This is something I've wanted to do for years, but have been too scared to try. The therapy world in Texas the past few years has gone significantly downhill because of a lack of funding. I'll spare you the details, but it has meant 3 paycuts for me over the past 2 years, and this most recent one (last week) was a 15% cut. Ouch.
In the meantime, I started a separate travel Instagram account (@properjetiquette) to share all the other photos I take on trips. I started posting some of the therapy trips I've done as well. I've had the account for a year and have about 30,000 followers. I started getting hundreds of messages from other therapists saying how I've inspired them to take a therapy trip, or to plan their fieldwork placements abroad, etc. I've had SO many people tell me they've been looking for a volunteer therapy placement organization and that all they hit are dead ends.
I've been there. It's a LOT of work to plan a therapy trip to make sure you are 1.) Going to a legitimate place and 2.) Not paying ridiculous amounts to a placement organization where they are keeping a ton of it for themselves. So many people have told me, "I can't believe something like Doctors Without Borders doesn't exist for therapists". Enter me.
The downhill of my job combined with the uphill of the Instagram and how much incredible support I've gotten on there from therapists around the WORLD (I'm talking messages from therapists anywhere from Finland to Brazil to Vietnam to Iran) has given me the push over the edge that I needed to get this started. This is still a HUGE risk. But the time is now and I know that I need to try.
I present to you: Therapists Without Borders.
My mission for Therapists Without Borders is to empower people with disabilities around the world through free physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. This will be an organization that connects professional and compassionate therapists to volunteer placements in areas of need across the globe, with a large focus on caregiver education and training.
Here's where I'm at so far:
I dropped down to part-time at work at the start of the new year so that I would have the time I needed to commit to this because I was driving myself into the ground, super stressed, and my social life had tanked. I've since completed a class on how to start a nonprofit, hired a board of directors consisting of myself, a VP, secretary, treasurer, and social worker. I hired an attorney to help with all the next legal steps.
I'm at the point now where I'm panicking about the financial side of this, especially with now being part-time and my most recent paycut, so I'm turning to GoFundMe to hopefully help with the startup costs. Furthermore, I am hoping to attend the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) conference in Cape Town this May to promote Therapists Without Borders, network, and hopefully gain an even larger army behind me. This conference only meets once every 4 years, so if I'm going to go big and go global with this, I have to be there now!!
Here are all the costs I'm incurring:
Attorney fees: $1,000
Texas Certificate of Formation - Nonprofit Corporation: $25
EIN application: free
Texas Name Reservation form: $40
Trademark Application form: $275
Form 1023 for tax exempt 501(c)(3) status: $600
State tax exemption form: free
Logo: free, thanks to my talented sister Jill for turning my vision into reality!
Website design: free, thanks to my talented hubby Brian!
Website domain: $24
Website hosting: $72
Public liability insurance: $300
WFOT conference registration: $1,100
Exhibition booth at WFOT: $1,500
WFOT lodging: $400?
WFOT flight: $1,000
WFOT meals: $200
Marketing materials (business cards, banners, brochures, swag): $1000?
(-->See Update 1 for updated fees and story!)
If possible, I'd also love to fit in a therapy trip this year to build up a program to send other therapists to, but that will also depend on finances: $1,500
Anything extra will go towards attending the national physical therapy and speech therapy conferences in the US to get more PTs and SLPs on board, or program development for a next therapy trip.
Our Airbnb personal travel fund has done a good job of covering our personal trips, combined with me being a flight deal ninja ($495 nonstop to New Zealand OMG), and finding cheap places to stay (I'm talking $10 a night in Malaysia and $1.50 dinner), and combined with sponsorships in exchange for social media posting (safari), but those won't make the cut for all the rest of this. The conference trip will be BY FAR the most expensive trip I've ever done, and I'm starting to even doubt going now, even though I know how valuable of an investment it will be.
It can take up to a year to gain 501(c)(3) status, which I need before I can start writing grants and going after big donors to hopefully fund the future operating of Therapists Without Borders.
Your support means the world to me, whether it's verbal words of encouragement, a physical hug, or a financial donation. I'm feeling quite small right now with a huge dream that I know I have to chase. Wish me luck!!!
Here's a link to my blog about my most recent therapy trip to Kenya: http://properjetiquette.com/my-kenya-therapy-experience/
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