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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!"

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