48in48: Bringing the world together, one website at a time

By | 3 minute read | September 10, 2020

While 2020 has been an unexpected and unprecedented year for many of us, this October gives us a chance for some normalcy by participating in a global volunteer event. During this year’s first-ever fully virtual, global 48in48 event, we are bringing hundreds of volunteers from around the world to create websites for non-profit organizations.

I’ve been involved with 48in48 for several years, but what’s even more exciting for me this year is that I’m not just a volunteer. I’m helping to run an event that over the course of its history has helped over 900 non-profits. Looking back, it seems crazy to find myself in this role now, but here is my story of how I became a “48in48er.”

About 3 years ago, Swanie Tolentino of the NA Hybrid Cloud team, posted a Slack message about a volunteer interest meeting for an upcoming event held in Durham, NC. She described this as an opportunity for IBMers to work together to help 48 non-profit organizations build their individual websites—all done over a weekend in a sort of “hack-a-thon” model.

Since I am interested in anything digital, I was intrigued. I signed up so I could really understand what this experience was all about. The event was held at a small start-up company’s office space somewhere in downtown Durham. When I walked in, I saw a bunch of people with laptops in groups chatting to each other about design layouts, page content and other web jargon.

As I found the table assigned to IBMers, I was happy to see a few colleagues from the RTP office. They made me feel right at home, and I jumped right in on my 48in48 web development adventure. Our assigned non-profit, Imagination Station, was ecstatic that they were getting a free website to help them spread their message. I was surprised at how much I could work on, given it was on WordPress, and at the end of the weekend, I couldn’t believe at what we accomplished over the course of 48 hours – seeing the website we were able deliver to this non-profit made me so proud.

Being able to drive change for non-profits in this way had a huge effect on me. Since my initial 48in48, I’ve participated in the RTP 48in48 event each year. This year, as we’ve moved to a virtual format to make volunteering times more flexible, I’ve been able to take a much bigger role. I was part of the committee that organized our June virtual event, I’ve even been able to help out with 2 events that weren’t related to IBM, and I’m now leading this upcoming event in October!

That is the story of how I became a “48in48er”.  I will tell you that the cause is infectious, and I urge each of you to try it out at least once.  It’s a lot of fun, you get to meet a lot of new people, and above all, you are helping out those less fortunate in so many ways.

Want to join 120+ IBMers volunteering with 48in48 next month?

Sign up to volunteer as part of our IBM team here!

Event Date: October 2nd–4th, 2020.

Registration deadline:  Monday, September 14th, 2020.

Want to nominate a non-profit organization? ​​​​​​​Refer a non-profit here.

Record your Volunteer Hours:  Once you’ve volunteered, don’t forget to log your volunteer hours on the IBM Volunteers Portal to earn Volunteer Grant dollars to donate to an eligible charity of your choice.

Questions? If you are an IBMer and have questions, please reach out to Phil Robertson, Gabby Kirschner, Arti Badami, or Bee-Lian Quah.