Hello everyone! We are taking this moment to update our story - much has happened since we first wrote it! Our path to our sustainment and growth is evolving as we become more attuned to the needs of running a charter boat company.
IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME VISITING OUR CAMPAIGN, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE SECTION MARKED
"BELOW IS OUR ORIGINAL STORY"
The most critical news to share is that without fail we continue to meet our mission by providing vets and their families with a day sail or sunset trip free of charge - without exception - whenever they ask. Now for an update on where we have been and where we plan to go over the next year.
Our general public trips continue to provide us with some of the funding to meet the mission and have allowed us to purchase some much-needed equipment or acquire critical services:
1. Obtained experienced on-call certified mechanic
2. Replaced several boat parts, including a raw water pump impeller, primary and secondary fuel filter/water separators.
3. Purchased multiple tools for engine maintenance and woodworking
4. Stockpiled rope to replace running rigging
5. Purchased critical safety equipment: Several children's-sized lifejackets and a boarding steps
6. Repaired outboard engine
7. Purchased a new head (mentioned in the last update)
8. Replaced two running lights
9. Finally - if you sailed with us you know how much we talked about replacing the sail and seat covers. We purchased the fabric and lined up a canvas maker.
We have several items still on our to-do/to-acquire list (this is not comprehensive):
1. Complete sail and seat cover replacement
2. Bottom repair work
3. Re-rig the boat
4. Purchase paint for the entire boat
5. Purchase crew shirts
6. Purchase shirts and assorted marketing items to sell
7. Purchase lights and other winter/holiday items for our specialty November/December cruises
8. Secure start-up funding for Liberty Launch Phase 2, which includes help to recruit and support crew over the off-season and the additional materials/labor required to make Principio shine for all of you next spring
With the success of our organization’s Phase 1, we will begin Phase 2, which will include shifting our model and our approach to meet the needs of all our passengers. However, one thing will never change, and that is our mission to do the right thing for vets, active duty military and families:
1. We plan to establish a corporate triad to form the Liberty Launch Group, which will consist of the current Liberty Launch organization for management and marketing functions, Working Sail to cover operations, and a newly formed 501(c) 3 – known as a fiscal sponsor – comprised of all vets and active duty military. Benefit companies such as Liberty Launch are designed to partner with non-profits to enhance the ability to meet their missions.
2. Establishing this new structure will require a concerted, time-intensive effort made by very few, but to survive we must grow and support the infrastructure (more boats, crew, and captains) and more marketing.
3. We will work with holistic providers to develop mental health plans, including yoga and meditation.
4. We will establish a corporate sponsorship package for companies that wish to support a great mission and have access to sailing for their leadership and employees.
5. We will be recruiting much-needed crew, visiting colleges (in-person or virtually) to establish internships. (We need crew now - today - it's not just about sailing!)
6. We will be traveling to meet boat owners and boat designers to expand the fleet
7. The list is endless–we must keep the momentum going!
We continue to do everything possible to be a self-sustaining organization, and we have worked tirelessly with a VERY small crew wearing many hats. This round of support from the crowd is critical to achieving our goals and our mission. No amount is too small – every single dollar we earned over the summer was stretched to its fullest capacity to ensure we never had to disappoint a vet and his or her family (or any of our passengers) when they called seeking the enjoyment and tranquility that only comes from time on the water.
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Liberty Launch Website
BELOW IS OUR ORIGINAL STORY:
What We Do & How We Came To Do It...
Liberty Launch VSO, Benefit Inc. is a startup Maryland benefit corporation innovating access to recreational therapy for veterans, active military members and their families. With the launch of our first vessel in summer 2020 we will provide sailing excursions at no cost to the Greater Military Community and their families on the Lower Susquehanna River and the Upper Chesapeake Bay.
Far too often, we discovered that a lot of charter boat companies only offered veterans and active duty military members excursions at small discounts and with complicated restrictions, so we decided to change that. The result is Liberty Launch, a mission driven, market-sustained benefit company that provides therapeutic sailing experiences to all veterans, military personnel and their families at no cost, at all times, without restrictions.
Why We Are Using GoFundMe: "When businesses make money from directly helping people, we all win."
We are approaching our service mission in a new way, one that most organizations have not tried; not only by offering services at no cost to a select worthwhile group, that's nothing new, but by organizing our effort in literally a new way (more on benefit corporations below). We are not free from startup costs, overhead and taxes; yes, we are going to provide this great service to Vets AND pay corporate taxes! In fact, we will pay taxes on all the funds raised here.
We need your financial support to get things started. We have already given all we can as individuals, so now we are trying to use the tools at our fingertips to get us over the finish line. With your support, and especially your business, we will soon become 100% self-sustaining with funds generated by our commercial charter services which are available to everyone at a price that will surprise you!
Come see the incredible difference the price of a sunset cruise for yourself, or as a gift, can make in the fight to provide a place of peace and rest on the water to a Vet and their family.
Why We Do It
It started with a sailboat and a troubling conversation with a Vet describing his invisible wounds, followed by a desire to do the right thing. So began Liberty Launch, with its mission to enhance the quality of life for these Vets, for those still serving and for all of the families supporting their warriors. For all members of the Greater Military Community we envision a safe, supportive place far from the traumas and negative impacts of their service; a safe place where they feel secure in shared experiences of their comrades, have access to a veteran service officer, mental health providers and more, but most importantly, relief for themselves and those who day-to-day feel the impacts of their service with them. #SailingSaves
Over 6,000 veterans committed suicide each year between 2008 and 2017 due to complications arising from PTSD, other impacts of their service and related circumstances.* Liberty Launch provides rest, relaxation, camaraderie and assistance finding additional resources for veterans. The Liberty Launch difference is that we provide all of these benefits to family members as well. Bringing peace or even temporary relief to someone who struggles with caregiving means helping those who share the impacts of service alongside a veteran or active duty military member.
*see the full report here: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2019/2019_National_Veteran_Suicide_Prevention_Annual_Report_508.pdf
What the VA has to say about recreational therapy:
Sail-Powered Recreational Therapy
Recreational therapy is a proven companion to traditional physical therapy. Some have found it to be a substitute for pharmaceuticals or prescribed alongside medications, making recreational therapy a relied upon pillar of complementary, holistic and integrative health. We are combining human interaction, physical activity and the beauty of nature - fresh air and open water - to ease the impacts of service for those who place defending our country as their primary purpose. We are here for them and their families, not with mere discounts, but by making them our PRIMARY PURPOSE.
For more on complementary and integrative health:
We intend on growing far beyond our local, small town roots. With your generosity in helping with our campaign, we will have the opportunity to quickly grow our service fleet model throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Please consider the following to better understand the potential impact we may have, with your help, for our veterans, military members and their families:
* If you were to draw a 30-mile radius around our location, you would capture 30,000 vets and active duty military members.
* We are located one mile from the largest mental health inpatient facility in the VA Maryland Health Care System - it is literally in full view, just across the river!
* We are partnered with one of the few riverfront American Legion Posts, now celebrating their 100 year history.
Check out Post 47 in Havre de Grace. MD here:
* Our soft opening last summer gave us proof of concept; every Vet and family member who came aboard expressed gratitude for a life-changing experience and each passenger from the general public was enthusiastic about our benefit corporation model.
Bottom line, we know we can serve the Greater Military Community and the paying public alike.
For-Profit Company, Non-Profit Mission: a.k.a. a BENEFIT CORPORATION
Imagine a world in which the self-serving profit motives of the classic corporation have been turned towards social benefit outcomes. What would that look like? It would look like Liberty Launch VSO, Benefit Inc.
More about Maryland benefit corporations:
We bet you have never heard of a benefit corporation. That's ok, no one has and Liberty Launch would like to change that.
Think of a B-Corp as the familiar, for-profit company, but with a registered, public charity mission. B-Corps receive no tax breaks or any other form of incentive to carry out this mission; it's a regular for-profit corporation, but one with a documented, public charity mission. Liberty Launch dedicates 100% of our corporate profits to covering the cost of delivering our social benefit mission. Liberty Launch is leading by example; turning profit motivation and return on investment to power social benefits for the Greater Military Community and their families.
As Liberty Launch grows, we will be able to afford the additional costs of becoming a certified B-Corporation through a non-profit called B-Lab. To achieve this certification, we must meet additional qualifications that go beyond state law and reporting standards.
Liberty Launch will jump through all of these hoops and fees because we feel that strongly about changing the nature of private corporate culture.
About B-Lab and b-certification:
How We Will Fund Our Mission
We serve EVERYONE. We operate like every other sail-charter company out there, but instead of taking tourists out on sunset trips in Key West, we do it here at home on our beautiful Chesapeake Bay so we can serve tourists and veterans alike.
Liberty Launch will not be able to keep sailing unless our commercial charter revenue shows up. Everyone can come sailing and when they do, everyone wins. The general public is our NUMBER ONE BACKER and FINANCIAL PARTNER.
Our potential to serve our paying customers is unlimited - we are in a perfect geographic location between Baltimore and Philadelphia, with many populated suburbs within 20 miles. That means that once we are fully up and sailing, our ability to support this mission with our own profits should be simple.
We are reaching out to our neighbors here in our beautiful town of Havre de Grace, Maryland, and to the many who come visit (if you haven't - here is one more reason). Come support a vet and their family with some recreational therapy of your own!
What We Have: Our Sailboat
Our schooner, Principio, was designed by Ted Brewer, an internationally acclaimed naval architect. The boat is fitted with a full head, galley, large salon and berths for 5-6. She has a spacious cockpit and plenty of room on deck. She is easily sailed with only two crew. This is a very fast design that is much lighter and swift than she appears. Because all of Ted Brewer's 'Cor-Tens' are designed to cross oceans, Principio is dry, stable and comfortable. Sudden storms, for which the Chesapeake Bay is well known, are no problem for Principio; the party continues below while we wait out a squall.
More on Ted Brewer's body of work and our vessel, called the 'Cor-Ten' model here:
What We Need
Our vessel, Schooner Principio is fully operational, but she must be optimized to ensure an all around inviting experience for all of our guests. Please remember, our paying guests help to fund our mission. We must be at the ready for those in need of recreational sail therapy.
All funds we secure through this campaign will help cover all start-up costs associated with launching a charter boat company, including all operating and marketing costs, paying our full-time captain, recruiting and hiring crew, running the vessel, supplies, training, recouping startup costs and business development.
Specifically, we will use funds from this campaign to do some of following and hopefully much more:
1. Replace worn out sail covers
2. Upgrade navigation equipment
3. Upgrade head and galley facilities
4. Replace marine fabrics throughout
5. Convert our rigging to a safer design while maintaining sailing performance
6. Upgrade physical access to our vessel's cockpit and deck for disabled veterans
7. Cover the cost of professional development for crew members
8. Carry out routine maintenance and minor repairs, such as replace running rigging (rope)
9. Replace our current inflatable boat with a larger, newer rigid inflatable boat, one better suited to handle emergencies while underway
10. Train Veteran Service Officers and conduct outreach programs
11. Grow our "Service Fleet" model to bring our service mission to many more thousands of the Greater Military Community
12. Develop our commercial marketing capabilities to ensure our future ability to pay for all of these things and more, and to do it without needing grants or other forms of funds typically relied upon by the classic "non-profits"
And most importantly:
If we are blessed enough to surpass our initial goal, we will purchase another larger schooner to renovate, which will triple our current seating for those in need and be better able to make the money needed to independently support our charitable activities through chartering going forward.
We have a plan, we have come far, we have accomplished a lot and persevered in the face of many challenges, but we must do more and you can help us make it this last nautical mile!
A Vision For the Future
We're not seeking funding just to put one or two boats with a small crews in service on the Upper Chesapeake Bay, although that is our opening act.
If we are fortunate enough to work with a major sponsor - we can quickly reach an even bigger goal to serve our Vets and active duty military up and down the East coast. Our proprietary business model is economically viable. We're looking for the right strategic partners, with the vision and heart to do the right thing for those in need of recreational therapy and ones with the vision to get us to where we need to be so we can support our mission with our own labor instead of grants and charitable giving.
A Final Note
We have all been cooped up for months due to COVID 19. Consider how an 80-year old Vietnam Veteran feels right now. If you come out and come for a sail with us, or help fund us through this campaign, we will be able to be at the ready for that Vietnam Veteran AND his or her family!
Please join us for a day or evening of camaraderie, wind, water, wood and steel. Consider those who served or who are still serving - then think about the isolation you have felt over the past several months. Help us help them connect with the powerful healing of the Chesapeake Bay.
Other Ways to Help
We understand that not everyone is in a position to help, although we can assure you that even a $5.00 donation will make a significant difference to us. Could you please share our campaign with the people you know? Everyone knows a Vet or active duty military member - and even if they are not in need of recreational therapy they most likely know someone who is. GoFundMe comes equipped with many sharing tools - one click can make a big difference to our mission.
We THANK YOU in advance for your contribution!
Liberty Launch Team
- Jim Norris
- Jim Norris
- April Greene
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