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SQL MVP Arnie Rowland recently took three free VSTS MSDN subscriptions, that he received last year from the MVP Award Program, and used them to entice others into charitable work.

Arnie had been wondering what to do with the MSDN VSTS subscription cards that he received from the MVP Award Program. He decided to reach out into his local community and offer them to charitable volunteers in return for pro bono, non-profit work. He reached out to his community and asked others to volunteer their time and energy to create a website for the non-profit, the Riverside Training Center. The Riverside Training Center in St. Helens, Oregon, provides a workshop and group homes for disabled adults.

Arnie is currently seeking out other agencies that may also have small projects needing attention. The Riverside Training Center does not have the budget for small projects like this, but could benefit from the skills of those in Arnie’s community.

He has volunteered networked computer support to the Center since 2004, and is in the process of getting all six of the homes online and connected to the office. Enabling the homes to go online will increase the staff’s productivity, reduce issue/problem wait time, and reduce the paper flow.

What had started out as an effort to exchange the MSDN VSTS subscriptions to a single charity, has now evolved into a Distributed Team Development Special Interest Group (SIG).

Arnie states, “We have extended our membership, and several folks participate in order to learn and experience the coordination and communication struggles of distributed development. We are now extending the offer to other non-profits, and participants are building software projects that have real meaning and real value –all the while learning real-world skills. The Distributed Team Development group appears to be turning into a self-sustaining endeavor. All in all, it has been an excellent investment for the VSTS subscriptions”.