I started an entry about my neighborhood group last weekend, and then L's computer froze up and I didn't get to finish. I think it was fate because I'm writing now with amazing news. But first, let me fill you in...
Approximately two and a half years ago, I started meeting with some of my neighbors to clean up the hillside at the end of our street. We live on a discontinuous street in the Southeast section of City. The street would go on, but the hill was so steep that they just stopped the street, left the land untouched and picked up the street at the bottom of the hill. That hillside is about 3 stories high with a staircase that was built into the hill for public access from the 700 block of our street to the 600 block.
We began to coordinate clean up days with neighbors where we picked up trash, painted graffiti, and pulled weeds. We made every attempt to try to make this neglected parcel of land a bit more beautiful. And, frankly, we have made a lot of progress in the past couple of years.
A little more than a year ago, we started to meet once a month and began to really visualize what we wanted for the hillside: a retaining wall, benches, beautiful plants. It took a long time to figure out exactly what we had to do to get the money to make our dreams a reality. Back in December, we got a fiscal sponsor (that means that we are a partner with an existing non-profit organization. They help us figure out how to function as a nonprofit without having to go through the formal process. It also means that all donations received for our group are tax-deductible.) That was the first sign that we were legitimate. After we received this partnership, I realized that this wasn't just all fun and games. Now that we were "official" we had responsibilities!
After the Christmas and New Year's holidays, we quickly got to work on our first grant. It took us a month to work together and hammer out that first grant. What was great was that we had to take a look at the entire year for our organization and come up with a time-line complete with a fundraising plan. That exercise has been instrumental in our success so far this year. We organized a plant sale this past April. That first fundraiser, we raised over $800! It was way more than we anticipated. It was ALOT of work. We have our second annual garage sale and block party scheduled for next weekend
Don't get me wrong things are not all peachy at all times. This group has given me a platform to work as a team with 4 other women. I don't go to an office for work everyday; this group feels like a part-time job, one in which I have to learn to deal with office politics. It's been an amazing growth opportunity for me personally. It's not what I anticipated when I started, but I'm appreciating it for the way it's allowing me to grow both personally as well as professionally. That is the added bonus. What I mean is that I have to deal with everyone's different personalities, the way they do things or the way they don't do things. I'm a take charge kind of person (I know that's hard for some of you to believe:) and I just don't take lolly-gagging lightly. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. And, please do it diligently, professionally, and comprehensively. That's all I ask. Not everyone does "things" that way. Like I said, I'm learning how to "deal" with that.
Back to the project... Since that plant sale, we have worked on 2 other grants. We were awarded one grant for $1500. The third grant, again, took a lot of time to prepare. We asked for $10,000 in that grant. The first grant back in February was for $5000; it was from a city organization. Unfortunately, that money was not available during the first cycle because of budget cuts, so we revised it and resubmitted it this past Friday. Things were rolling right along. We currently have about $2300 in our account. Not too shabby, you might say...
Well, all of this commentary is to tell you about this AMAZING news we found out last night. Our group and hillside project was just chosen by a major company; they are going to completely restore and beautify our hillside! I'm being vague here on purpose because the company asked us not to discuss the deal before they could publicize it themselves. This group is going to hire a celebrity landscape designer to work with us to come up with a plan for the hill. Then, they are going to send out 40 work people to do an 8 hour work day to completely revitalize our hill....with a budget of up to $75,000. They have contacted the mayor as well as the governor's office. I'm not sure it's going to be a televised thing, but they describe it like one of those TV shows where they send in a bunch of people and completely transform something from totally crappy to totally amazing. Can you believe this?
My neighbor was contacted on Wednesday through some connections we have. The meeting was set on Thursday morning to meet with the company representative and 2 other people. And we found out Friday night about 8p. Just 3 days. I felt like I won the lottery. We all are unbelievably happy. My one neighbor started crying; the rest of us were jumping up and down and doing the happy dance! We cracked open a couple of bottles of bubbly too. I am so proud of us. We worked hard to get here and all of our efforts have paid off. (The project is scheduled to be completed next month!)
The question now is what's next?