Happy New Year! I really am happy that it is a new year! 2010 was both the most successful and the most challenging year ever for DreamPower. We survived - we actually thrived - but boy, was it a lot of worry and a lot of work! I could do with a little less worry in 2011. I felt like Rocky trying to keep his feet out of the mud. It's possible, but you have to be creative!
Six months ago today I quit my job working for San Francisco Community Behavioral Health Services, in order to focus full-time on DreamPower. I knew it was going to be financially challenging, that's why I had put it off for eight years! In April 2002 I had moved to San Martin for the purpose of starting DreamPower. I thought that I would be commuting to San Francisco for about two years. I thought that was about how long it would take to build up the financial stability of DreamPower, until DreamPower could start paying me a small salary. More than eight years later, DreamPower had grown tremendously, but I was still 100% volunteer and there was no money to pay an Executive Director. It was clear that in order for DreamPower to continue to grow, I was going to need to devote more time to it. I could not continue to work 40 hours per week for the city of San Francisco, and work with private clients four nights a week, and expect DreamPower to grow. After all, most people are not available for phone calls at 2 am.
But in order for me to have more time for DreamPower, I would have to quit my secure civil service job with a nice paycheck. That job had provided security both for me and for DreamPower. Whenever DreamPower was short, I had enough reserve to make up the difference. With my paycheck no longer available, both DreamPower and I would be much less financially secure. But security is probably over-rated! I didn't want DreamPower to be secure but smaller and less effective than I believed it could be. Creating enough room for growth and helping more people at DreamPower meant cutting off my city paycheck. So with fear and trepidation - and a profound trust in God and a sense of His leading - I jumped off the proverbial civil service cliff and June 30, 2010 was my last day as a San Francisco City and County employee. Many of my co-workers thought that was the silliest decision of the year.
2010 was as challenging as I had feared it would be. The economy did not improve as I had hoped that it would. Non-profits of every size and every kind struggled to pay the bills, and DreamPower was no exception. Many therapeutic riding programs closed their doors. I know this, because they called and offered us their horses.
DreamPower did not only survive, but we managed to thrive, even in these incredibly challenging times. We added programs, including the Horses for Heroes program for veterans and the Horse Power group for adults with cancer. We served 309 individual clients in 2010, the most ever. More than 200 volunteers gave of their time, energy and skill during 2010. And our Annual Campaign during December raised $12,026. That is $4,000 more than we have ever raised in December.
These successes happened because of the commitment and sacrifice of our amazing volunteers and volunteer staff. DreamPower has the most generous, wonderful and dedicated volunteer corps any organization could ever dream of having. We are truly blessed with the finest volunteers available in this world.
In 2010 we were saddened by the sudden deaths of two of our beloved horses. Both horses were 25 years old and appeared to be in perfect health until the day they died. T.C. ("Too Cool") died from sudden cardiac failure and Nick died from a severe colic. We are grateful for the wonderful relationships we had with both horses and for the people they helped through the years.
So 2011 is upon us. Welcome, New Year! We have so many ideas and opportunities before us in the new year. The challenges are many, but so are the resources. May God bless and guide us all through 2011. Amen.