16 Nov 2012 6:28 AM Since 2009, Convergence has been offering community outreach opportunities within the convention center and out in the host communities. It's a great chance to give back and make a real difference. Plus, you get to connect with other conference attendees in a way that's personal, fun, and fulfilling. Convergence 2013 Community Outreach Day is Monday, March 18, and I want to encourage you to attend. You can sign up when you register, so plan on coming a day early. Last year's Convergence volunteers made a lasting impact in Houston's Independence Heights neighborhood. Let me show you what I mean: Microsoft volunteers helped repair five homes in the neighborhood damaged by Hurricane Ike, including this one. Not only have the residents of those homes maintained the improvements, but many others have been inspired to repair their homes. Now, the five block area surrounding the street containing the repaired homes is being declared a historic district - the first minority historic district in the State of Texas! Because of the attention and exposure gained by the Convergence volunteer effort, many other groups have come through to help. That, in turn, has led to the area being deemed a neighborhood of opportunity by the Mayor's office, and will now receive a portion of the Federal government Hurricane Ike Round 2 Funding. We are told this designation is a direct result of the work begun by Convergence volunteers! And it gets better: Independence Heights will be the first neighborhood in the country to test Zero Energy Homes - a newly designed home that has a built-in fuel cell in to make it energy independent. The food pantry we worked on is currently feeding 50 people per week, and looking to expand as it nears final approval on necessary permitting. The organic garden we helped plant continues to grow and flourish, providing fresh fruit and vegetables for the community. Don't miss your chance to make a difference in New Orleans. Sign up for volunteer day when you register. See you there! _________________________ Early registration is now open. Check the Convergence 2013 website for the latest information. Register today! Enter the Convergence Share Your Story contest and you could win a $250 gift card - and a FREE PASS to Convergence 2014. Check out the full contest details.