There are a crazy amount of tears that are shed when you run a nonprofit organization. Double that for when you run two. This is hard to admit for a person who does not like to show emotion in public. I have always been a person who can practice the strictest amount of self-control, and I am the person who can keep it together no matter how painful the situation is. It can drive me crazy when the tears begin to fall, and I almost always feel the need to analyze my feelings.
So that's what happened this morning, as I fully realized the fact that Sarah and I, two very small people with not much to offer the world and a lot of strikes against them, lead two amazing nonprofit organizations and are supported by a HUGE number of supporters. I feel so utterly blessed; it makes me cry. There are several things about The Torch and 180 that never, ever, cease to amaze me - and one of them touches me so deeply it makes me weep.
I was looking at the list of people who stepped up and donated to our $30,000 campaign. It is a very, very long list, because the people who support us give what they can and it isn't always a lot of money. That proves to me over and over again how powerful we are when we all work together. The Torch and 180 are growing and thriving because of people just like Sarah and me who give what they can when they can. If it's $1.80, or $5.00 or $10.00 or $2,000 or more - we are always blessed and encouraged!
I was recently talking with a friend who had a lot of questions about what we do. She began to list funding sources as suggestions for us to pursue. The thing is, all the funding sources she suggested to me follow the accepted pattern established by our society for helping others - the requirements for documenting each individual we help. And that goes against everything Sarah and I believe and the reasons we founded The Torch.
We have been told many times that many doors for funding and partnerships would open if we would only partner with larger organizations. The problem is, they don't operate by our moral code, vision and values, so we pass on those opportunities. If we thought that model was the way to do things, we wouldn't have started the Torch. There's no reason to re-invent the wheel.
So, what we do can often be more difficult for us than it is for others who have large institutional support behind them. We work very hard to raise the money we need to keep moving forward. We depend on lots and lots of other people who believe the way we do and operate with limited personal resources, much like us. In many ways, that's what sets us apart. It's also why we cry over donations, kind words of encouragement, and when people try hard to help spread the word about what we are doing. It's really just us and all of you out there working together.
We have no statewide or national organization behind us, although there is some talk of something like that happening. One thing we know for sure, no matter what opportunities lie ahead - we will never move on them if they require us to abandon our dream of what The Torch is and what we stand for.
We always want to be the light in the darkness for those who need hope and encouragement. We never want anyone to hesitate to approach our truck. We want people to know they are loved in spite of their mistakes or circumstances. We've been told so many times that model just won't work, yet it does again and again.
And, once again, I am crying in gratitude to all of you who think like we do and are willing to sacrifice what you can to help us keep moving forward.