A Thank You letter

I'm sorry.  It's no longer February.  This entry has been sitting as an unpublished draft in our blog for over a month.  Originally it was a letter I wrote to all our donors to accompany year-end statements for tax purposes.  But since it tells an important part of our story, and because so many of you partner with us in crucial ways other than financial contributions, I wanted to include it here as a way to say thanks to ALL our partners.  But I couldn't find the right picture.  So it sat.  I got busy.  I wanted to put one of Klaus Kinski because he is so fantastic and has one of the world's best names.  Plus Werner Herzog--need I say more.  The film itself brings back a flood of memories, freshman year, a college film society... but I knew it would be totally gratuitous, with practically nothing to do with the blog.  Plus copyright issues are always a concern.  How many hours have I spent looking for public domain photos?  I suppose I'm not above any of this. I can always include a tribute URL for the photo.  And I promised I would get this published today, so that our new (and also fantastic, although not in a Klaus Kinski sort of way) Director of Strategic Partnerships, who you will meet very soon, could get a newsletter out to you.

There were times this year when I wondered if I was a bit nuts.  Not exactly opera-in-the-jungle Fitzcarraldo nuts—but as close as I’d been in a while.  I was sending my second kid off to private college.  At the same time, I was deferring nearly every other paycheck just to keep a non-profit afloat. 

I figured if I were nuts, I must be in good company.   My board of directors—an amazingly accomplished, committed, fun, and generous group of people—must be nuts too.  And the customers buying nearly 100K worth of granola.  Not to mention the grass roots support—individual donors like you—who were giving so generously.

And despite us being in survival mode, our crazy plan to onramp refugees into the job market through a social venture, was still working.  (In fact, every single one of our 8 trainees this year, including the one hired in November, now has a real job.)  So we pressed on.

Actually, my biggest fear wasn’t so much shutting down as the prospect of spending another year or two in survival mode.  Ongoing survival mode for a mission-driven organization is a slow death that diverts all your life energy from fulfilling and growing the mission.

What a difference a day makes!  In October we received notice of three grants, all designated towards capacity building.  So at our board’s November strategic planning retreat, rather than discuss contingency plans for shutting down, we instead made a decision to hire a full-time development associate so that I could shift my focus towards our training mission.  (We’re in the hiring process now!)

What can I say other than thank you!  Thanks for being nuts with us.  Thanks for believing in our project. Thanks for wanting our community to be a place where refugees find refuge and have a chance to flourish. Thanks for being so generous.  And thanks for a multi-dimensional generosity that goes beyond money to buying granola, caring about our training participants, and even, in some cases, helping them find permanent jobs. 

We are, of course, thrilled about these grants and the doors they are opening. We’re also deeply aware that our identity will continue to be primarily a grass-roots organization, partnering with individuals and communities to onramp refugees into the job market.  We are looking forward to an exciting 2015 with you.