An open letter from DRAW's Executive Director

To all of the volunteers, first responders, donors, and supporters of DRAW over the first 5 years (and anyone interested in the next 5):


Facebook has a way of getting me nostalgic.  They pop up "memories" regularly, things you posted in past years on this day's date.  This week, I had memory pop up from 5 years ago that this was the week we had decided to go ahead with the formation of DRAW (Our actual 5th birthday is May 22, the date of our first board meeting).  

So I want to tell you two things.  First, thank you for everything you've poured into DRAW in its first 5 years.  Our efforts have affected tens of thousands of storm victims.  We've given away in the neighborhood of $750k of supplies in that time span. And we've mobilized, literally, thousands of volunteers to help in storms' aftermaths.  I've been in the weeds working with stats this week, and a number of times I shook my head in disbelief, thinking "I can't believe we got to do this."  None of that happens without any of you.  It's been awesome building something special with you all.

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On the same day that facebook got me nostalgic, I got a question from a supporter, who asked, essentially, "where is DRAW going?" I've been realizing the last couple years what many people advised me as DRAW started, telling me that it's very easy to slip into maintenance mode. But I believe there are big goals for DRAW to attain in our near future, and I wanted to communicate those to all of you. My hope is, by communicating our goals clearly and often, it will be easier to involve you, and all of our supporters, in the process.  As I've found in five years, the best guidance and ideas have come from you.  So here are quantifiable goals to shoot for over the NEXT 5 years.

  • Starting in June 2017, DRAW will sign a lease on our location. So our goal is to create a stable home base/HQ, one that is a great place for volunteers to make a difference, and will be central to everything we do going forward.
  • Each year, we've had an average of 45 yearly partnerships (schools/churches/businesses).  I'd like for us to (at the least) double that number by 2020
  • To this point, DRAW has responded to disasters with either a crew of volunteers, a load of supplies, or both.  I'd like to add a third type of response in the next year or two; a mobile logistics team.  This would be a team of volunteers who would go for 10-14 days after a storm, working with other organizations (Convoy of Hope, World Vision, etc) to manage the distribution of supplies donated to disaster stricken areas.  This will require recruitment, training, and some possible capital investments into the program (trailers, tents, computers, etc)
  • By 2022, I'd like to see DRAW employ three staff:  The executive director, an operations director, and a super-admin.  Currently, we are filling three obvious roles with one full time staffer, and combination of a large number of dedicated volunteers/interns.  

Of course, all of these goals will require processes and funding.  As I said, I'm sharing the goals with you to let you know that a) we're not content with the status quo, and b) we don't have all the answers on how we can make this happen, which is where you come in.  While we've successfully helped thousands in 5 years, we've learned from experiences and believe we can do even more to serve disaster victims.  

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In the short term, we have annually done an online fundraiser/"web-a-thon" for DRAW on our birthday.  On our 5th birthday, we're going to aim big, trying to raise $30k in that one day, asking for pledges from our awesome supporters leading up to the day.  We also have plans to put on a 5k run this year, and continue many of the programs that gained steam as we started.  And even as soon as the next 4 weeks, we have 9 different churches/schools/community groups/girl scout troops collecting supplies and funds to make DRAW's mission a reality. But here are ways we need you:

  1. Volunteer at our HQ on Wednesdays (or any time, for that matter)
  2. Weigh in on DRAW's future, giving suggestions to our leadership of how we can get there, and how you might join us.
  3. Make a financial pledge to DRAW's upcoming Web-a-thon, on May 22
  4. Donate to DRAW's ongoing mission to serve victims of natural disasters

I love y'all, I love making an impact with you, and I'm thankful for what may come with DRAW because of you.