THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter 22
Forming the 501 (C ) (3)
Build a new national monument, dedicated to Freedom and America’s Heroes and then use the Angel’s figure as a logo, which can go on almost anything and raise the needed dollars to take care of our returning vets; that was the basic idea. But how do you expedite it? Where would the money come from? I tried to give the Angel to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. so that they could re-build their hospital without raising taxes but that was illegal because of the separation of civilian world and that of the military. I tried to gift the Angel to other non-profits, which was not well received to say the least. They saw me as a threat, as someone who would be taking money away from them! No one wanted to piggy back the idea, so that too was a bust. By default, I was backed into a corner. Either I had to give up the idea altogether or form a non-profit of my own. Well Best Beloved, this is what happened. (I decided to write about this process, just in case someone out there wants to start their own non-profit one day.)
I did not really understand what a Board of Directors or a Board of Advisors was or what the member’s responsibilities would be. I only knew that in order to get a Federal 501(C) (3) I ne
eded to have these people on board in order form a Foundation. “No problem,” I thought to myself, and just started calling up my friends and neighbors, explaining to them what I wanted the Freedom Angel Foundation to do. I said that it would not cost them any money and that I only needed to make use of their names, addresses and bragging rights. (In retrospect, the “no money bit “ may not have been the best way to start a Foundation. I mean ignorance really is bliss, isn’t it?) I was on a steep learning curve! I have since learned that non-profits lean, lurch and lumber along at their own pace. They move ahead very slowly, and many non-profits fail. (No one told me about the failing bit either.) So I rounded up some members for the Board of Directors and some for the Board of Advisors. Dr. David Lincicome, now our secretary/ CEO, shouldered the Federal filings for us. Without his knowledge and experience with these matters, there would never have been a Freedom Angel Foundation..... of this you can be absolutely sure. The filing papers were more than two inches thick! The fee for the filing was $800.00. This exercise took several months to accomplish. The filing process began on January 1, 2010. On July16, 2010 we became an official, Federal, 501(C) (3 ) Non-Profit! Phew! Later on, I will print out for you, all of our expenses so that you can see what we have gone through in order to make it possible for the Freedom Angel to fly. It is really quite interesting to follow our dollars, and begin to understand exactly what good deeds do cost!
Slowly, very slowly, I began to realize the enormity of this undertaking. I thought that this challenge would be an easy one. I knew that I could do my part making a sculpture of an Angel and I thought that if I did my part, which was that of a clay-pusher that the rest of my plan would naturally fall into place. Well not exactly!
I believed that I could enlarge the little Lockerbie Angel to thirty feet in height, creating a new national monument that celebrates America, recognizing the unselfish service of the men and women who protect her. I wanted to unify our country again, by understanding and acknowledging the Freedoms granted to us by God, The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Wherever our Angel is placed, it is my hope for her to become a center not only for celebrating Freedom but also a place of learning, so that future generations will continue to cherish our Founding Fathers and their most extraordinary gifts to our nation.
I have worked with the Polich Tallix Foundry for more than 40 years. They are the best in the business bar none, and I was absolutely confident that when working with this team under the leadership of Richard Polich, that we could get the job done. But how do you expedite it? Where would the money come from?
These were some of the questions asked by the directors at our first board meeting: “What is our mission? It must be clearly defined.” "How are we going to educate the entire country to support this project?" "How do we promote it and make our mission known?” “How do we market and advertise?" "Has anyone thought about the money?” “How much do we need?" "We need a sound business plan!” “We need to research thoroughly the insufficiencies suffered by other foundations." "We need to make sure that the dollars we raise actually reach those who need our help.” "We must be absolutely sure that transparency and accountability are our corner stone.”
“Maybe we can solve this problem simply and cheaply,” I said “After I get the seven foot Angel cast her in bronze, we could take her on a road trip around America in the back of my pick-up truck. By the time we get her home again, she should be as recognized as is the Red Cross insignia and then, she will be invaluable to the Foundation and to our Vets.” “That’s an interesting idea but I am not sure that it will work,” said our Chairman” “We also need a place to plant her. Any thoughts?”
I said that, “I figured that maybe The Freedom Angel should go to Washington, D.C. So I called up Parks and Recreations. The conversation went something like this.”
“YOU ARE GOING TO DO WHAAAT? No! Absolutely Not! No-No-No! You cannot just go off willy-nilly and create a new national monument. Does congress know about this? Anyway....First we would have to have a national competition in order to be politically correct! Additionally…. you might not be qualified! Space is so precious in Washington you know. And besides that, you cannot use the word monument!” “Well,” said I, “There is a pile of rocks out in the back yard, which is a monument to a dead cat. I think we can use the word monument. Besides that, there are huge shopping malls all over this country and one of them is going to want to have their parking lot filled every day of the year. I think a new national monument dedicated to America’s Heroes will do just that.” This made her very angry and that was the end of the conversation. “It is my thought that the Freedom Angel should belong to the people and should have a common placement where anyone can go a visit her any day of the year.” Well…. Innocence is bliss and God protects the innocent and the stupid. Never the less, I was ready to attack this challenge with both guns blazing.
Through Artspan.com, I was able build a basic website which you can visit yourself at: www.FreedomAngelFoundation.org This website defines out mission and tells you all about the Directors and Advisors on board. It also allows visitors to make donations on line. Artspan.com is an outstanding website for artists. It is inexpensive about $19.95 a month and they take no commission on sales. Close to 100% of all my sales are because Artspan.com does a great job. Setting up your own website pages are easy to do and the company markets its websites around the world. You can’t beat that!
Once the 501(C)(3) was established, we originated a mailer to our own lists of friends and neighbors, detailing the mission of the Foundation. Little by little, the dollars started to come in. Soon we had enough money to commission the Foundry to enlarge the little Lockerbie Angel to seven feet in height. Seven feet is the size when finished, that we will enlarge to its final height of thirty feet. In the event that I should die during construction, the seven-foot figure will be executed so precisely that the Polich Tallix team could finish the new thirty-foot monument without me. I did not think that this undertaking would be a problem for me, as I have done this sort of work before, but I had no idea of the time-line for this project, as there were so many unknowns.
In April 2010, the enlargement process was started in the Polich Tallix Foundry by Peter Ross, who specializes in sculpture enlargement. We worked together as a team to grow the Angel from a twelve-inch bronze to a seven-foot clay. Although enlargements are proportionately exact, they must be detailed and finished by the sculptor. Originally, I had planned to bring the Angel back to Roxbury and finish the clay here at home. I had quite forgotten that an additional eighteen inches would be added to the height of the figure due to the size of the supporting platform for the sculpture and the large rubber casters (wheels) that support the platform and allow you to move the whole structure about quite easily. “ O-good-grief! ” I suddenly realized that I had a door and ceiling problem and that it would not be possible to finish the clay original at home!
“Where am I going to finish the seven foot clay,” said I to myself?
“Time for creative thinking to kick in…Think….Think….. Think! How about the Danbury Fair Mall? Mmmmmm…. Huge doors, high ceilings, music, air-conditioning, flush toilets, McDonald’s and Subways…I mean what more could an artist want? What a great idea Sterett! Wow! Now that really would be a perfect studio…. that is, if I can persuade the “powers-that-be” into letting me work right there in public, in the middle of their Mall. Mmmmmm. This might also be a great way to introduce our mission the nation. Maybe we could have a reception of some sort. Maybe an official debut?” It sounded good to me, inside my head. “I wonder if the board members will concur.”
More chapters are coming... as they happen. XOS