Thank you to everyone who has followed Deep Root Center’s progress, cheered from the sidelines, and gifted us your ideas and talents, as well as offered financial contributions over the last, nearly, five years. I am deeply grateful to all of you.
Who would have believed, when I founded DRC in January of 2014, with one student, in that small, (let’s admit) dingy, (extremely) low rent, unheated space, which is now beautifully renovated and occupied by the Yoga Loft, how far we would come in these few short years?
This past year, in particular, has been mindbogglingly, amazing, (and admittedly, completely exhausting). We now own a, perfect for us, home and currently have twenty-one students. (A number which is totally organic and constantly changing – we added three new kids in early December.) All of this, I will add, has been accomplished with a minimal budget. It, seriously, has not increased much since the first year. The joke continues among our staff and board that I will, quite literally, pinch every single dime until it screams for mercy. Yes, we added Chris, our Seedlings Coordinator and Music Director, three years ago and the purchase of this house, which, while seemingly extravagant, is actually costing us about the same each month as our previous rent, with so many added benefits.
For the sake of transparency, I will say that we have been able to survive and maintain our small budget, thus far, because I was able to work without pay for several years and with a very small stipend over the past year, which I continue to forgo during particularly lean months. Chris has also willingly taken a small stipend since starting. (Yes, this guy is overwhelmingly awesome and I don’t think we (I) would have made it without him!)
As we have said many times, our budget reflects the realities of the people we are serving. We absolutely refuse to deny any child the right to an education of their choosing, regardless of their family’s income. Which means – we provide significant scholarship aid, equaling close to $70,000 this year alone, without a big pot of money to draw it from.
And, we are finding that there is an increasing population of young people in the NOCO who need us. They are fighting anxiety, depression, and, let’s be honest, apathy because they are disenfranchised from the Public-School System. The word is spreading and Deep Root Center has become a home, refuge, and safety net for many. They, simply, feel comfortable here, and with our mentoring support are able to make positive changes that will influence the remainder of their lives.
We are, however, reaching a place in our growth were not having a salary built into the budget
for the Executive Director, as well as a livable wage for our, increasingly overwhelmed, staff is not realistic or sustainable.
I never, ever, want to have to say to a family, who comes to us as their last resort, “sorry, DRC is full, we can’t help you.” It would completely break my heart. Instead, I want to see DRC grow even bigger, with additional facilities all over the St. Lawrence Valley, with full staffs, so we can help all those kids who are going to need us in the very near future. But, without reliable and sustainable funding the first devasting scenario is becoming increasingly more likely. This house is only so big and two staff members can only hold it together for so long.
Why am I pouring this all out now, in one of my last Blog Post of the year?
Apart from seeking your direct financial support, by asking you to consider donating to DRC to honor your loved ones (tell us who you are celebrating with your gift and we will send them a thank you, too) and requesting that you promote our corporate or business sponsorship opportunities (see the images included in this posting) - I am casting the net far and wide – seeking ideas and suggestions from the hive mind on how to grow our budget. We need to go far beyond what our limited (and handicapped) tuition base, an annual funding appeal, and small fundraisers throughout the year will gain for us. I also recognize that we need help with grant writing. Our (my) attempts have been abysmal (which, as a self-described writer, is a hard pill to swallow).
Please share your ideas with me or any of the Board Members (listed below). We are open to any, and, all viable, socially responsible, (and legal) suggestions that will not compromise our mission or philosophy. Thank you!
Best wishes for Happy Holidays – from the entire DRC Crew.