About the Organization

Covenant House was established as a small nonprofit in 1981 for the purpose of providing a very real safety net to people who have the fewest resources available to them. The organization’s basic mission is to offer direct services to people in need. Its many programs include a food pantry, clothing center, housing assistance, and health care resources and referrals for the LGBTQ community. Covenant House is dedicated to making social justice a reality through its efforts to eradicate hunger, homelessness, and poverty.

The organization is the recipient of a state grant to develop a dynamic approach to reduce tobacco use by the LGBTQ community – a community that, because of its vulnerability, has been targeted by the tobacco industry. Funded through the Department of Health and Human Resources Division of Tobacco Prevention, the grant required Covenant House to develop a comprehensive resource to help diminish tobacco use within the LGBTQ community. That resource is Dr. Rainbow, an innovative website designed by Jamie Summers-Brown.

Up Against the Wall

Covenant House moved forward with their grant-funded task by initially hiring a web design contractor who was unprofessional and delinquent. “They began working on ourproject and then just stopped talking to us,” explains Ellen Allen, executive director. “I think they were unprepared and just didn’t know how to implement what we needed.” Both Ellen and David Bennett, assistant director, thought of Jamie because of the high-quality work he had delivered to another nonprofit organization; so, they reached out to him.

“It was important for us to have something well-done and professional, and the cost factor mattered,” says David. “We also knew that Jamie had a heart for our type of work.” Ellen and David had high hopes when they contacted Jamie, and he immediately responded.

“We were really in a bind,” Ellen recalls, “and then Jamie stepped in and kind of saved us.” Jamie didn’t create the website but recreated its look and feel based on input from Covenant House staff. According to Ellen, “We had an end product in mind, but we didn’t know how to get there.” 

The staff needed and relied on Jamie’s insight, and he was very patient with their uncertainties. Early on, Ellen saw Jamie’s grasp of the project and the importance he placed on doing it well. I could tell he had all the skills, and he was project driven – that’s why I hired him.

A Project Manager with a Comprehensive Approach

Throughout the design process, Jamie was generous with his time and responsive to staff input. He worked in phases and provided regular updates. “He was very genuine with what he wanted to accomplish and did what he said he’do,” David observes.

Jamie’s project management skills made a huge impression on Ellen. A former project manager in the private sector herself, Ellen evaluates people based on their ability to stick to project deliverables and agreed-upon timelines. She’s well-aware that nonprofits can be laid back, and by being so, they can easily fumble opportunities. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who miss deadlines or are poor communicators,” she admits.Jamie was spot-on -- he got the work done and cared about the work that he did. I think that without him, the project would never have launched.”

Jamie utilized his full array of services to complete the Covenant House project. This included a photo shoot, resulting in colorful, eye-catching photos that make the Dr. Rainbow website appealing and welcoming. “Jamie was always about making sure that he gave us the best we could get, and I totally trusted him,” notes David. “The team at Bricks Without Straw really did well by us.

The Community’s Response

The community served by the Dr. Rainbow website has responded very positively. “All the comments were positive, no complaints at all,” David says with delight. “And folks outside of the state who’ve seen the website say that it’s giving them ideas. We’ve even been approached by commercial enterprises to advertise on the website in a way that supports the community we work with.” 

Covenant House serves a host of different disenfranchised people, and what is perhaps most impactful is that the website has raised awareness about the important work that Covenant House does and who benefits from this work.

What’s Next?

Ellen looks forward to a productive future working with Jamie. “Our goal in addition to reducing tobacco use in the LGBTQ community was to make a quick and easy resource that they could use to find competent health care providers,” she says, expressing gratitude for this additional accomplishment. “So, we think we’ve just scratched the surface with Jamie. We’re a small staff, and he has great ideas. I’d like to engage him in how we might sell advertising, and how we can ensure that we’re always expanding our resource base of health care providers.” 

Ellen and David have seen many people benefit as a result of Jamie’s availability, responsiveness, creativity, and overall professionalism. They believe his ongoing contributions will position Covenant House to make an even greater impact on the entire community that it serves.

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.