The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2012, March 24-25

The Windmill Project

Federal and state grants in 1990 resulted in regional projects throughout Minnesota to provide families support so their children with disabilities could be raised at home rather than placed in institutions. The original focus was on families with young children; efforts for families with older children were added in 1992. The Windmill Project name emerged in 1993, and local parent-to-parent teams were added for nine counties and regional coordination. When federal and state grants ended in 1995, regional and local components continued with funding from state mandated Interagency Early Intervention Committees (IEICs).

Since 2003 local parent efforts have faded except those receiving support from United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. After the regional office closed in January 2004, the process to form an independent nonprofit organization began. Windmill obtained a Certificate of Incorporation and began operating as an independent entity in October 2004. A determination letter in March 2005 declared Windmill Project exempt from Federal income tax and qualified to receive tax deductible gifts as a 501(c)(3) organization. An all-volunteer Board of Directors oversees the operations and a home office keeps overhead costs to a minimum.

What new functionality we are looking for

1) We want our website to be user-friendly; users are family members, donors and partners (or potential partners).

2) We want a structure that is easy to navigate so visitors can easily find what they are looking for.

3) We want to be able to accept donations and event registrations online.

4) We want a site where we can manage some of the content.

5) We want a design that evokes interest and compassion while telling our story on every page.

6) We want our information to be relevant and meaningful.

7) We want a site that is equipped with tools that visitors can use to engage with our organization.

8) We may want the capacity to offer webinars through our site.

9) We want the site to reflect compassion, encouragement and energy.

10) We want a site that helps connect family members with others who are facing similar situations so they can get ideas that may help them overcome obstacles and turn challenges into opportunities.

How the new functionality will help

Computers with internet access are being used by more individuals and families, even in rural areas and by low income families.

1) A new website will improve our ability to provide family members with relevant and accurate information.

2) Websites and email can be used to promote and maintain peer networks even when time is a scarce commodity and geographic distance creates obstacles to face-to-face meetings. It would be great to see the website help develop peer networks for siblings and for children/youth with disabilities so they can communicate with someone who really understands what they are experiencing and feeling.

3) Partners and potential partners can discover what our organization does and why it is important.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_windmillbefore Thumbnail_windmillafter

9 Messages from Supporters

2012-02-24 22:53:58 UTC

I want to strongly encourage you to select The Windmill Project in your website challenge.

The Windmill Project is a great addition to the community (Douglas County & surrounding areas). They offer resources and support for families of children with disabilities. Many of these parents/grandparents/siblings feel isolated and like no one understands what life is like for them. You may even know a friend or family member who is in a similar situation. The Windmill Project is able to help these family members feel less alone and encourages them to be advocates for their child/grandchild/sibling.

They have had the current site for a number of years, and it shows by how dated it is. I will give them lots of praise as they work to update content (upcoming events, photos) but a facelift and more user friendly navigation would allow The Windmill Project to reach and support even more families. They recently updated their logo and branched out into Social Media. Facebook has provided another way for the Windmill Project to reach, support and encourage families in the community.

The Windmill Project is actively seeking and applying for grants to help fund various events for parents and families. By having an updated and easy to use site this could only help them secure and attract more donors. MOST importantly, a new site will allow them to continue their mission of connecting families to each other, resources and services.

Thank you for your time and your consideration

2012-02-25 17:48:48 UTC
JoAnn Boorman

Please choose the Windmill Project for a website update. They run on a shoestring and are vitally important to the community!

Imagine your child, grandchild or a child you love having special needs and disabilities. Imagine the pain, the fear for that child's future, the hurt and and sadness for family members. Imagine a place that provides support, referrals, understanding and hope. That is the Windmill Project!
When our granddaughter was diagnoised with Aspergers, we needed to learn more, we did not understand many of her behaviors. My husband and I attended a Windmill Project workshop several years ago and learned, first of all, that there were many other families dealing with similar or even tougher disabilities. That was huge for us, and actually helped us to feel gratitude and also hope for this child we love. We borrowed a book about Aspergers which led me to the bookstore for more reading material. We have learned to better understand and appreciate this bright little girl, and we have become more effective grandparents.

2012-02-26 19:51:05 UTC

Please consider the Windmill Project for the website makeover. Thier organization does not have the budget for promotion and the physical location to increase thier visiblity that other organizations have. However, thier services are so important for families with children with disabilities. They connect families with other families for support, are a resource for families and organizations that work with families and a strong voice of advocacy for children with disabilities. An updated website would allow them to more effectively reach families and have the "round the clock" presence that is so necessary.

2012-02-29 00:58:57 UTC
Carol Wenner

The Windmill Project is a valued and much needed service in the region. They are a vital communication link for families with children that have disabilites. The Windmill Project is there if a family needs information on services, a platform to share, or a new level of understanding about a family member that may be experiencing changed behavior or coping issues. Choose the Windmill Project for your website challenge so they can deliver even more understanding and hope to those they serve.

2012-02-29 22:33:01 UTC
Brian Biymers

The windmill project has been Strongly linked to the community and families with children with disabilities. Helping provide ways to connect with each other To develop strong working relationships Which may otherwise not happen. The windmill project is on a shoestring budget as funding has been cut over the years we do currently have a working website however making it more user friendly in link and more excessable would help increase the function and mission of windmill project. Please consider us for the website work over thank you-

2012-03-01 22:51:46 UTC
Dave Anderson

I put together the current website with a major focus on affordability. This organization does such amazing work and I'm proud to have been associated with them for many years. I've often thought that a lot more could be done with their website so I truly hope this great organization gets selected. They are touching many lives and making hope a possibility.

2012-03-03 01:20:01 UTC
Betsy Sathers

I can’t even begin to say enough kind words about the Windmill Project. The team there has been so helpful and encouraging. As a Mom to 4-year-old twins with special needs the organization was just what I needed. There is so much to figure out and coordinate as a parent not to mention a parent of a special needs child. Trying to navigate all the new territory of IEP’s, PCA’s, Diagnosis, Sensory Issues was all-new to me. Add in sleep deprivation and very ACTIVE kids I did not know where to begin. It was wonderful to have other parents to help encourage me and give me tips of what has worked and where they have struggled.

I’m so excited at the thought of a new website for Windmill. As a parent it would be such a huge help to access information anytime of the day or night. It would be very beneficial to have a place to seek resources and exchange information with other parents. Thanks so much for considering them!

2012-03-02 04:06:33 UTC
Barb Friederichs

With a more user-friendly website family members, donors and partners will find ways to become involved with the Windmill organization. An improved site can help connect family members with others in similar circumstances and show them they are not alone. Social media has become an important tool for people. Improving the Windmill website with an update/upgrade would attract young families with needs. Anyway Windmill can improve their visability and get the word out to families in need of support will benefit the children with special needs by strengthening families. We discovered Windmill approximately 20 years ago and appreciated the support we have gotten all the years of raising our children. With 2 of 3 children having special needs, and very different disabilities, Windmill provided us with connections for trainings, networking, and resources we wouldn't have found otherwise. Windmill has a skeleton budget. Please consider Windmill for your website project.

2012-03-03 01:10:55 UTC

Over the past 15 years the Windmill Project has provided opportunity for education, information, support and just plain fun for our family and many other families in West Central Minnesota. These opportunities would likely not be available in this rural area were it not for their hard work and dedication. A new web page would be a great help to them in continuing their mission. From all the parents they have helped and supported over the past few decades,and and all though that have yet to be helped in the future, THANK YOU in advance! I know you will see they are the most deserving.

Our Mission

The Windmill Project connects families of children with special needs and disabilities to each other and to appropriate resources and services. Families of children with special needs and disabilities—despite income or educational level, race, culture or religion--need information about the disability, its effects and severity. They are often unaware of or confused about what services are available and how to obtain them. They often feel overwhelmed, drained, discouraged and isolated. Since there is no way to really understand such challenges without actually experiencing them, The Windmill Project relies on family members to reach out to one another. Information is provided one-on-one or in small groups, through workshops, print or video materials, using email, websites and webinars. Developing peer networks provides emotional support and mutual encouragement as well as providing opportunities for informal mentoring and friendships. The Project works to open new doors of opportunity by building partnerships with organizations, groups, businesses and individuals in our communities. This helps to raise awareness and understanding of the impact disabilities have on individuals and families.