The Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia is the philanthropic arm of the West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians. The Foundation, a 501c-3 charitable organization, funds scholarships for West Virginia medical students in need, who aspire to practice family medicine in the state. An integral part of the Foundation’s mission is to develop and provide philanthropic resources that support family medicine.

Established in 1982, the Foundation hosts an annual conference that updates health care professionals throughout the region on the diagnosis and treatment of common medical problems. Donations from individuals and a variety of sponsorships enable the Foundation to carry out its primary mission:  to improve the quality of health care for West Virginia through the promotion and practice of family medicine.

The Pandemic “Push”

“Covid really pushed us out of our comfort zone,” says Johnna Gaunch, one of three program coordinators for the Foundation. “Our biggest fundraiser of the year is a continuing medical education conference, which we’d always held in-person. With Covid, we saw that many conferences were being cancelled, but we didn’t want to cancel our primary way to raise funds for scholarships.” The Foundation staff decided to upgrade their website to make it more accessible and functionally adequate for hosting a hybrid conference that would enable in-person and online attendees to participate fully.

Having previously worked with Jamie and his team at Bricks Without Straw, the Foundation staff reached out to him to start the monumental task of upgrading the extremely outdated website. The first fundamental change was to switch to a faster, more efficient server.  Johnna notes that this initial change prompted additional upgrades – minor and major – that greatly improved website accessibility. “We did things like change our email address, which was really long.” And one major change was to convert their registration process to a completely online experience.

“We were behind in making our annual conference accessible,” Johnna explains. “When I joined the organization, everything was still being done on paper. We had a huge database of addresses, and we did thousands of mailings – very expensive, and not efficient.” Prior to the upgrade, conference registration required staff to allocate precious funding and time hand-delivering bundles of printed brochures to hospitals and doctors’ offices to promote their extremely important annual event.

Jamie completed the online registration according to all the needs specified by the staff.  “Conference attendees could find everything online just as easily as though they were filling out a piece a paper. Registration happened so much quicker, and for the first time, people could register and pay online at the same time, and the funds went straight to our PayPal account.” 

Johnna notes that the streamlined registration process made a world of difference in customer experience and the Foundation’s overall operation. “Online registration was much safer for us financially, not having to worry about handling checks. It also made things easier for our attendees. People were so happy with the convenience.”

Making Hybrid a New Reality

Preparing for a hybrid conference required more than online registration, and the faster server paved the way for additional upgrades. “Our website needed to become a central hub of information,” Johnna observes. “Rather than receiving a conference notebook full of paper materials, our attendees would need to access all our materials online. We needed to make the site more user-friendly in such a way that our conference could succeed.” 

Toward this end, Jamie proceeded with moving the scholarship and grant applications, partnership information, and a donation page online. Matt Walker, another program coordinator for the Foundation, highlights the value and immediate impact of making the website suitable for hosting a hybrid conference. “Jamie incorporated a Zoom option so that people could attend the conference remotely, and he made it possible for us to share conference materials online. Attendees could also complete their conference evaluations digitally.”

Matt notes that the move to a hybrid conference has perhaps forever changed the way that the Family Medicine Foundation operates by enabling them to open their doors to a broader audience. “The hybrid conference is really a necessity for us moving forward. It allows us to cast a wider net to providers around the country who may want to participate. We can now open our conference up to the whole country because our accreditation is national, and physicians from out of state can obtain their continuing education accreditation this way.”

A Meaningful Process

The staff at the Family Medicine Foundation of WV relied on Jamie, who delivered for them. “I get to work with a lot of different vendors because of the conference,” notes Johnna, “and Jamie’s one of my favorite people to work with, not only because he’s responsive and does a good job, but he obviously cares about what he does.” And according to Mark, “Our engagement and communication has really improved since Jamie’s gotten involved with us. He brought a lot of great ideas, and his work brought the Foundation to another level in terms of our new digital capabilities.”

Bricks Without Straw is a digital agency and design agency based in South Charleston, WV United States and Ota, Tokyo, Japan.

We offer a range of web design services including: web development, e-commerce services and email marketing. We also offer a range of graphic design services including logo design and exhibition stands.

We love working with clients of all sizes in a range of industry sectors, creating and implementing inspiring and hard working concepts and campaigns for business-business and business-consumer clients.

Valicia Leary

Bricks Without Straw has continued to exceed our expectations with their design work, support and attention to detail. We would highly recommend their services. They have a wonderful team and we enjoy our working relationship with them.

Carol Fulks

Bricks Without Straw has continued to exceed our expectations with their design work, support and attention to detail. We would highly recommend their services. They have a wonderful team and we enjoy our working relationship with them.

Patti Hamliton

Bricks Without Straw is bringing our association into the 21st Century! He brings us ideas and innovation for our web site and other tools of technology that help us enhance our image and our message.

Rebecca McPhail

Bricks Without Straw has continued to exceed our expectations with their design work, support and attention to detail. We would highly recommend their services. They have a wonderful team and we enjoy our working relationship with them.

Bill Raney

Jamie is one of the most committed and energetic professionals we have ever worked with over the years. He seems to work all the time with full 24-7 accessibility and immediate response. Bricks Without Straw has raised our collective confidence for maximizing opportunities in today’s world. We simply could not have done it without them.

Jan Vineyard

The demands and responsibilities to our members mandate that the online presence of our associations and our internet capabilities are reliable and seamless. Add creativity to that mix and one gets the complete package with Jamie Summers-Brown and his staff at Bricks without Straw.