| I've always been a bit of a hermit type of personality.
I don't mean "closed off from everyone, don't like people". Most of my readers know I am diagnosed with PTSD and Bi-Polar, PTSD makes a desire to be in a strictly controlled, no-surprises environment a common thing, but the high side of a bi-polar swing DEMANDS human interaction, usually at a frenetic, compulsive, and no-thoughts-to-consequences pace. Also, this is usually coupled with grandiosity, a fragmented plans that can't be followed through upon, or are set forth so they WILL fail, but "it's someone else's fault".
But I find myself in a situation where, at some point in the next 5 years, I am most likely going to find myself unable to drive (the neurological disability associated with chemical exposure in Desert Storm affects my vision enough I had to surrender my license, and the peripheral nervous system control is often so tenuous as to make even holding a soda can up with two hands to get a drink an iffy proposition) and without an integral support system (kids and/or wife not able and willing to drive me around, as needed)
But I still wanted to do an "acreage" thing, and I know from experience I have to have SOMETHING to keep me occupied, or I start getting...well, "odd".
Originally (for the last couple years), I had been thinking "dog breeding". Time consuming, something I could manage the "chores" of as they needed to be done, regardless of my physical or occular conditions, as they may be (I'm not expected to degrade at any noticeable rate), but research shows that responsible breeding is basically a "hobbiest" thing that works on a "pretty much breaks even" type thing, over time. You might come out ahead one year, and lose a bundle another.
But still, there is this driving desire to be out on a chunk of land with space for a couple horses, a small handfull of beeves (three, usually...one ready for slaughter, one yearling, one calf), and have something to do I won't go broke playing at, and will keep busy doing.
So I end up discussing this with my head-shrinker, who points out the hazards of someone in my situation living aloe, even if I hire someone to run me into town a couple times a week...and he comes up with a GEM that has been running rings around my head, ever since. It would fulfill all my wants/needs, and serve a GREAT purpose...and it's exactly bass-akwards from anything someone would expect someone of my political leanings to do!
I know where I can buy LARGE parcels of land, with manufactured homes, and full amenities already on them for better than $50K less than I could get out of my house. That is really all I need to start this...it really is something realistically possible, that relies on me, and only me (and some salesmanship, but I worked in auto sales, unmedicated, for several years, and kept getting promoted, so I think I have that covered).
NPO...non-profit-organization. As long as the organization shows no profit, drives any "overfunding" into improving facilities, some neccessary positions can be held by salaried persons.
So buy one of these chunks of land...put a large enough Quonset (manufactured barn, basically) on it to handle 14 horses, and appropriate tack, plus some climate control for the worst of summer and winter extremes. I would have to find a way to beg, borrow, and cajole established charities or groups interested in having the charitable write-off from this point...but buy the same sort of "trailers" used by schools as "outbuilding classrooms"---3 needed, a chow hall, and two "barracks", each with proper personal hygeine facilities built into them...and for the intent I have in mind, these facilities HAVE to be aimed at disabled use.
If I get this far...from the day I start accepting any form of donation, I have a set period to start providing services....
But what services! Just starting out, right there, go down to the nearest college education department, look for education majors, especially those who want to specialize in special education, maybe even arrange for the college to give some credit for participation. Give me a week's lead time with them, to familiarize them with the horses, tack, and such. Then have a two week sleep-over horse camp for special ed students, or for disadvantaged children, veterans with severe injuries trying to re-adjust to "The World", week long camps for autistic children (who would have to be handled separately and differently than otherwise mentally or physically challenged kids).
Work out the costs for these camps with the charities or organizations sending these "therapy patients", with an eye on adding a few milk cows, and some laying hens, and facilities, let these children (and men and women) experience collecting their own breakfast, add goats and sheep for "petting zoo" type environment, as that becomes possible.
All the while, breeding dogs, for myself --hounds- train them to eye out for snakes, so no horses are startled by one, leading to a fall and injury. If it's a "break even" hobby when trying to breed for sale, it's a "profit" hobby, if I'm breeding them to WORK, even if I never see a dime, myself.
With the research I've been doing, between 5 to 10 years, depending on my aggression in ambition, I could actually have an NPO running that provided "animal therapy" away camps, and weekend day camps, for just about every type/group of people who would benefit from it, including full time salaried NP-C for medical care (we'd be a bit out from an ambulance service...need a serious professional on-site), and in-season salaried chef, permanent assistance on animal care, and have everything from "gather your own eggs and milk, then ride a horse" to "pet a sheep, feed the goats, and go for a swim in a pool specifically designed for aquatherapy"...and I would get such a charge out of experiencing the positive responses in "patients" that the extra "off-season" work, and the difficulty balancing books to make certain it STAYS non-profit, but also pays for its own maintenance and expansion would be worth it, and more.
And since I expect, shortly, to have full time compensation from the VA, a living income for me wouldn't ever be an issue, every bit of it would be nothing more than infecting others with things I already love, but haven't had near enough time to DO, or have always wanted to do, and never had the chance...and can realistically do all of this through my own effort (no part of any aspect of this idea relies on someone else doing what I want them to do--some aspects HOPE, and expect, there will be a certain level of voluntarism, but if not, it can be worked around, again, by ME, not a "doomed to fail", and an "even if it *does* fail, everything is on the up-and-up, and I did my best to make some other people happy, even if it was for two weeks out of one year, before I discovered I didn't have the abilities required, and couldn't get them with my resources"
So, I've decided to do it...sometime within the next five years, time frame dependent on whether we jump into it later this year, or if we wait until the kids are off to college, there will be a memorial foundation named after my late mother TRYING to get up and running as a little slice of country paradise that people who ordinarily would never have the chance to experience, will come home holding a lifetime's worth of memories about their experiences.
Wish me luck, folks, this is going to take a TON of work. Work that will have to be done despite, and right in the face of, my own infirmities (which somehow makes it all the more important I do it, in some weird way).
And when it gets rolling--I'll let my readers know the official name, location, and other details, in case they have a "special someone" or an organization for special someones, that would love to participate, in any way--guests, OR people helping set up, or provide services, or whatever can be done from any part of the wide arc of potentials.
And with that, I very cordially thumb my nose at any and all beings, from Lady Luck, to whatever supernatural entities there are that decided to play so nastily with MY life. I'll damn well take your lemons, plant them, encourage the orchard to grow, harvest it, and make enough damn lemonade that ain't nobody thirsty on a hot day, in these parts!
Can you believe that all of the above is coming from the fingertips of a man who, while registered Independent, has never voted left of moderate Republican in his life, is STILL someone who proudly refers to himself as a "proud, red-blooded American Patriot"?
Still been thinking on this, did the figures today, while doing some serious legal research. I was freakin' SHOCKED! Not at expense, but at how little it would take. I would have to raise between 1.5 to 2 times what I personally could put into the project, starting out, and would have 18 months between receiving the first donation, and having to provide services (though those services have to be "booked" within 12 months).
Discounting connections through my "top-notch-exclusive-country-club" rich father, I believe dragging out $300,000-$400,000 as one-time donations, from various sources would be EASY (OK, so getting face time with the people in companies that could commit to even a $25K donation might be hard...but once I make that face time, and get the commitment, I can arrange to put off all of those commitments until late in the last fiscal quarter, where the charitable donation deductions will do the most good. And hitting some companies I KNOW I would have some ins with would be good for probably $50K-$100K each....at any rate, if I could provide a one-time commitment charity tax deduction to a relatively small number of sources, everything would be READY the following summer...and I could start "booking" for use before that.
At that point, I'd be looking at about $1,500 per "camper", if I ran 3 two week camps, and two one-week camps over a summer, paid a Nurse Practitioner for the summer, and a certified chef...and the truth is, I could run up to three more camps, and STILL have some down-time between most of them. This is running on a ratio of 4 counselors, 10 campers for all but the autism kids, and a 6 to 8 ratio for those camps.
This means that even if I'm in a position where I have to charge a fee per head, either direct to attendee, or by "scholarship" through a charity, it would be fully set up, and fully funded through the first year, almost as fast as I could get word out that it was available.
Beyond there, if I can find a way to get at least 5 year commitments out of some companies or individuals, totaling out at $80,000-$100,000, then I can charge NOTHING, or next to it, for the attendees, and STILL match a five year growth plan to where all I envision for it would be in place. Of course, that means I would also have to be adding committed contributors, as time went on, as expenses would rise along with improving amenities.
But let's be honest, folks...if you have a not-for-profit that can provide what I'm believing THIS could, finding corporate sponsors, individual donations, church-based sponsors, and similar, to the tune of (eventually) a couple hundred thousand, plus or minus, a year will not be too much of an effort. Not between the tax write-off aspect and the good-publicity potential, among a couple other considerations!
Again, lemon, orchard, high-quality/high-production lemonade. I think I'm going to have too much fun for my own good taking a swing at this!