YES, you read that right! And we are not just about Art!
In January 2010 I had a vision of a functional art center for veterans and families to heal from emotional and mental injuries. The non-profit Organization, Operation Revamp, Inc, was founded in May 2010, Incorporated in July 2010 and awarded 501(C)3 status in January 2011 as a public charity. YOU are that public, and owners of the non-profit.
In January 2013 I found an ideal building (complete with a lot of needed contents) and by April had acquired it under contract by the non-profit and I leased it for 6 months on a test run. I made the necessary repairs and renovations to have part of the building usable and with the help of a handful of volunteers we had it cleaned and ready to go in a month.
May 1st, 2013 the doors opened on the Veterans Art Center and the need was quick to show itself as classes started, Veterans Art Exhibits hosted, and the craft cupboards in the main studio were converted to a coffee and snack area. In August 2013 we had our first annual meeting in the new gallery and presented a video of the changes that had taken place in a few short months.
We were not set up for tracking those first few months but by August 1st we had 175 registered participants, 17 volunteer instructors, and a mountain of donated art supplies, woodworking equipment and musical instruments.
As the purchase contract closing date of October 2013 loomed in on us and we were still not able to get bank funding to buy it I had to rethink my strategy.
So many veterans and family members had partaken in the free programs and services. So many veteran and family members offered their time and efforts to create the Veterans Art Center and introduce new programs. So many veterans and family members commented to us and to news reporters, on how participation and making art had eased their PTSD symptoms, gotten them out of isolation, given them purpose and more.
One veteran entered my office in early October, his eyes welled up with tears, and he proceeded to describe his activities on the day he first came in, his suicidal plans and intentions, and his walking through our door with no other purpose than to use the bathroom and warm up. He was telling me this because he no longer felt suicidal, he now felt like he had a reason to live, and he spoke of plans and dreams of a new job cooking once he got back on his feet. When he left my office I phoned the bank and said to go with the personal loan.
If this place could save one life it was worth the risk and worth the cost to save even more. My vision of Helping Veterans Heal was being fulfilled. On October 31st, 2013 I wrote a personal check for $79,206.01 as down payment and closing costs on a 5 year loan and purchased the building for the Veterans Art Center. That 5 years is up.
The non-profit has made all payments on the building since March 2014 and the remaining payoff to the bank on the loan is $175,000 - Due by October 30, 2018.
During that 5 years, at least since we started tracking, we have provided free programs and services to around 900 veterans and family members annually. Of the portion of those veterans who were surveyed in the past 3 years 426 reported Increased Health or Well Being, 382 Increased Mental Health Support, 238 Increased Access to Health Care, 236 Increased Job Stability, 182 Increased Housing Stability and 145 Increased Family Well Being. Also recorded were 170 with Decreased Urgent Need, 227 with Decreased Food or Gas Need, and 15 FIFTEEN who commented statements to the effect they are alive because of this place.
During the past 5 years we have added crisis and emergency support, alternative healing including acupuncture, yoga and Tai Chi, an RC Car Club, meditation and mindfulness, and many more arts and craft opportunities.
Help us save this place -- it is so much more than just a building!!!