Transformer: Everybody pushes this volunteer’s buttons

JRP Web Development Volunteer Harish Enjoying Southern California

JRP Web Development Volunteer Harish enjoying Southern California

Harish Sundararaman has done a great deal of volunteer work through Jericho Road, and because he gets a lot back, he intends to continue volunteering.

So far, the India-born computer engineer has helped five Pasadena-area organizations develop or update websites. Some of his work has been quite extensive. Altogether, Harish has volunteered an estimated 170 hours of his own time, sharing his expertise with Young & Healthy, Adaptive Adventures Unlimited, Pasadena Village, Door of Hope, and DOVIA-LA.

Two of the websites on which he’s spent a lot of time are the site for Young & Healthy (www.yhpasadena.org), and Adaptive Adventures Unlimited (www.adaptiveadventuresunimited.org). His work helps these organizations maintain a presence 24/7, and draws interest and volunteers to the organizations themselves.

“Harish’s gift of time and expertise has greatly enhanced our ability to effectively and professionally communicate with our clients, volunteers, their families and donors,” says Jennifer Bartel, CTRS, Executive Director of Adaptive Adventures Unlimited. “Harish volunteered to fine-tune our “home-made” website. He is a most gracious and skilled volunteer!”

JRP Volunteer Harish and  Young & Healthy Dev. Dir. Jan celebrate the completion of their new website.

JRP Volunteer Harish and Young & Healthy Dev. Dir. Jan celebrate the completion of their new website.

Harish is not a website designer. His specialty is in coding or programming the website. He creates custom software programs that make all the widgets, bells and whistles that you see on the screen actually work.

Over the past two years, Harish has coded software for a number of widgets, sidebars, and other custom functions. Beginning with basic web page templates, he and a volunteer designer have created custom widgets that provide links for such necessities as donations and volunteers. Widgets allow website users to click on a particular icon and move instantaneously to the relevant location on the site.

Among his other useful ideas, Harish created a custom widget for Young & Healthy’s home page which contains topical messages that can be changed by the organization as needed.
As a volunteer, Harish works with website designers and community organizations brought together through Jericho Road. As part of this process, Harish often sits in on development meetings in which website pages and concepts are planned. With his engineering training and computer knowledge, he has been able to suggest additions or enhancements to the website that work for particular organizations.

“When you are a volunteer sometimes you have ideas that you can throw out that will help NGOs see some of the things that they can do,” Harish admits. “I like doing websites.”
Jericho Road Pasadena has been a good organization with which to work, Harish says, because Site Director Melanie Goodyear defines the scope of his volunteer work with the organization before the project begins. By focusing on each organization’s most pressing needs, Harish says, he is able to help the organization get what they need most quickly and efficiently.

“Volunteer work gives me a certain kind of satisfaction,” Harish says. “I like to explore what’s available in the development world, and I am learning more about website design which I also enjoy. I see this as a learning opportunity for me.”

Harish received an engineering degree from the Vellore Institute of Technology in Vellore, India. Four and a half years ago, he moved to Glendale as an employee of Cognizant Technology Solutions, a subcontractor that works on Nestle’s corporate computer systems.
Shortly after the birth of his two-year-old son, Sanat, Harish noticed an article about volunteer work in a Nestle company newsletter. When he approached Nestle’s Community Affairs Manager, he was referred to Jericho Road. The connection has been fulfilling for him, he says.

“I like giving back to the community where I live,” Harish says. “I also like meeting different people.”

Thank you to volunteer David Drum for writing this article! David is a writer based in Eagle Rock. He is the author of several books including the comic novel, Introducing the Richest Family in America.  www.daviddrumthewriter.com

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