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iCarol Co-founder/CTO Neil McKechnie enters his first hackathon

Laptop in use

In case you don’t know him, our CTO Neil loves to code. And he also loves to address social challenges with technology. So when the University of San Francisco’s School of Management announced their one-day Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference and subsequent two-day Tech4Good Hackathon, he immediately signed up to make the short drive down to the event to see how he could help.

hackathon definition

About 70 bright individuals arrived for the hackathon’s opening ceremony on Saturday morning and, one-by-one, introduced themselves to the group by announcing their skills, why they were there, and an idea for what problem they would like to see solved in ways that would have social impact.

In the ensuing hour, participants informally coalesced into the teams that would start building their entry into the hackathon’s competition, to be judged the next day by an esteemed panel of five high-tech executives from the Bay Area’s startup scene. By introducing himself as a “CTO, architect and full-stack developer” Neil was in high demand to join numerous of the 10 teams who hoped to have a useful, coded prototype to show about 24 hours later.

hackathon selfie

As he has a family member who could benefit from it, Neil settled on a team to build a web-based tool that replicates a “real world” tool that helps young learners with phonics, letter identification and word formation in their journey toward reading fluency. Each of his other three team members brought very useful ideas and skills and were amazed at how quickly they organized into a highly functional and productive group.

After more than a few energy drinks, late night coding sessions, and last minute changes, the team submitted their entry for judging on Sunday afternoon. Although Neil’s team didn’t win, he helped other teams throughout the weekend and was impressed with all of the final entries.

Although it was his first hackathon, we’re pretty sure it won’t be his last!

hackathon group 2

hackathon room

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Webinar: National Council on Problem Gambling Presents Information on Sports Gambling

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On February 28th at 1pm EST, Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, will present a webinar on the topic of sports gambling.

Here are the webinar details as provided by NCPG:

    About the webinar: One of the biggest current issues in gaming is the legalization of sports gambling. Join Keith to learn more about the political, program and policy implications for the problem gambling field. Our monthly webinars have received great feedback and we are excited to continue this series.

    Cost: While the webinars remain FREE for members, they are now open to non-members for the price of $59 per webinar. Become a member

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Celebrating 2-1-1 Day

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Each year, February 11th is celebrated as 2-1-1 day throughout North America.

2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember three digit number, but unlike 4-1-1 for directory assistance or 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies, the focus of 2-1-1 is to provide people with comprehensive information and referral to various human services in their communities.

Rather than spend hours of frustration going it alone calling around to various agencies or surfing the web, help-seekers can make 2-1-1 their first call for assistance and speak to a trained specialist that can spend time evaluating their needs, educating them about resources, and then connect them with the appropriate services. These 2-1-1 agencies widen their reach by making their services available via chat, texting, and integrating their well-curated database of resources into their website. They also build partnerships with other providers by sharing their resource information and making it available to collaborators in a multitude of ways. Of course, iCarol is delighted to help a large percentages of 2-1-1s across Canada and the United States tap into these tools and innovation to help their communities.

iCarol is proud to be working with so many 211 providers whose organizations provide a vital service to their communities by connecting millions of people to essential services each year. If you work at a 2-1-1 and celebrated this day at your helpline, whether it’s just a small occasion or large outreach event, we want to hear from you! Send your stories and photos to so we can feature them on our blog and share your experiences with our readers and recognize your helpline.

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Honoring World Cancer Day

iCarol Webinars

Saturday, February 4, 2017 marks World Cancer Day. This year’s theme, “We Can. I Can.” was chosen to inspire individuals and communities to take actions to help prevent and fight cancer.

Empire State Building lit blue and orange in honor of World Cancer Day
Image: Cancer.org
World Cancer Day Empire State Building
According to the American Cancer Society, over 8 million people worldwide die from cancer every year, making cancer a global health priority. This year, communities around the world will hold walks, seminars, and public campaigns to raise awareness and educate others on how to eliminate cancer by taking various steps, including cancer screenings, healthy eating, physical activity, and smoking cessation.

Cancer advocates agree there are certain steps individuals can take to reduce their risk of cancer, including making healthy lifestyle choices, knowing the signs and symptoms, being aware of early detection guidelines, and supporting cancer patients and survivors during and after cancer treatments.

As a community, we can all educate others about the link between lifestyle and cancer, dispel cancer myths, encourage healthy living habits at schools and in the workplace, and improve access to affordable care.

Helplines, warmlines, and information & referral services around the world can mark this occasion by spreading awareness of cancer prevention methods and even incorporating a few health workplace activities at their own organization. Together, we can reduce the global burden of cancer and make fighting cancer a priority in our own communities.

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Join us for Bell Let’s Talk Day

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Wednesday January 25th is a big day for Canadian mental health initiatives: It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day!

This annual event draws attention to mental health, particularly the stigma attached to mental illness that prevents many from seeking help. The idea is that if we all talk more openly about mental health and are open to conversations about it, it will lessen the shame attached to mental illness. Bell also champions access to care, workplace mental health, and research.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, people are encouraged to take to social media and discuss the topics of mental health and mental illness, and use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and watching a video on the Bell Let’s Talk image via Bell’s Facebook page. For participating in these various social media activities using the hashtag, Bell donates $.05 to mental health initiatives and programs across Canada (including many services that are part of the iCarol family!). Bell customers can also participate by texting or making calls. Find out more about how to take part.

To learn more about the impact of Bell Let’s Talk, check out the video below. And check out the Bell Let’s Talk website for more information and a toolkit with everything you need to participate. We hope you’ll follow us on Twitter and Tweet along with us to raise awareness and remove the stigma from the conversation about mental health!

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iCarol Webinar: Assessing Risk of Intimate Partner Violence

Webinars

Your helpline is a trusted source of listening support, and even if you don’t advertise your service as specializing in topics of intimate partner violence or sexual violence, there’s a good chance many of the people that reach you are at risk.

Join us for a free webinar to learn more about using the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA) tool to help assess one’s risk, explore ways to reduce that risk, and provide assistance to your clients.

When: Wednesday January 18, 2017

Time: 1pm EDT

You Will Learn:

  • About different types of risk assessments
  • The goals of using the SARA risk assessment
  • The differences between Dynamic and Static Risk Factors
  • What information should be available to complete an assessment
  • Ideas for implementing use of this tool at your helpline
  • And more!

Presenter: Dustin MacDonald is a Registered Social Service Worker (RSSW) who has been involved with helplines including Distress Centre Durham for the previous 5 years, as well as performing quality assurance, producing analytics and forecasting for the Ontario Online & Text Crisis Services program of Distress and Crisis Ontario. He brings to these roles an understanding of statistics and experience performing a variety of program evaluations and assessments. We’re very pleased to welcome him as our presenter.

We hope you can join us for this webinar!

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Quarterly Enhancement Webinar coming soon

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It’s almost time for our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar, the first of 2017, which will occur on Monday January 9th at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar we’ll review several features released to iCarol in recent months, plus we’ll speak a bit to enhancements coming soon.

These webinars are typically most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Admin or Supervisor security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

This is part of our commitment to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Interested, but can’t make it on the 9th? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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iCarol helps you promote your Giving Tuesday messages

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Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and we know many of you have some great campaigns in the works to generate awareness about your organization, which will hopefully result in donations as well.

We’re extending the offer to help you boost the signal on your Giving Tuesday tweets. Here’s how you can help us retweet you and generate more views for your tweets:

    1. Follow us on Twitter
    2. We’ll follow you back
    3. Be sure to use the official #GivingTuesday hashtag in your tweets
    4. Throughout the day we’ll retweet you to our followers

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to get the word out about your organization and get noticed during this season of charitable giving. We’re looking forward to reading all your great tweets sharing information about the valuable work of your organizations and wish you all lots of success generating interest, awareness, and monetary support for your agency!

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A Call with President Obama on ACA Open Enrollment

White House Logo

We’ve been made aware of the following information that will likely be of interest to helplines across the US, and wanted to pass this information along to you:

You are invited to join a conference call on Thursday, October 27th at 4:30 PM ET with President Barack Obama and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell to discuss the upcoming open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. We encourage you to circulate this invitation to all of your members, volunteers, and partners who will engage in enrollment efforts during the open enrollment period from November 1st to January 31st.

    Call Details
    Date: Thursday, October 27th
    Time: 4:30 PM ET, please join 5-7 minutes early to avoid connection delays
    RSVP: To receive the dial-in information, click HERE. Once you RSVP, a dial-in, participant code, and individual pin will be provided via e-mail.
    This call is off the record and not for press purposes. We look forward to speaking with you on Thursday. Champion for Coverage | Champion@cms.hhs.gov | Centers for Medicare and Medicaid | 200 Independence Ave. SW | Washington, DC 20201

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