The Aunt Bertha Blog

Our Values

  1. We believe everybody should be able to find program information in seconds.
  2. We believe people can and will help themselves with the right tools.
  3. We believe that data shows patterns that can help prevent suffering.
  4. We believe organizations and communities want better ways to work together.
  5. We believe software should never get in the way of helping people.
Topics: entrepreneur company values start-up conscious business social responsibility purpose

NASW Conference 2011

Aunt Bertha loves a good party, especially when it's for do-gooders from all over the great state of Texas!

The National Association of Social Worker-Texas 2011 Annual Conference is around the corner.

October 8th-11th to be exact!

This conference will include inspirational stories of courage and resilience, discuss the opportunities and challenges of the new economy for social workers, and networking with the leaders in the business of hope!

Come join more than 1,000 of your social work colleagues at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel! This year’s conference will include the following tracks:

• Behavioral & Mental Health

• Health/Medical

• Child, Family & Schools

• Professional/Career

• Community

• Social Work Education

• Aging/Disabilities


You will have the opportunity to expand your skills through targeted training in diagnosis and assessment tools, Mediation, and Dynamics of Family Violence, and that always important topic... ethics! This year they will again be providing licensing review courses for the LBSW and LMSW exams.

The exhibit hall will provide you with the opportunity to meet with vendors who provide services to your clients or hire social workers. Whether you work in an agency or in independent practice you will benefit from knowing the resources and opportunities available in Texas.

You will receive a complimentary brunch on Saturday, complimentary networking lunch on Sunday, and the NASW/Texas Board of Directors will host a complimentary reception on Sunday to honor the annual social work award winners. You’ll then be ready to head out on the town for dinner with your colleagues! 

Register Here

Topics: human services policy houston data foundations

Visting UPLIFT: Hope In Action

There is a big difference between talking about something and actually doing it. Last Tuesday we volunteered at a church in downtown Austin that provides a food pantry, as well as case management services and other basic needs assistance to people who need it. It was fantastic!

I have always loved volunteering, but I was super nervous about this particular morning because I hadn’t ever volunteered in this way before. I was worried that I might get in the way more than I would help, and I was nervous about meeting new people. If I had listened to the fears that were rolling around inside of me that morning I would not have volunteered at all. As it turned out, I was able to meet some of the most amazing, charitable individuals; people that are willing to give some of their time and love to those in need every week.

I was especially touched by the attention that was given to every child who came to the church that morning. In the storage area where the volunteers keep shelves full of food, carts of hygiene items, and bags full of other miscellaneous supplies for those who need it, there is a special box devoted to collecting toys and stuffed animals for all the children who come in to the church. Bobbi, the woman who we coordinated with to volunteer that day, keeps a watchful eye on the entrances to the church for all the little ones that enter. The minute she spots a child she comes back to her box of goodies and picks out a toy especially for them. This alone was heart-melting for me to witness because I have four younger siblings that mean the world to me. To know that there is someone else who shares that same kind of love and care with children that aren’t even a part of her own family brought a smile to my heart. I was thrilled too when Bobbi, in her own words, asked if I would “like the pleasure” of picking out a toy and giving it to a little girl who came in with her mother that morning. I walked back to the cardboard treasure box and dug around in it until I found a little, down-soft teddy bear that was fully equipped with angel wings and a halo. The little girl was probably about 3 years old and only came up to her mother’s knee. She was very shy so when I walked over to her she was hiding behind her mom’s legs, but even so I could see the grin that spread across her face when I handed her the toy.

At Aunt Bertha, we want to empower people to help each other, and help themselves. I research programs for Aunt Bertha and try to write the benefit, eligibility, and application information in a way that will be the most helpful for our visitors. I have been writing these descriptions hoping that I was doing so in a way that would enable people to get the help they need. But, until we volunteered, I had never gone out to meet and talk with the people that we are trying to reach. It was inspiring to finally go out and volunteer because I was able to meet some of the people who are regularly out there helping, talking with, and listening to people in need. I will definitely be going back, and I whole-heartedly encourage anyone reading this to take the leap and volunteer if you have the time. Remember, even if all you do is smile next time you make eye-contact with someone or take an extra minute to really listen to them, it can help.

Lyn is the lead technical writer at Aunt Bertha. She is a student at Austin Community College trying to choose between Kinesiology, Elementary Education, or Art/Design, if she could have a hybrid of the three that would be perfect.
Topics: the life of a startup volunteerism homeless austin poverty helping food pantry food bank personal experience

3 Mistakes and Failing Forward

Aunt Bertha is an older woman, but a young company.

I'm a young social worker, turned community manager.

Building community has been around forever.

I have a lot to learn. 

As we begin to develop relationships over shared interest in service delivery, technology, and providing equal access to need-based programs, we can't help but be humbled by our mistakes.
Shirley Ayres, an UK innovator in social work and new media, recently shared the concept of failing forward. The ability to make a mistake and take it as an opportunity to step up. A crucial element in any organization that seeks to provide quality service and build community. These are some early communication mistakes and how I stepped up:

  1. Inform someone about their own community: One of my jobs as community manager besides creating the strategy around our online content and presence is reaching out to individuals and organizations that we would love to work with. I reached out to a School of Social Work Dean. No small potatoes. The Dean was gracious, thoughtful, and considerate, even though my message implied that her community was lacking the program search support that Aunt Bertha provides. Big Mistake. The school had an active web based program search directory, it was well-organized, client-facing, and the School of Social work was already working with organization.
    LessonListen First. Always do your research.
  2. Ignore the data: In therapy, we say: "The client is the expert on their story. "We co-create. Yet, when it came down to our project team removing the e-mail wall(individuals could not access the site without entering their e-mail initially), I was totally against it. I kept talking about conversion, building a tribe, and having a way to update users on our website instantly. I wanted to collect everything. Even though the data showed that people were leaving our website as soon as they reached the e-mail page. I still argued for an e-mail requirement. Finally, the wisdom of our team prevailed and we gave folks access to our program search immediately without obligation.
    Lesson: Trust the process. The community will always tell you what they want.
    Don't ignore data!
  3. Multi-Tasking: It was just like any other day for a community manager, I was: writing a blog, updating twitter, researching my followers, reading about evidence-based practice, while eating a sandwich, when I came across some startling information. It appeared that my twitter followers had increased by 500% in one day. Never being one to waste an opportunity, I quickly began thanking my fan base for the support. 50 tweets down "my" list I realized that this follower list belonged to someone else.

It took 15 minutes to clean up my mess and a week to learn the lesson. Focus.

Lesson: Focus.You will always do a better job by paying attention. Quality matters.

How have you failed forward in your personal or professional life?

Use hashtag: #failforward to continue this discussion on twitter.

Be sure to vote for our panel at #sxsw: The Human Cost of Failed Gov't Tech

 is the community manager at Aunt Bertha
Topics: online community building community content management social media community manager

Aunt Bertha Achieves B Corp Certification!

When we started Aunt Bertha, we thought long and hard about what sort of organizational governance would maximize the positive difference we could make on people's lives. We wanted to build an organization that was self-sustaining and would stay true to our original mission of making human service information more accessible to those in need. We believe we've found just the right governance structure.

B Corporations are a new kind of company which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Certified B Corporations meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The performance standards are comprehensive and transparent.  They measure a company’s impact on its employees, suppliers, community, and the environment. Unlike traditional corporations, Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment.

We are proud to be a Certified B CorporationTM and look forward to contributing to such a diverse and interesting community of organizations.