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 :)

Monday, August 13, 2012


If you have ever been a senior in high school or college or the parent of a senior in high school or college then you are probably familiar with senioritis. This inconvenient illness strikes some time during a senior's last semester and lasts until graduation. Symptoms include failing to do work on time and not giving a damn. Individuals with senioritis like to procrastinate, take frequent naps, and say things like, "It's really not that important" and "I'll do it after I finish watching season 3 of Dr. Who." The reality is, of course, that it is that important and it cannot wait until the end of season 3 of Dr. Who. Unless you have a tardis of course.

I'm sad to report that I have taken ill with senioritis. I've been feeling a little overwhelmed with school work (nothing new there) and I ended up getting a bit behind last week (actually not my fault there, the website I needed was down for a week). Well, after getting behind and having to turn in things a little late and not finishing everything right on time and not doing assignments up to my usual high standards because I just needed to get them done... I realized something...if I overload myself with school work and worry then I'm not doing myself any good. So, I need to take some breaks. I need to knit a little bit. Maybe exercise. Eat some ice cream. Take a nap. Quit killing myself with stress.

And so, I did.

You know what? Life went on. Things got done. Maybe not right on time but not so late that I can't make up for it later. And my mindset's better. I'm a little more peaceful.

And I might almost have a new pair of socks.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A New Kind of Normal

After a month of seeming chaos I feel like life is settling into some kind of normal. I've developed new before and after work routines and I feel as though things are becoming a bit more ordered. Last weekend is actually the first weekend that I didn't work (I'm not *supposed* to work on Fridays but did twice last month), moving, cleaning an apartment that I moved out of, or generally rushing around. I thought it would be a good time to blog and relax and knit and enjoy myself.

I'm absolutely loving my internship! Every afternoon I leave there singing and happy. And not because I'm leaving, because I love what I do! I really feel like a part of the team there, like people think of me as their equal and not as "the intern." They laugh with me and they help me and they recognize my good work. I realized how lucky I am when I was laughing so hard I was crying yesterday. I don't think I've *ever* done that at another job. And on top of the wonderful people I work with, I'm learning so much. Every time I hear another story of a hurting child and a broken family I feel more sure that I'm heading in the direction that God wants me to. I've truly been blessed with this internship.

Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project:
Speaking of heading in the direction God wants you to be...Even though I often let EEROP get put on the back burner it is still some thing that I'm passionate about. I feel like so much of what I do is actually fueling the fire for EEROP. So, even though it's on the back burner the heat's not on low. One weekday after work I decided to open and sort through the most recent set of packages I received. I always get inspired to see what others have donated! Then, about a week ago I went to a prayer meeting of adoptive moms to offer support and was overwhelmed at the appreciation for being involved in orphan care! And one of the ladies put me in touch with Alex Krutov, author of Infinitely More. And another lady contacted me with information she had researched about a rural Russian orphanage that needed donations through the EEROP Facebook page. It's so awesome to see the growth that is taking place! Then, I had a chat with a friend of mine who is super involved in technology and is a fundraising/social media/idea generating whiz and asked him to join our board of directors. He was very excited and jumped right on board. We also agreed upon another friend of mine who we will be asking to join us as well and are in the talks about 1-2 other people to add to the board. Once the board is set (my goal is to have that done by the end of August) then I can begin the application process for our 501(c)3 status. My hope is that by December of 2012 EEROP will be an *official* non-profit.

Everyone seems to be settling in after the move. We finally managed to get the couch through the playroom door so I have a little "living room" area set up.
See, it's really in here now.
Penelope is enjoying standing at the top of the stairs, meowing, and making my parent's dog go crazy. She has met the indoor/outdoor kitty, Moo Moo, but they are still drawing out boundary lines. However, Penelope seems to have fairly well claimed the upstairs as her domain. I'm still adjusting to having most of my possessions in boxes. Sometimes I will think of something I want/need but have no idea where it might be. I have had minimal success in the "box checking" approach so usually I just end up giving up, buying what it is I need, or asking my parents if I can borrow theirs.

I finished my international socks! I started these in the terminal of the Atlanta airport waiting to go to Romania, worked on them throughout my trip, and finished them up once I got back home.
 I like the socks well enough but wish the pattern on the top of the foot ended higher up, say, mid-foot. They appear to do that in the pattern picture but I must have a little foot or something. And I didn't read the foot/toe directions all the way through before starting so I had to decrease for the toes pretty sharply or the socks would have been too long. They look a little funky off but fit fine. I like the color but now I'm ready to do something a bit brighter. Say something in this color:
I believe this color is considered "retina searing."
(Originally planned for these to be a pair of mittens for a friend but in a long, and strange, turn of events she will not be needing them.)

So, yes, life is continuing on. We're all adjusting and some days go more smoothly than others but we're getting there!
Penelope showing just how adjusted she is.