by Toni Shortsleeve

I made it to NYC and celebrated with freeCodeCamp on my Outreachy journey

The music was staged on the block just before the freeCodeCamp party site

I am proud to have been chosen as one of freeCodeCamp’s 2018 Top Contributors, and to have been invited to the celebration in New York. I am also very thankful that Outreachy sponsored my travel so that as an Outreachy Intern, I could attend this awesome event.

I arrived late the night before, and left early the following morning. So, I’d just like to share with you what happened on Saturday, August 18, 2018 — in Brooklyn, New York.

One of the plans I had for this visit included a live meetup with one of my LibreHealth mentors. Sadly, he was not able to connect with me during my short visit — but I am happy to say that he is now feeling better. So instead, I toured the neighborhood and prepared for the party.

The event was held at Rough Draft NYC on Hooper Street in Brooklyn. I was to arrive a little early to assist in the setup for the party. I took a Lyft to get there, and I was running about a half-hour early. Since I didn’t know the area — and my driver didn’t either — I was a little concerned about where to hang out while I was waiting to meet the others.

The worries were unfounded, however, and as it turned out, there was no problem…

A Pre-Party!

My driver turned left — and stopped. He said “I can’t go any farther, but you can walk to the end of this block and it’s across the street”. He was stopped by a block party! The band sounded good, children were laughing and playing, and the food smelled great. Then a lady announced “Last Call for Cotton Candy” and gave me a free stick of pink cotton candy!

It was great! I ate my treat and listened to some great sounds while I waited for the others to arrive. They began to move tents and take down tables, so I decided to explore the rest of the neighborhood.

Meeting up

As I crossed the street, I saw two other top contributors, Gwen Faraday and Matt Potter, chatting in front of the venue. Gwen has written some articles that I’ve enjoyed reading (check out her most recent one on Resources I Used to Teach Myself Blockchain Development) so I was excited to meet her.

Matt makes us look great on the YouTube channel. This channel has almost everything for anyone — at every level.

Then the car pulled up with Quincy Larson, Abbey Rennemeyer, Beau Carnes and Stuart Taylor.

Quincy Larson is the founder of the freeCodeCamp and the reason I became involved in the first place. He’s also my mentor on the Medium platform.

And, he created the Top Contributors list that brought us all together for the party! Thank you Quincy ?

Abbey manages the content for our freeCodeCamp Medium publication and podcast. She is great to work with. She keeps all us volunteer editors in line and quickly responds to questions for the authors or about the articles. I enjoy her feedback on my articles.

Beau teaches JavaScript (among many other things!) on the YouTube channel. Great place to go if you get lost in learning to code.

Stuart is from England and currently lives in Ireland. I love to listen to his voice. He worked on our beta curriculum platform and coded the freeCodeCamp Guide.

We all walked to the local store a few blocks away to pick up a few extra supplies for the party. It was a great chance to catch-up and connect.

When we returned to Rough Draft, we saw the tents and chairs had been moved to create a mini-concert area where the block party had been held. We were going to have great sounds for the night!

Setting up

We met with the manager, Alison Zullo who showed us around as we prepared to set up. And Ethan Arrowood, our Python instructor, arrived just in time to help.

Stuart was helping Abigail prepare the badge table
Ethan had a willing smile for everyone who asked for his help during set up
Quincy was in his corner preparing
Ready to go Live!
It’s almost Party Time!

Party Time!

Now the guests began arriving, and the energy was great!

The guests are arriving!

I was happy to meet Johnny Bizzel, who is my coding hero for his help in the forum — he got my Tic-Tac-Toe game to stop cheating. Without him, it may have taken years for me to get my front-end certificate.

Bill Sourour is another author I love to work with. My favorite of his works is Don’t do it at runtime. Do it at design time.

Greg Smith and Auriel Leslie are wonderful moderators on the freeCodeCamp Forum. They give guidance to us lost campers with simple explanations in English, and a positive attitude.

Jesse Weigel has a great sense of humor. He walks us through his coding fun and mishaps on YouTube.

I also met a lot of study group leaders. They were each fascinating to talk to, and so excited about what they are doing.

My first Camper hero, Rafael Rodriguez was also in New York. He was one of the first people I followed and looked to for guidance. His code is so smooth and the logic makes sense. I felt that if my projects could ever be as good and readable as his, I could do anything. I was glad to see him, but was totally tongue-tied. I did manage to chat with him for a moment later in the evening.

Jennifer Bland is another member of our Editing Team. We weren’t sure she could make it, so I was thrilled to see her.

The attending freeCodeCamp Editing Team — Quincy, me, Jennifer and Abbey

As the party was under way, Quincy made it a point to meet everyone. Some of us were interviewed for the live stream.

The condensed video can be seen here:

My interview was at 15:21 until 18:58. We discussed how I became involved with freeCodeCamp as an editor, how my basic editing schedule works, and how the lessons I’ve learned as a freeCodeCamp editor have helped me to become an Outreachy intern. Quincy and I totally agreed that Outreachy is a great organization. But I was stumped as to whether it was part of Mozilla…

Note: I found out later that while Outreachy offers a great opportunity for those wanting to work with Mozilla, just as I work with LibreHealth, it is actually a child of the parent organization Software Freedom Conservancy.

And I do know that Outreachy has been instrumental in helping women and underrepresented individuals find paid internships and work in the tech industry. If you haven’t yet, and are interested, sign up to be placed on their announcements list. The new session starts on September 10.


And for everyone who wants to learn to code, become certified, and work in the tech industry, freeCodeCamp is the place to do it. The curriculum is good, the videos are great, the forum and chat rooms are helpful, and the Medium publication always has informative articles.

During the party I received a text from my husband. It said “I joined freeCodeCamp. Only 1408 Coding challenges to go!” Yay, I brought in a new camper! ?

I didn’t expect to be honored for doing something I enjoy. I appreciate the award, and also the privilege to travel here. I met some of my first and greatest heroes. It was nice to be recognized as me, “Oh, you’re Koni Kodes!”

It was amazing to see what all is involved in an online free open source educational community — and to meet some of the people who are making it worthwhile.

Thank you for joining me in New York. Next time we’ll continue our Outreachy Journey as I prepare to wrap-up my internship.

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