WOW! What an awesome achievement for Charity for Charity and the event, Stars of the Valley!! It's incredible how far the community has brought this event and how much support surrounds this organization!
11 years ago, Stars of the Valley was a concept created to bring together the desire to help a friend with spinal cancer and my love for the "fantasy" of Hollywood awards events.
If anyone would have asked me if I'd still be hosting this event 11 years later, I would have said, "I doubt people will still come". That's what I said for the first 5 years. Maybe it's because I felt, in the first 5 years, that I didn't know what I was doing or that, with my lack of experience running a non profit, somehow it wouldn't succeed. If I'm going to be completely transparent, which I TOTALLY am, the honest truth is that I had NO IDEA I was running a business. I had a group of my "besties" working with me, non of who had experience in running a non profit, just like me. We were just a great group of ladies who LOVED to have fun and spent a lot of time together, so what a great thing if we put that time into doing good for our community. We did the best we could, learning some really tough lessons along the way.
The toughest lesson that was learned was at that five year mark. We had brought a newer friend into the mix. Great person who we felt would be a huge asset to our board. Funny thing you learn sometimes, the hard way most of the time, is that people are different in different circumstances. I learned this the hard way.
We were still a board of girlfriends with no particular strengths in the areas a non profit board would need, ie; Attorney, CPA, CEO, CFO, etc... I was the CEO/President with a vision. I'm creative and someone who makes things happen. I had been in management, had been running a couple businesses with my husband, so it seems that I would be a perfectly experienced CEO. What I didn't realize, was that, when it came to my friends, I was more worried about their feelings then my role as CEO. What does this mean? Well, it means that, when our newest friend join the team, odd issues began to arise. All of a sudden I was being questioned on my motive, intention, actions. Me, a person who takes so much pride in my morals and integrity. I had been (and continue to) work on a 100% volunteer basis, never spent a penny on myself or anything outside of the organization. I was actually (and still do) dropping money INTO the organization. I felt that the accusations that were being made were challenging my character and my integrity. This threw me, since I was working with my BEST FRIENDS. They KNOW me. They LOVE me, right? Well, I didn't feel that at all. I felt the worst I've ever felt in my life. Not only was my character being challenged, but this organization, that I had given my heart, blood, sweat and tears to (not to mention hundreds of sleepless nights) was being threatened. I couldn't figure out what was going on and didn't know how to fix it. I spiraled into a place I've never been. It was affecting my marriage, my friendships and my organization. Quite frankly, I was on the edge of loosing it all, simply because I was too afraid to confront it and fix it. Why was I afraid? Because my friendships meant so much to me and I didn't want to threaten them with confrontation. Problem was, I was the only one loosing in all of this. I was crying EVERY DAY for 4 months. I was consumed by what I didn't understand. I was hurting. I was miserable.
My husband had had it. He was telling me to close the organization down if I wanted to stay married. This was horrific for me. An ultimatum is always a horrible thing, but when I felt this organization was my purpose, I realized that I was in a really tough spot. I HAD to figure it out and find the solution to save it all; my marriage, my organization, my friendships... my mind.
Years before, I had read a book called, "Big Girls Don't Whine" by Jan Silvious. This book was so influential to me the first time I read it, that it was no accident, when I was on the ground, crying and praying, the day it was all falling apart, God lead me to this book once again. He led me to the chapters about "conflict" and "friendships" and it was immediately after reading these 2 chapters that I knew what I had to do. I had to pull up my "big girl" pants and handle this like a big girl. So, that's what I did....
I knew that the issues began when our newest friend got involved. She didn't set out to destroy, but she hadn't been involved along the way and I had only ever had fun with her, I never faced any conflict or issues that would have warned me that we don't work together well. We seemed to see things differently when it came to business and this was a problem in the overall big picture and vision for this particular organization. I wanted to save our friendship and I wanted to save the organization, so there was only 1 thing to do. Trust me, it wasn't easy, but I had to ask this friend to resign. I explained that I cared for her and I didn't want to loose the friendship we had had, it meant too much to me. But I also explained that this organization did too and that it's mission was my purpose, so I couldn't let it go. She agreed and kindly stepped down.
This was when everything turned around for me.
It was in this incident that I realized that I was running a business. Non profits are a business and that was a crucial realization for me. I felt God was testing me to see if I was cut out to continue this for him. I am so grateful that I passed this test. For me, this is what I have realized. That this was all supposed to happen for the greater good of the organization, and for me.
I'm happy to share that today, 6 years since this pivotal moment, this organization has thrived. All but the one friend is still involved today!!! (***I'm still friends with her though! yay!) We have a business oriented Executive Board and a team of awesome friends who make up our Advisory Board! Not only that, but we also have about 15 volunteers who we call "Wishbrigade".
We are fulfilling wishes for incredible individuals in our community with either life threatening illness or traumatic injury. We all have become part of the Charity for Charity Family and this family is close and loving and special.
I am the proud CEO and President of a ethical, transparent and God based non profit that has great reviews from several non profit sites, including the BBB.
We have reached over $100,000 in gross income over the past couple of years and take pride in over 80% of our net income going directly to our cause. I still work on 100% volunteer basis and I only have 1 paid employee. We have a great 100% donated office in Old Town Temecula and have grown to the point of hosting 2 to 4 other events, besides Stars of the Valley, each year!
Many lives are blessed by this organization, from its beneficiaries, to its volunteers, to this community... especially mine...
It's my honor to have been chosen by God, to lead this organization and fulfill HIS mission for it.