WordPress Powers Community in Chastain Park

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We get to hear story after story—from our customers and partners alike—about the positive role WordPress can play in a small business or nonprofit. It’s inspiring to hear about saving loads of time and money; it’s sometimes even more inspiring to hear how people feel empowered to add value to their organization and grow their own skillset.

We’re going to start sharing some of those stories with you in our WordPress Empowerment Series, starting today. We’ve been contacting stand-out organizations and asking them some key questions. You’ll get to see their answers in their own words and be inspired by their experiences.

Today, you’ll hear from Teresa Joel. In our interview, she speaks about her role within her community’s civic association in Atlanta, Georgia, and how their web presence has been amplified from her willingness to learn. You’ll be impressed by how quickly she progressed!

Have your own story to tell? Get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.

Tell us a bit about your organization.

In 1978, the Chastain Park Civic Association was organized to exercise, promote, and protect the privileges and interests of the residents of the Chastain Park Community in the Buckhead neighborhood of the city of Atlanta. We are a non-profit organization with an all-volunteer Board of Directors and committee members.

What’s your role inside of your organization?

I volunteered to take over the role of webmaster for our organization’s website a little over a year ago. Since I inherited the website from a former webmaster that was no longer involved, my goal was to learn about WordPress so that I could redesign the site for ease of use and updates. I attended WordCamp Atlanta in 2016 to learn more about WordPress, of which I knew pretty much nothing. I left that weekend armed with a wealth of new knowledge and new contacts.

I convinced our organization’s Board to change our hosting company to Evermore, so that we could have reliable hosting/updating, but most importantly technical support. I started from scratch with a current version of WordPress, and created a completely new site, with plug-ins recommended by Evermore for easy updates. I recently attended WordCamp Atlanta 2017, and continued my education so that I can add more features to our site.

How does your organization use WordPress?

We have our main marketing message to our users, which is about the benefits of joining the Chastain Park Civic Association, along with supporting our security patrols. We also update our member listings on a regular basis, as well as upcoming events and business sponsors. We rely on our website for members to sign-up and pay for their memberships and other fund-raising events. We link to our organization’s Facebook page and other social media.

How has your organization’s use of WordPress changed over time?

Our previous website used WordPress with its initial theme, however many elements were dependent on HTML code outside of the WordPress theme and plug-ins. The previous site’s WordPress version and plug-ins were not updated on a regular basis, which caused errors. Our site kept running out of memory on our previous hosting server, so complete back-ups could not be done. All of these factors made it difficult for a non-coding person (and volunteer) like me to make changes and updates.

After rebuilding the site through an updated version of WordPress and Evermore, I obviously understand now how the site is organized, and many of the plug-ins I’ve installed make updating information, such as tables, so much easier and timely. And by having Evermore as a technical support source, all I need to do is explain to them what I want to do and they recommend a solution.

When did you personally start using WordPress, and what was that experience?

I personally started using WordPress after attending WordCamp Atlanta 2016. My background was in Project Management for technology clients, so I had managed software developers and teams, but never did any hands-on coding or development.

WordPress makes it so easy to get a website up and running, and the WordPress community is so supportive and responsive, that any issue or question I have is easily answered by doing an internet search on a topic. I have had so many “aha”moments and a great sense of satisfaction by using WordPress to successfully build my organization’s website.

How has your knowledge of and confidence with WordPress changed since you started?

I went from zero to 100 miles per hour within a week’s time of using WordPress. (Or, I should say 100 mph for me but someone else more experienced with WordPress may think I’m only 5 mph!) Everyone at WordCamp Atlanta was so willing to share their experience and wisdom, and made me feel okay for not knowing something. I feel the same way of working with Evermore – they are very kind and respectful of all my beginner’s questions and make me feel like I’m accomplishing what I set out to do.

How has your current WordPress-based website benefitted your organization?

I have shared with other volunteers how to update certain elements on our website, such as our TablePress plug-in, so that I am not the only one who knows how to go into WordPress to make updates (in case I get hit by a truck!) Updates are now made on a daily basis and are live immediately. Our users have easy-to-use forms for making donations through PayPal. Our email lists in MailChimp are automatically updated through our forms. I can update events easily and accurately.

Is there anything else you’d like to share that we didn’t ask about?

I think I have drunken the Koolaid and will always be a WordPress advocate and supporter! I am continually learning and feeling accomplished that I have made a contribution to my neighborhood association by creating and maintaining our website.