I joined the Hacking Health Ottawa (HHO) chapter in August 2016. I was working in health at the time and looking for new ways to bring together diverse stakeholders. I came across a post on Twitter about this thing called a Hackathon, and it was focused on health. I reached out to learn more and was invited to the chapter team meeting and a smaller event they had coming up. It was a great way to learn about Hacking Health, the people who make it all happen, and the work they do.
I came across a post on Twitter // I reached out to learn more
Throughout those first few weeks, I met students and professionals of all ages working in health, design, engineering, business, and government. The diversity of event participants was reflected in the make-up of the HHO team. The quality of speakers, engagement of participants and dedication of the chapter’s volunteers was inspiring. I still didn’t really understand what a developer did or how ‘ideation’ was different from ‘brainstorming,’ but it didn’t matter.
This was a learning journey, and it culminated in a three-day event each year called a hackathon, where a DJ is a must, energy is contagious, and people don’t want to leave (seriously…we had to kick people out at the end of each day).
There is always a moment during our events where someone realizes HHO is 100% powered by volunteers.
There is always a moment during our events where someone realizes HHO is 100% powered by volunteers. Even though we thank and recognize our volunteers at the beginning and end of every event, it can often take folks a few events for it to really sink in. Their eyes light up, and they can’t believe it. You do all this in your spare time the say. Yes, we do. We work with amazing, dedicated people who show up, roll up their sleeves and make the impossible possible year over year. I can’t thank our team of volunteers enough for their generosity and commitment to HHO.
As a volunteer myself, I have gained so much more than I have given. I have learned new skills, expanded my professional network, met so many talented people and been inspired by their stories of success and failure.
Never underestimate The Volunteer Factor. It lifts us up each and every day.
My learning journey continues, and I am grateful for all those who have and continue to make HHO a reality. The volunteers, the community, the health care partners and the sponsors. Thank you.
Karine Dietrich is Partnership & Sponsorship Lead at the Ottawa Hacking Health chapter. She’s also Vice-President, Public Engagement and Knowledge Mobilization at Volunteer Canada, and owns a B.A. in Criminology with a concentration in law from the Carlton University.