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Digital Media Students Partner With Anchor House for Web Design Project


WEST WINDSOR – Mercer County Community College Digital Media Arts students received more than advanced instruction in web design this past semester – they were given an opportunity to make a difference in the community.

"This course involves going out and working with a client designing a website, and we wanted to choose a local, not-for-profit," said Mary Finlayson, instructor for Web Design III. "The idea here was to learn how to work on a team and in the real world."

The class chose to design a comprehensive website for Anchor House, a Trenton-based not-for-profit that provides food, emergency housing, and clothing for hundreds of runaway and homeless teens each year. Through outreach programs, Anchor House works to reunite families and when that is not possible, the organization finds safe alternatives and provides the skills necessary for independent living.

"Anchor House worked well as a partner (for this project)," Finlayson said. "They gave us their requirements, and worked with us in meeting those requirements."

Anchor House Web Design Team

Members of the team that helped develop a new website for Anchor House include, from left to right: Sarah Sweeney, coordinator of Mercer's Digital Media Arts program, DMA students Karen Smith, Dylan Havens, Catherine Martinez, John Ng, Laci Robinson, Harmon Jenkins, Elin Fidele, Shawn Khan, Andrew Maldonado; Claire Walton, Anchor House Volunteer Coordinator; Mercer Adjunct Professor Mary Finlayson, Web Design instructor; Mereides Delgado, Anchor House Director of Aging Out Youth Services; and DeWayne H. Tolbert, President of Anchor House Board.


Mereides Delgado, director of aging out youth services for Anchor House, served as the organization’s liaison with the web design students. She said this was the first time Anchor House worked with local web designers, and she couldn’t be more pleased.

"They have been so patient," Delgado said. "They worked very hard to get everything up and running."
Key to the design was giving existing staff at Anchor House the ability to update the site internally, which was done with a WordPress content management platform. This makes it possible to quickly update calendar information, events, and news items.

"Nowadays, the website is the first face people see of your organization," Delgado said. "A lot of the features built in here will help us keep current on what’s happening and what’s available. It serves our population. You really want it to be actively used."

Delgado said the new site will be extremely helpful in communicating with supporters, stakeholders, and most importantly, the population Anchor House serves. And considering the budgetary challenges most not-for-profits are facing in today’s economy, she said this opportunity couldn’t have come along at a better time.

"It’s very difficult to find the dollars to do something like this," Delgado said. "This was a godsend for us."

The Anchor House Board of Directors approved the new website, which went online the first week in October. Visit the Anchor House website at www.anchorhousenj.org.




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