Thursday, July 28, 2011

Manifesto: My dream for the Jordan Klausner Foundation

17276_10100297826844431_2050245_63681112_7110911_nI've remained with The Jordan Klausner Foundation because I've always viewed it as a frame for the ultimate goal: doing good. It seems like it has the correct elements, a good concept and everyone's hearts are in good place. We are, it seems all on one page as to what we want to do and how we want to do it. Yes, the organization has been around for about twelve years and yes, it hasn't been very visible. As always, there are good reasons for it. The staff mostly volunteers their time and arguably, without being a lean professional machine chances are lost and opportunities are wasted. I also think that something happened between now and the time that the foundation was formed. The original volunteers, the parents that  had it started and their kids moved on. Also, years later, the initial enthusiasm of the Klausner family may have been cooled by the harsh reality: It is not that easy to help people, to reach out to those who we may benefit, but they don't know it yet, to find and inspire donors. Initial setup worked when it was about close friends and family coming together for a purpose but is limiting when we need to take the next step, open up and expand. Two concepts are key to what we do and that really speaks to me:"disability" and "community". We will always do things locally, support businesses, marketers and web designers that are from here.

  When I close my eyes I see the conductive education program growing. And I see it only as a beginning. I would like the Jordan Klausner Foundation to become a center, a hub if you will, for disability therapies and awareness. Horses and water worked wonders for me, I would like to see them as part of an inclusive, structured therapy program. As well as music and art therapy, paraffin wax heat treatment and herbal baths and massages to limit the spasticity, manual therapy and working with resistance. We need to find transportation for kids especially if they are not from here and in the future, think about accommodations for families.  I grew up with  cerebral palsy which left me with a lot of self confidence/self image  issues and phobias, so I see a strong need of having a psychologist on board. A legal assistance and civil rights program is a dream pet project of mine that I always hope to fund via a grant from the Florida Bar Foundation. I would like to work with marketers and PR experts to launch a bunch of public awareness campaigns. The problem is not only in how much or how little the disability community is aware of their rights, but how individuals with disability are perceived by the public and how visible they are. I also thought about scholarships for students in advanced degree programs to  help offset problems with standardized testing I have experienced myself. Lastly, I would like for us to be involved with socially relevant art and media projects of fresh up and coming creators.

  A lot of those things cannot be accomplished without money, because for most we can't rely on volunteers to provide them, at least in a structured, continuous manner. To do this, our Foundation needs to change. We may be small, but we have to be professional. That's why I'm seeking out help from grant writers and marketers, because I'm not qualified in those areas. Any non profit needs a continuous stream of funding to hire dedicated staff that will work just on this, all the time not just part time, to make all those things happen for us. What we need now is funding. Writing grant applications has little to do with inspiring stories and visions. It's focused, detailed, technical, repetitive. This is were my experience comes in: I'm not only an attorney, but I was a chairman of a foundation that I started for two years and being a media writer for six years exposed me to enough marketers and PR people to know what needs to happen although I can't do it myself.  We can carry James Klausner's dream further if we are open minded and adapt. But we gotta get started to get started.