-profit and charity marketplace: people often donate items that non-profits or charities don't necessarily need the most. Thus, donations don't always effectively contribute to a charity's needs. As a result, I created Carachute, which allows charities to more directly communicate their needs to their volunteers.
As my project has continued, it is having more and more of an impact. I started out by partnering with a local charity, the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM). BEAM was the first charity to implement Carachute and use it to interact with their volunteers and supporters. Carachute has allowed BEAM to track their needs and connect with volunteers. Currently, approximately 40 people have accounts on Carachute. I plan to continue expanding the app in the future by adding more charities and having their supporters use Carachute. Right now, I am working with another charity, St. Francis House, to get their supporters involved with Carachute as well. I also hope to apply for a grant from Youth Service America to continue developing the Android version of the app and produce an iOS version. It would mean a lot to me if you would download Carachute and sign up for an account, just search Carachute volunteer on the Google Play Store!
Overall, my Gold Award has provided a deeper meaning of Girl Scouting to me: helping and inspiring others. I have always enjoyed participating in community service, but creating my own project from the ground-up that impacted my community really revealed to me how much I love being a Girl Scout. Girl Scouting has given me opportunities to form new friendships and learn leadership skills. Without being a Girl Scout for the past 11 years, I may have been a very different person today. Nonetheless, I am glad to be a Girl Scout and would not change anything about the experiences I’ve had.
Finally, I’d encourage anyone to try and develop an app. It can be about whatever you want: what makes you tick, what is your passion? I made an app because I was able to combine my passion for community service with my passion for coding. There is a large gender gap in the field of technology right now, so let’s get some more women in technology!