Staff Spotlight & Web Page Update - Samantha DeLeon



How and when do you hear of Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference?

I first heard about Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference in an article in the Village Life many years ago, ten years ago! At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers and looking for ways to get involved with the community, other than a moms group. The article mentioned that Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference was looking for adult volunteers. At the time, I wasn’t able to volunteer on the weekends and my kids were too little. I reached out to Jennifer and Tracy (the only staff at the time!) and asked if there was some administrative work I could help them with and with a resounding yes, I was able to do some administrative work on their volunteer system.


I slowly became involved in their marketing efforts because it was a passion of mine and I expressed this to Jennifer, letting her know I could help in these areas, if needed. She asked me to join the adult Marketing Committee. As my kids got a little older, and I got a little more stir crazy and wanted to work outside the home, I told Jennifer I could no longer volunteer because my extra time would go to working. Right then, she asked if a position were to open up with some marketing and design elements, would I be interested in applying. Without hesitation, I said yes. After applying and being accepted, Jennifer added me on as an employee with administrative and communications duties.


A couple years ago, to accommodate my growing (and fully scheduled) family, I took a step back with the organization and am fully now behind the scenes as the creative designer and work project to project.


How long have you been a designer? And where did you learn design?

At heart, I’ve been a designer ever since I could remember. Growing up in the nineties, technology wasn’t as creative (and approachable) as it is today. In my career, I was able to express this love for creativity in various ways, like helping manage the websites, designing marketing materials, training manuals, etc. In 2010, our family moved up here from Southern California after I was laid off and my husband was hired by Sac County. My need for creativity was (so I thought) over since I wasn’t working. I mean, would I really need to create a marketing pamphlet when my child started walking? The thought probably crossed my mind! But then Pinterest was invented! After many failed domestic projects, I was drawn to photography and graphic design pins. I had an entry level SLR camera and a computer, and became obsessed with both. I started teaching myself the art of design. This was between 2010 to 2011. In 2012, I started photographing people other than my own family and most recently in 2018, I started freelancing as a creative designer. To learn more about what I do, please visit me at www.samdeleoncreative.com.


Where did you go to school?

I grew up in Southern California and went to college down there. I graduated with a BA in Human Communications.


Tell us about your kids and their involvement with the organization?

We now have three kids, daughter Jordan age 13, daughter Annie age 10 and son Rusty age 6. Years ago, both my daughters were involved in the pilot Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference Elementary Club (which unfortunately had to end). Since moving onto Rolling Hills Middle School, my oldest daughter has been involved with the RHMS Hands4Hope Club. My middle daughter is excited to join her when she moves onto middle school next year.

ABOUT OUR WEBSITE


Which year did you design our initial website?

I believe in late 2017, early 2018, after working on our communications efforts, I immediately took notice that our website and the platform we were using was EXTREMELY un-user friendly. I had some website management abilities from my past career and I was able to manage it, but found the design wasn’t friendly for either the front and back end users. We had so much to offer and our website didn’t reflect that. Around this time, I also started a photography business and had started my own website that was super easy to design and use. After researching other platforms, I found just the right one for Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference to use. I approached Jennifer with this idea and after she conferred with the Board, they approved to have me design a new website for Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference.


How did you start it and what changes/platforms/ease of use have been incorporated over the years leading up to now?

The initial process was exciting, I love learning new things and designing, so it was so much fun creating a new website for such a great organization. I wanted the website to represent the organization well and reach all of our markets, both youth and adults alike. Since 2018, we’ve revamped the website a couple times to add more features and make it more user friendly, mobile friendly and modern. Most recently, we had some major issues with search ability and had been told more than a few times that our website was hard to navigate. With this in mind, I redesigned our homepage to make it easier to navigate, especially for those newer to the organization.


What plans are in the works for future updates and tell us about the plans for the New Club and Committee Pages?


As of now, I am looking to redo the design to make it more cohesive to our brand and to ensure it’s succinct throughout each page. That said, we don’t know what we don’t know, so the best way to improve something is by hearing what’s wrong with it. We were told many times that the website wasn’t easy to navigate, herein, I was able to improve specifically what the viewers wanted. I really appreciate any feedback, big or small, to help us improve the website. If you do find issues with our website, feel free to email us at info@Hands4Hope Differenyouth.org.


In addition, Nicole, our Program Director, reached out to me and asked if we could create something that each school club could use to market their club and projects. Sort of like mini websites, so to speak. With the platform we’ve been using, we were able to make it work! We now have a New Club and Committee section that are like mini websites for each club and their projects. I was able to teach Nicole and her team how to manage and update each page, and they will be able to teach and mentor the youth to manage it as well. This is a great opportunity for the youth to learn behind the scenes of running a project online.