I am thrilled to see we are currently serving 570 families on our Southside Support for Special Needs Families Facebook Group page. This is double where we were at this time last year. So exciting! It is time to inform all of you exactly what Southside Support, Inc., is accomplishing behind the scenes.
We are not just a Facebook support page… not at all. You also need to know there is an amazing core of volunteers driving Southside Support. These people know who they are and do not volunteer for any praise, rather because they believe to the marrow of their bones in our mission: To Connect Families with Special Needs to Their Communities. But we are not stopping at the south counties of Atlanta. We have BIG plans and I’d like to share with you what we’ve been tirelessly working on.
1.) Many of you know of our Safe Space initiative. It is a mobile Special Needs Accommodation Zone that we take to community events. It is currently a tent that is equipped to help families with special needs get out of their houses and attend an event… out of their houses!! So many of us feel trapped at home, like there is no place to go with our kids that is fun. Now you can come to something like the Fayetteville Market Day, or the PTC Air Show, or the Senoia Social, bring your kids and have a place to go to care for your kids because we are there! We have a changing area for diapering, a dark area for calming melt downs, sensory toys for some play time and volunteers to help while you care for your loved ones. BUT! This tent is not enough. We want to provide more for you. We are currently in the process of securing a partnership with a national RV manufacturer, Heartland RV, in Elkhart, IN. They have agreed to custom build us what we need from the ground up! They also want to make their mark on this world by helping people like us provide a much needed service. This RV will have even more amenities! We will have a private diapering space, heat and air conditioning, a quiet, dark melt down calming room, refrigerator and microwave for food storage/prep and a family respite area in case you just need a break. Isn’t this FANTASTIC?!!
2.) We are not stopping there. There is no one else in the United States that is providing this type of mobile service at community events and we are in the process of obtaining a Method of Service Utility Patent. Yes! This will allow us the capability to grow as a business and even license this service to other communities around the country. This is an excellent, scalable business opportunity and speaks volumes when asking for corporate sponsorship dollars, which leads me to my next point.
3.) We are embarking on a new marketing campaign that will allow us to approach corporations such as Chick Fil A and NASCAR among many, many others to ask them for large contributions so that we can truly make a difference in communities on a national scale. We will be making some big, needed changes and it will prove to be a very exciting venture! One big thing we are changing is the name, “Safe Space” to “SNAZ! Special Needs Accommodation Zone” Be on the lookout for that name! We want SNAZ to be in every community across the country. Special needs are everywhere and we want to help others serve those right where they are. This is a huge goal, but one we feel is possible and much needed.
4.) Finally, I have been on a personal mission to network and create lasting relationships with local service providers and organizations for our families. I have been speaking to organizations in our own community such as, the FCBOE Special Services Directors, Rotary and Civitans groups, the Fayette Co. Democratic Committee among others. I have future meetings with CHOA – Piedmont Fayette and Speedway Children’s Charities at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It is my personal mission to promote, inspire and network Southside Support, Inc., with other organizations in order to create awareness and grow our business. I will continue to do so as long as the Lord strengthens and leads me. In the interest of creating awareness and education for those who honestly have NO IDEA what we go through as parents of special needs kids, the reaction I have gotten so far has been wonderful!
We have even more to accomplish for Southside, but this is a good start, don’t you think? Isn’t this exciting? Aren’t you amazed at what could possibly happen across our nation for special needs families because of us?! OK, here’s where the going gets tough, or the tough get going. Southside Support, Inc. is a nonprofit business… the key word in that statement being BUSINESS. We need to make money to run this business (like pay for our new marketing campaign) and the ways to make money are as follows.
1.) Write grants for funding… that we are doing! The only thing with funders is they RARELY give grants for day-to-day operating expenses for things like admin costs or marketing campaigns. Most will only grant donations for projects, which is great, but projects are not the only things that make up a business.
2.) Hold fundraising events: Been there, done that, will continue to do more! (Like the Symposium coming up in October…stay tuned)
3.) Ask for donations from its members. Ahhh…. Here’s the catcher. I asked Raissa Chandler our President, how many of our 570 members REGULARLY donate to Southside Support. I was shocked at her answer. Less than 10. Less than 10?!! No… it couldn’t be true, could it? Sadly, it is true. We have asked for money from you before and did not receive much. It seems to be the same few who already contribute regularly. Not many are buying our tee shirts that will help us raise funds to continue the work we are doing. So, that is the reason for this long, loooong post. In order to continue to provide the services you receive like free love, advice, support, referrals, coffee support groups, educational seminars (for a small fee) and SNAZ, we need the direct, financial support from YOU! You are our extended family and we need you now. Believe me, we KNOW finances are incredibly tough for families like ours. But if every member… all 570… gave $5/month, each month, do you know what that could mean? 570 x $5 = $2,850/month toward continuing the goal of CHANGING THE WORLD FOR THE BETTERMENT OF SPECIAL NEEDS FAMILIES!! Don’t you want to be a part of something ground breaking? Something amazing? If you had even $1/month, (just one dollar!) that is a huge difference when multiplied by 570! If you feel led to give more, then please do so. Now that you know some of what we are working on, won’t you consider being a regular contributor to our cause? Pray on it; think on it, whatever it is you do before making a financial decision. We are on the verge of something big…very big. Go to our websitewww.southsidesupport.org and click on Donate, put in your tax-deductible amount and click the button that says you want it to occur monthly. This is your chance to make a world of difference for families just like ours all over this country and someday, the world.
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