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Friday, June 30, 2006

Generations Together: Wrapping up...

The hardest part of grant-writing for me used to be the part where you tuck the whole thing in an envelope and stick it in the mail. After that, there was nothing else you could do except wait and I don't wait very well. Actually, that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was a week later when you were rereading the grant application to keep from chewing on the leg of your own desk and you realized you'd left something out or had made a mistake. Would they reject your grant because of this one error? Would 5 months of work go down the drain because you made a small error?

Well, now that I'm in the for-profit sector, I thought all that was behind me - that is until I encountered the dreaded Small Business Administration loan. Now, don't get me wrong, SBA is a GOOD thing. They guarantee the loan and you get lower interest rates as a result. Everybody says our loan is perfect for SBA. I just hope SBA agrees.

I guess I don't like "putting it all out there" for people to judge and accept or reject. It's why I never completed the great American novel I guess (though I have parts of several in bound vinyl notebooks buried in boxes in my closet). It may explain some of my difficulties navigating the philanthropy community!

One day I might drag one of my novels out and finish it and send it off to a publisher.

At least that's what I keep telling myself anyway.....

This is my second serious foray into the private sector. Our first Tom & Sheila owned business (also a day care center) did well for a few years and then closed. I chose the wrong place for it and didn't throw in the towel when I should have. Story of my life!

This time we developed a 192 page business plan, researched the financing, did the demographic and marketing research and generally obsessed over it. My partner in the venture is a dear friend and an experienced business woman. I am desparate not to let her down.


Generations Together has closed. In the midst of our capital campaign we suddenly found ourselves forced to compete with a 9 billion dollar disaster relief effort in the wake of hurricane's Rita and Katrina which severely drained philanthropic resources locally and nationally. Unable to raise money quickly enough, GT was forced to cease operations when the property owner sold the site to a developer. They bull-dozed everything we'd done.

I felt bad about it. We raised a lot of money and wound up losing it all. But everyone's donations were not wasted. Intergenerational day care will continue. We kept it alive for almost 3 years longer than it would have if we hadn't tried. Dozens of little old people didn't have to go to nursing homes because we were there a few years more. And finally, we have found another way to do intergenerational day care!

So what, if anything did we learn?

Lesson 1: What we learned is that sometimes it's easier to show people that a thing can be done and is worth doing than it is to talk them into helping you do it!

Lesson 2: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him forever. (in other words, we had to learn to fish and what pond to fish in)!

With the help of an imaginative local entrepeneur, some Small Business Adminstration financing (we hope), a providential day care center coming on the market and a lot of planning and hard work, we have managed to resurrect intergenerational day care in Smith County. When God closes a door, He opens a window! Watch these pages for announcement of the opening of the new Generations Project Christian Intergenerational Day Care Center.

Till then, in the words of Douglas Addams,

"So long and thanks for all the fish!"

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Vietnam & Iraq: A Faulty Comparison

If you had accepted the convoluted mathematical extrapolations of many left-wing bloggers and even some reputable media outlets over the past couple of years, we should have had about 3,600 to more than 6,000 casualties by now in Iraq.

Instead we just hit 2500. Now 2500 is a terrible loss of life among our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, don't get me wrong. But it's nowhere near the carnage of Vietnam where 2500 was more like the monthly death toll. The left has gleefully predicted a spike in casualties in Iraq similar to the 1966 surge in carnage the military experienced in Vietnam. I don't believe that spike will happen and here's why.

1. We have Saddam Hussein sitting in a jail cell. Chairman Ho sat comfortably in Hanoi throughout the war, untouchable by the military who were prohibited from targeting him personally or crossing the border to take down the military machine that was supporting the guerilla war in the south.

2. Every time we win a battle in Iraq, (like dropping those two 500 pounders on Zirqawi's punkin' head), we get new information and then hit 20 to 50 other strongholds and knock them out too. Every time we won a battle in Vietnam, the VietCong retreated into the North, regrouped, got new men and equipment courtesy of China and Russia and then when they were rested up, came back south and picked another fight. To win a war, you have to find the enemies supplies and command/control centers and knock them out. In Iraq we're doing that. In Vietnam, it was doctrine to avoid doing that.

3. We ran the war in Vietnam from the Whitehouse. Commanders literally had to wait to respond to an enemy push until somebody woke up LBJ and got permission for them to do something about it. Commanders on the ground in Iraq have wider latitude to follow through in a combat situation than their brothers in 'Nam ever did.

4. In Vietnam, the doctrine was one of containment. In Iraq, we planned to win (which we did when Saddam's government fell) and then, once the nation is back on its feet, we do plan to get out. If we'd done that in Vietnam, the end would have been very different.

5. One of my liberal buddies suggested that we should declare war again because we were losing fewer men during the war than we have since Bush declared we had "won". That would be nice if the terrorists would line up in some tanks or jeeps or something and fight us out in the open, but that won't happen. We're at the part where you mop up the stragglers after the real battle. Guerilla forces have lost thousands of fighters in clashes with U.S. forces in the past year. If you think our losses are tough, you ought to see how hard the Al-Quaeda recruiters are having to work to keep up with their losses. The secret to winning a guerilla war (if you're a guerilla) is to win the confidence of the people so they don't rat you out, but protect you from the enemy. The problem the guerillas are having is that they are making the mistake of blowing up the regular folks so often that the general populace is tired of it and is ratting them out right and left in disgust at their mindless violence. How do you think we got the intel on Zarqawi?

6. In Vietnam, the North Vietnamese were never damaged beyond their power to recover. We never cut off their supplies from Russia and China and we never hit them in their strongholds across the border. By contrast, Iraqi terrorist Zarqawi's papers, found in his hideout after the bombing state that, "...the insurgency is being hurt by, among other things, the U.S. military's program to train Iraqi security forces, by massive arrests and seizures of weapons, by tightening the militants' financial outlets, and by creating divisions within its ranks." Now that's how you win a war.

7. Finally, when the war in Vietnam was so obviously being mismanaged and needlessly risking our soldiers so they could use up and try out all sorts of new Army stuff (remember Ike warned us about the misuse of power by the Military Industrial Complex), I got fed up with it and even protested a little (not against the soldiers, but against the idiots in Washington that were getting them killed by the thousands). This time, the left doesn't have my support at all. So, I'm not out on the protest lines. That alone should give them pause!

Just one man's opinion....