A team of volunteers in Brazil looking to make a broad and positive impact created a unique and replicable volunteer model that ensures that there will be continuity and sustainability for local institutions participating in service projects.
Centro de Orientação ao Adolescente de Campinas (COMEC), a non-government organization (NGO) that assists juvenile offenders and their families through programs that foster personal growth and promote good citizenship, expanded to three locations and needed help with its IT infrastructure. An initial team of volunteers from IBM in Brazil spent one month integrating COMEC’s network and improving its data storage.
As the volunteer team neared completion of its assignment, it became apparent that COMEC needed additional support. Anticipating this contingency, three other volunteers from IBM—André Blaul, Geraldo Moraes and Vagner Anastacio—visited COMEC several times to observe the progress of the technology project, and participate in conference calls to make plans for the future.
Blaul, Moraes and Anastacio, from the IBM office in Hortolandia, Brazil, are now providing consultancy services to COMEC. They were able to work with COMEC's board of directors to formulate a plan to reduce the organization's expenses and increase its income. The use of open source financial software created more efficiency in the organization's daily activities. Volunteers also encouraged COMEC's staff to install and run World Community Grid on all their computers, which allows researchers to tap into unused computing power to further their studies. In addition, the volunteers introduced tools that will help in the delivery of a planned basic project management course for COMEC employees.
Geraldo Moraes summed up his volunteer experience: "Working as a volunteer in COMEC gave me an opportunity to try new experiences and to be involved in my community. Our presence at the NGO motivated the children."
The aspects of the follow-on activity performed by the three volunteers became the core of the Local Volunteer Sustainability Project and will deepen the impact of future volunteers who will work with COMEC. When one project ends, the NGO will continue to receive assistance and, in the process, other volunteers develop and hone many skills during their involvement.
"I hope that the continuation of this work will help others to see the potential of COMEC," added Vagner Anastacio. "I am very happy to be part of this project and hope what we do enables COMEC to reach more adolescents with their programs."