One of the major organs in WebDevStudios’ anatomy is its gigantic heart, and from it comes our contribution to the community in both charitable and educational capacities. As giving back is part of the core of WDS, it only made sense for us to turn the lens outward and shine a light on other people in the tech community who are similarly passionate and proactive.
As a result, welcome to our monthly spotlight on non-profits who are doing the good work–the meaty, meaningful stuff–and making the world a better place. Last month, we featured Girl Develop It, a nationwide non-profit organization that provides affordable web and software development programs for adult women.
If you’re at all familiar with WDS history, you already know that veterans hold a special place in our hearts. As a result, we are pleased and honored to be highlighting Happy Joe this month.
MEET HAPPY JOE!
Happy Joe is a non-profit that specializes in helping veterans launch successful businesses and/or careers in the web technology industry. Happy Joe was launched on January 1, 2014 and officially recognized as a 501c3 non-profit organization on September 15, 2014.
Happy Joe provides business mentoring, career development, training resources, and work opportunities to veterans from all branches of the military, regardless of the era in which they served, in hopes that they can help veterans who are in need have access to bigger and better opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 573,000 unemployed veterans in 2014, and although things do seem to be improving, that is still a massive number of people who are capable and dedicated and, despite their honorable service, struggling to get by.
When I spoke to the folks over at Happy Joe, I asked them if they thought the tech industry had a specific, unique draw for veterans, and why. James Dalman, the founder of Happy Joe (who you’ll find out more about below!), said that he thought the exponential growth of the tech industry and the demand for skilled people in web design, web development, and more, was a perfect fit for veterans, who are well-trained, highly self-motivated, and self-sufficient people.
According to Dalman, “Skills can be learned, but you can’t always find the ethics and values that veterans have with some of their civilian counterparts.” Those ethics and values make veterans a wonderful fit for an industry that often requires flexibility and a dedication to constantly learning.
WHO IS BEHIND IT?
As I said above, Happy Joe was founded by James Dalman, a branding and digital media consultant who served in both the U.S. Army Reserve and Oklahoma National Guard as an 11 Bravo Infantryman. Their team of six all have close ties to veteran’s issues and are working to not only provide empowerment and support to veterans who need it, but also inspire a new perspective on veterans.
In Mr. Dalman’s words:
“I was sickened by the stories of our military veterans not getting the VA benefits they had earned the rights to. I was horrified to hear that at least twenty-two of our veterans commit suicide every day. I was tired of seeing our heroes struggling to make ends meet after they had given so much to our country. I knew that I had to do something and I knew that I could make a difference!
…We wanted to reframe the harmful stereotypes that typically surround military veterans. There seems to be a mindset that all veterans are “damaged goods” in some way and this simply isn’t true.
The word HAPPY is obvious. We wanted to show the world the success stories and how veterans can have an amazing life and journey despite any negative experiences they might have encountered. “JOE” is an old slang-term for soldiers that dates back to WWII. It’s a historical yet generic term that was applied to all military veterans, regardless of their branch or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
So Happy Joe is about promoting the idea of happy, healthy, and successful military veterans and that all “Joes” are equally important, whether they were in the front lines or in the rear with the gear.
There are already enough ‘wounded’ organizations out there. We wanted to be different. The world already has enough bad in it. Happy Joe is all about the good in the world.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you know anything about non-profits, you know that the number one thing they always need is financial backing. If you’d like to donate to Happy Joe, you can do so right here.
There are a few other ways you can help as well:
- Become a corporate partner and help them offer training.
- Hire their veterans for smaller web media projects.
- Serve on their team and become a “Joe.”
Even if you don’t have the dough, becoming a mentor with Happy Joe would be an incredible gift; there is a huge interest from the military community, but the need for those willing to impart their wisdom and teach those who are eager to learn is massive.
Specifically, Happy Joe has a brand new initiative called WP BootCamp, which combines live training events across the United States with an online community that will help veterans and their family members learn WordPress and business skills. They are currently seeking corporate partners and volunteers for these events, so go check it out and see what they need!
Know of any amazing non-profits that are using tech to save the world? Give us a shout in the comments and let us know who you’d like to see highlighted on the WDS blog.