Friday, August 31, 2012

Something Awesome This Way Comes

I've been sitting on some pretty big news for about a week now and I'm finally ready to share it with you. I was waiting on one finally piece of information to fall into place and now it seems like everything is set. First a little background:

As many of you (hopefully) know, I started a charity several years ago called the Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project (EEROP).
I figured that maybe 15 or 20 friends on Ravelry might join in and knit some items for orphans. Well, after a year our group was at over 100 people. In the second year of our existence we expanded to include non-knitters, raised over $1000, and sent over 2000 items (clothing, bedding, school and medical supplies) to 6+ orphanages throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. I figured sometime during that 2nd year that maybe I should get serious about turning our little homegrown charity into a full fledged non-profit. I'll admit I was a bit overwhelmed. And scared. What if I did something wrong and the federal government came after me? I wanted EEROP to be a full fledged non-profit that had a strong national and international presence. This sort of pushes you to make sure you cross those t's and dot the i's. So, I kept putting it off and putting it off. But at the beginning of this year (2012) I decided this would be The Year. This year we would get non-profit status. But I was scared of asking people to be on my board. What if they didn't take me seriously? Sometimes I don't even take myself seriously. Sometimes I can't believe I'm an adult. Then I had to face the music. If this is what I'm called to do (something that has been reiterated to be constantly over the past 2+ years) then I needed to start acting like I was called and less like I was forced. I bought a book on how to form a non-profit and started reading. After I had the basics I started thinking and praying about who to ask to join me on this venture. Right away two people came to mind. They have a lot to offer EEROP and were both smart, connected, entrepreneurial guys. I took the plunge and asked the first individual. And he responded "yes" without hesitation. The second individual was out of the country so I had to wait on him to return before I could ask him. In the meantime I just planned to twiddle my thumbs and wait. Then my pastor preached a sermon on finishing something God has called you too even when it is hard. Immediately I knew I needed to finish my articles of incorporation for EEROP. So, I sat down on Monday after the sermon on Sunday and finished them in less than 2 hours (and then I spent 3 hours kicking my own rear for not finishing them sooner). This past Wednesday I had the chance to ask the second individual to be on my board. Again, he replied "yes" without hesitation. The things that had scared me for months were easily accomplished in a few short weeks.
One of my favorite pictures. What joy at such simple gifts!
So, all that is wonderful. Our articles of incorporation are finished. Our board is set. I even finished our by-laws and I'm almost ready to begin tackling our 501(c)3 application. But things get better. Another huge issue for EEROP is operating costs. We spent nearly every penny last year shipping items. Our #1 goal is to look after the orphans. The other things associated with running a corporation have come second. This means that we have no legal help, no office space, no storage space for donations (besides my bedroom closet), no business cards, I even stopped printing thank you post cards because I couldn't afford to keep buying the stamps, ink, and paper. It was always most important to ship those boxes. But...Without the other stuff we're just treading water, trying to stay afloat until we could somehow get that financial push we needed. In order to get the grants and do the fundraising that we really need I would have to give up something: internship, school, work...none of which are really an option right now. But...I said, things got better. We received a huge financial donation that is going to help push us over the threshold of existing and really running a corporation. Now I will have enough money to ship some of the last donations of the year and get the legal help that we need to get the paperwork looked over and ready for federal government approval.
I love that her hat, gloves, and scarf were ALL HANDMADE. All her other gifts were donated as well.
I'm beyond pumped about where EEROP is headed as we go into fall and winter. I'm even more excited to see what 2013 holds as I will be finishing school and looking to see how I can begin managing EEROP more effectively. I'm still totally overwhelmed. There is a lot that still needs to be done. But I have two people who are going to work side by side with me (I hope they know what they signed up for) and a whole slew of other people who are supporting EEROP through their generous donations. If you are the praying type here's some things that you can be praying for:
  • We need someone gifted in non-profit law/issues who will look over our paperwork. I want this to be someone who can work with us for years to come so I want the right person to come on board.
  • For me to stop putting God in a box. I have people approaching me with ideas they have for EEROP I never dreamed of. I want this to be as big as God has planned, not as big as I have imagined.
  • The next few months as our goals become more solidified. The direction and size of our growth will dictate my future work and school plans.
I cannot thank you enough for joining me on this journey (and just for reading this whole blog, it's way too long). As a show of my appreciation here's some pictures of some really cute kids who want to thank you for all you've done.

Who knew that just a little giving could result in such happiness and pride?
Another one of my favorites :)

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