AWS Public Sector Blog

How one nonprofit commemorates enduring sibling relationships with AWS

This is a guest post by Audree Thurman, the founder of SibsForever.

SibsForever is a nonprofit created to support and provide a safe community for people who have lived through the loss of a sibling. Surviving siblings are heavily impacted by their experience, and it is vital for many to collect and protect memories, stories, and precious moments with their loved one. is a progressive web application that runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS). It functions as an online memory book for surviving siblings. The application offers a secure and private platform for surviving siblings to chronicle memories through storytelling, pictures, and videos. By sharing their stories and experiences, the community has become a safe and supportive space for surviving siblings.

Offering resources and community for surviving siblings with the cloud

I founded SibsForever in August 2020. As a surviving sibling, it’s my mission to help other surviving siblings like me. I recognized that there was a significant lack of resources for surviving siblings and SibsForever’s goal is to fill that gap.

The SibsForever flagship application is hosted on AWS. It provides a virtual platform for surviving siblings to commemorate and honor their sibling relationship. The private and supportive SibsForever community is made up of hundreds of surviving siblings, totally separate from any major social media platform. Any surviving sibling can go to to create a no-cost account and build commemorative web pages for their sibling and sibling relationship, including photo and video galleries featuring themselves and their siblings. Users can configure their pictures, written posts, and precious videos to be private, or they can choose to share the content with friends, family, and the broader SibsForever community. Every shared picture, post, and video can be commented on, which is another way to keep memories active and fresh.

Building a low-cost application with the support of AWS

I decided to develop and deploy the SibsForever application on AWS for two main reasons. First, I knew that AWS offers a $1000 annual cloud credit to nonprofits. This covers the entire cost of hosting the SibsForever application in the cloud and removes any need to use donor funds for this purpose. Additionally, I was impressed by the numerous support resources and AWS employees available to support and guide me as I built the application. I relied heavily on documented best practices for building a resilient, secure, and scalable application.

There are three primary AWS services behind the SibsForever application. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) acts as extensible and robust storage for housing user-uploaded photos and videos, user-entered stories, and journal entries persisted by the application. The application uses AWS Lambda for a performant event-driven, serverless photo resizing and video conversion processing tool that helps support a smooth user experience as they upload large videos and photos. Finally, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) supports a managed configuration for historical and user-entered data.

The following depicts the SibsForever AWS architecture in detail:

Figure 1. The SibsForever web application architecture on AWS.

Figure 1. The SibsForever web application architecture on AWS.

Many AWS services contribute to SibsForever’s strong security and data privacy posture. These are a few key examples:

  1. SibsForever image and video files are served directly from Amazon CloudFront to the end user. For maximum privacy, these multimedia URLs should not be shared among end-users or reused outside of the SibsForever application. Using CloudFront signed cookies protects these URLs from being directly accessed outside the SibsForever application.
  2. SibsForever uses only encrypted storage for all objects stored in Amazon S3 and Amazon RDS. Additionally, all sensitive data, such as database passwords and credentials for third-party services, gets encrypted within AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store.
  3. The SibsForever application uses CloudFront with AWS WAF, a web application firewall, to enhance the availability, performance, and security of static and dynamic content. AWS WAF inspects incoming requests at the nearest edge location according to configured rules. These rules detect and block traffic that poses a threat or risk to the application.

Lessons learned

Building has required patience, commitment, and skilled leadership. Nonprofits, like any business, need the right resources and relationships to be effective. Collaborating with AWS has been pivotal for SibsForever. We can use cloud resources at no cost, access technical expertise, and explore more opportunities like the AWS Imagine Grant.

Nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world are increasing their impact with AWS. AWS offers multiple programs for nonprofits to get started on the cloud, including the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program, which helps organizations offset the costs of implementing cloud-based solutions. Apply for the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program to start your journey with AWS.

Read more stories about AWS for nonprofits:

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