The State JournalState Journal
By Cynthia McCloud

A West Virginia charitable organization could win free website services for one year from Bricks Without Straw, a Charleston internet marketing and website design firm.

For the second year, Bricks Into Straw founder Jamie Summers-Brown is seeking a beneficiary for his partnership program, the Frank Brown Community Trust. Summers-Brown, a winner of The State Journal's 2014 Generation Next: 40 Under 40 award, said he named it for his grandfather, from whom he learned philanthropy.

“My grandfather was very influential in my life and I picked up a lot of his philosophies and mannerisms in regards to how you want to treat other people,” Summers-Brown said.

He got the idea for the business when he was referred to some charities he had never heard of that had no websites or sites that aren't consistently maintained.

“Charitable organizations not only need financial support, but they need volunteers in so many other aspects and functions,” Summers-Brown said. “By providing technology services for an organization that may not have the funds or expertise to do so, we hope to open a portal to the world for the project's recipients, enabling them to better help fellow West Virginians.

“What we want to try to do for our clients is take the burden of this off of them so they can do what they do best,” he said. “We feel like we have a great service and that's what we do best.”

Depending on the organization's needs, Bricks Without Straw will design and develop a first website or redevelop an existing brand and website. Frequently, the designers add an important feature: a way for people to donate money online. The firm also provides help developing a social media presence, and it hosts the site for free – even after the year is up.

Qualifying nonprofits that are approved by the State of West Virginia and have offices and/or headquarters in West Virginia can apply at http://www.brickswithoutstraw.com/community.html and tell why they would be good candidates for the web services.

Applications must be received no later than Dec. 31, and Bricks Without Straw will choose an agency or group within 15 days of the deadline.

The first official year of the program was 2014, and Bricks Without Straw selected the Bob Burdette Center on Charleston's West Side.

“It's been very helpful,” said Loren Friend Farmer, executive director of the Bob Burdette Center. “Before we applied for the partnership we had just started our first website; it was one I did, a build-your-own. It wasn't very functional. It wasn't nearly as filled out as the one Jamie did for us.
"I've gotten a lot of good comments about how well it's laid out. It's very clean and easy to find things on it. We were able to have a good website where we can send our parents, donors and community members to and they get a really good look at what it is we can do day-to-day.”

The center operates its programs in local churches. The main site, Emmanuel Baptist Church on the West Side of Charleston, is where the program started. After school, children get a snack, homework assistance and tutoring, supervised free time and a variety of enrichment programming.

Farmer said the website is a good tool for recruiting volunteers as well as posting job openings for paid staff. The center has three full-time staff members in addition to about 12 or so part-time staff.

“Our organization has been around for 16 years but we don't have a lot of publicity,” Farmer said. “Not a lot of people know about us even though we're serving 100 kids in the West Side area. It's good to have a good website that can help boost our presence both locally and in larger areas.”

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.