Today I released my first contributed Drupal module, Gallery Archive (backstory here). I had already created the Drupal theme Airy Blue (in use on this site) some time ago, and have created many modules and themes in use on this site and many other Drupal sites I manage. However, it takes a lot more polish, a lot more work, and a lot more long-term dedication to release a module for public consumption!
So, why would I do such a thing? I'm have little time for such projects as it is... and it's not like releasing a module on drupal.org, thus opening up the issue queue for time-consuming support requests is going to make my life any easier.
Well, I have piggybacked on the success and support of tons of other generous Drupal users over the past two years—I have gone from being a complete programming newbie to a competent (but still learning) PHP programmer, and I have gone from learning what 'node' means to understanding much of Drupal's node API (which, of course, is all changing again ;-). I have joined thousands of charitable souls who devote quite a bit of time—personally and professionally—to making great projects like Drupal stronger... without any compensation besides a 'warm fuzzy feeling.'
I feel it's time I 'pay it forward,' as it were. When I read the book "Hackers," I sympathized with the movement of software developers who wanted to simply create new and amazing things for the betterment of humanity (in my case... humanity and the Church).
I am committing myself towards moving my theme and new module forward and releasing Drupal 7 versions of both within the year (sooner or later...), and I feel this is a very good use of my time, both as an Archdiocesan web developer, and an individual in the open source software movement.
I would call anyone else out there who hasn't taken the time to contribute back: please consider doing so—it will help you become a better programmer/designer, and it will help strengthen the community from which you have received so much already.