First years of anything are exciting, challenging, fun, and sometimes stressful. Think back to your first year of college, your first job, or your first year as a parent. But first years also go by very quickly! All of us at The Special Needs Trust Network (SNTN) have experienced all of these same emotions over this past year on our way to starting a new non-profit, reaching out into the community, and working with new clients.
It seems so long ago in early 2010 that Rita Blackwood and myself attended a Colorado State University career event and I mentioned my desire to join a non-profit board. Rita responded with the surprising comment that she was happy to hear me say that as she was looking at starting a new non-profit special needs trust and wanted to ask me to join her. She then said, “Do you think the rest of Team C would like to help?” I responded that I thought they would and suggested she send an email that evening. Early the next morning Donna Sue and David had agreed to join in.
“Team C” consisted of Rita Blackwood, Karen Bordner, Donna Sue Mastalka, and David Cutler. We were put together as complete strangers during our first week during a class at CSU’s Executive MBA program and we stayed together as a study team for the twenty-one month program. Through weekly classes, study group meetings, writing papers and developing presentations we shared intelligent conversations, laughs, a 10 day international study tour with our entire class during the hottest summer on record for Europe, and yes I’ll admit to a few drinks being involved! After graduation we’ve remained friends, attended CSU events or additional classes, and enjoyed each others company without the stress of what next project was due for class. Rita, David, and Donna Sue are three of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met and I’m grateful and honored for their friendship. As a group we’re thankful, happy, and proud that CSU’s Department of Business decided to profile us in just our first year of operation with the article, “Executive MBA Graduates Working to Protect the Assets of the Disabled.”
We started The Special Needs Trust Network (SNTN) to offer a special needs pooled trust in the state of Colorado, reach out to various disability groups directly and by using social media, and offer a high standard of financial, care management, and advocacy to clients. Over 2010 we met monthly and worked virtually to develop business, marketing plans, financials, bylaws, operating agreement, trust documents, company mission and narrative along with filling out the IRS 1023. While waiting for the IRS decision we continued working on strategy, working with a wonderful artist Dave Staub/Element 95 on our logo design and a fabulous writer, Mari Christie to design our brochure, web content, and web page, and interviewed financial institutions to find the best and most secure options for our clients investments.
And finally on February 23, 2011 we received the IRS Letter of Determination! By coincidence this fell on the night of our monthly board meeting and while we celebrated that night we knew the work wasn’t over but had only just begun. As a special needs pooled trust the state of Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) had to review and approve our trust documents but only after we received our 501c3. We were still along way from accepting and helping clients, but we were one step closer.
So tonight at another board meeting we will celebrate one year of having our 501c3 status as well as meeting yearly goals and moving forward in serving those who are truly in need or our services. Stay tuned for more updates, and information as we move into our second year.
Happy 1st Birthday, SNTN!