Tag Archives: goals

What’s the Plan Stan?


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It’s hard to imagine that a little under a year ago the idea of The Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home didn’t even exist. Since then of course it’s become an all-consuming fire of urgency.

I  just wanted to take a moment to share with you where we have been and where we think we are being led. On July 21 last year I determined there was  need for a residential maternity home for pregnant teens in St. Charles County. The next several months were filled with research, phone calls, and visiting other maternity homes. I started recruiting board members and volunteers in August and September. In September Quinn Murphey orchestrated Armstrong and Teasdale agreeing to do all of our legal work for us at no cost. On October 4 we had our first board meeting at the Schnucks’s Deli with Kevin Thompson, Amber Teigen, Adam Eaton, and Scott Sigmund.  Scott McHenry had our website going live in December. We finished up the year with a very intimate Christmas party with dreamers sitting around my kitchen table thinking of “what ifs…”

We started off the new year with Dan Cooper helping us to receive our non-profit status from the IRS on Jan 12, 2011. Susan Zimmerling hosted our first fundraiser on February 2. During this time I worked to make relationships with the community through the YMCA, Rotary, and Community Council. I contacted many churches, individuals, and civic groups letting them know we were coming. We collaborated with Bridgeway Behavioral Health for our first 5k fundraiser in April followed by a beautiful benefit concert in May hosted by Zion Lutheran Church  I connected with Casey Graham, our friend at givingrocket.com, who developed our first capital campaign. Through these efforts we were able to raise almost $34,000 in the month of May through individual contributions and local church support. I attended as many Non Profit trainings and webinars as my schedule allowed. My reading list of resource books and blogs was sometimes staggering. It’s been a compelling year of growth, prayer, learning, and focused determination.

This past month our brave board decided to fast forward the timeline of The Sparrow’s Nest. Instead of opening in another 18-24 months we are dedicated to opening our doors in 12 months. Mark your calendars now to attend our ribbon cutting ceremony in July 2012.

I’ve laid out a very optimistic but aggressive timeline for the next 12 months. As one of our volunteers said, “if we’re going to do this, and this is really a need, then let’s move now.”

So on July 30, 2011 we will have a focused time of prayer and praise at the O’Fallon YMCA to dedicate the next 12 months to God’s leading. Our Strategic Plan will be finalized  by August 5 allowing us to go after major funding from grants and foundations. By August 30 we will have all the information gathered for the ordinances, permits, and licenses required to operate. We need massive manpower to get this underway in this amount of time so September 2011 will be a major volunteer recruitment month for us.

Our next two major fundraisers will be our October 1 Sparrow Scramble and our Celebration on November 12th. We will finish out the year with another letter appeal. By December 30 we will have determined a general location.

We will start out next year flying. We plan to purchase or have a lease on a home by January 20. By March 30 all of our permits and licences will be acquired. By May 30 our staffing will be complete and by the following month their initial training will be finished.

By July 30, 2012 we will be operational finally  able to see our mission in action.

It’s a lot of hard work requiring laser intensity and focus. We need your prayers. We need your financial support. We need your insight, ideas, and help. This is such an exciting part of our history to be a part of. We are literally starting from the ground up. And the sky is the limit of what we can accomplish together!

So that’s the plan Stan. And we’re praying with all our hearts this is God’s plan for The Sparrow’s Nest. We can’t lose sight of what we are really working towards. We want to restore young girls to the love of God. We want to give their precious babies a very strong start to life. We want to be used by God to ease a portion of social injustice.

What’s your plan?


Toe Dipper or Cliff Diver?

Cliff diving with JT

Image by 4ELEVEN Images via Flickr

Are you a toe dipper or a cliff diver? Do you need to test the temperature of the water or do you jump in with both feet first? However you’re wired we can use you at The Sparrow’s Nest!

Things are rocking and rolling and we need more manpower to keep this momentum and keep moving us closer to opening and ultimately helping young girls and saving innocent babies lives. We need leaders as well as “doers.” These are specific tasks you can look back on in 30 years and tell your grandkids “I helped at the beginning to form The Sparrow’s Nest into what it is today.”

We’re pulling through our strategic plan and specific needs are starting to surface. The following list is very fluid and will be defined more clearly in the coming months. Send Carissa an email at carissa@thesparrowsneststl.org if you would like more information about certain needs. Just because you respond doesn’t mean we’re signing you up for life! 🙂  All of the committees that develop will either be led by a Board Member or will have board representation. Make sure to send these needs on to friends, family members, or community contacts whom you think might be better equipped for these jobs.

In all of these things continue to pray for The Sparrow’s Nest and for these tasks to be completed in a quick and timely manner and that they would be filled with integrity and honor.

facilities: Volunteers Needed to: Identify all codes, licenses, and ordinances required by state, county, and city to operate a residential treatment home for minors. Volunteers are also needed to help find a general site for the facility. Volunteers are also needed to develop procedure and policies for the management and upkeep of the property.

Residential Services: Volunteers are needed to develop policies and procedures for residential services for the girls and their babies. This would include developing plans for parenting and life skill curriculum, educational plans and expectations for the girls, intake, etc. This would also include developing medical plans as well as physician and hospital relations.

Personnel: Volunteers are needed to develop a expectations of staff that will be used to form job descriptions. Volunteers are also needed to help develop  a framework of human resource development and payroll.

Community Relations: Volunteers are needed to develop a community relations plan designed to support a continuing intentional relationship with the community. Volunteers are needed to act as liaisons with churches and civic groups and The Sparrow’s Nest. Volunteers are needed to develop and host periodic networking events to link comment and church resources together.

Marketing/Development: Volunteers are needed to develop and maintain general outreach material such as newsletters, flyers, brochures, videos, social media campaigns. Volunteers are needed to research and/or write grants for funding of The Sparrow’s Nest. Volunteers are needed to hold fundraising activities for raising general or specific funds.

Finance: Volunteers are needed to continue to develop and maintain systems and procedures for management of funds as well as review monthly statements. Volunteers are needed to complete all IRS requirements as well as annual report.

Administrative: Volunteers are needed for upkeep of database, developing office procedure, maintaining calendar and scheduling, writing thank you cards, organizing mailings.

If you give a mouse a cookie,…

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

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I’ve been using the analogy of Laura Numeroff’s books lately to explain the process of starting The Sparrow’s Nest. Her titles include “If you give a Mouse a Cookie,” “If you give a Moose a Muffin,” “If you give a Cat a Cupcake,” as well as “If you give a Pig a Pancake.” The basic premise for all the books is if you give the main character an item it reminds them that they want something else that is bigger and better and more than likely, more complicated.

Today has been one of those days for The Sparrow’s Nest. I started really researching and applying for grants today. But when I started applying our tax exempt number does not show up yet electronically on the IRS website so we are automatically declined for the grants. Don’t misunderstand we do have our 501C3 status, but the IRS explained our status won’t show up electronically until sometime after June even though we’ve had the number since January 12. 2011. I also went to apply for our Missouri Maternity Home tax credit today. This will help our donor’s dollars go further by not only have a tax exempt donation but receiving an actual tax credit for that donation. But we can’t get that until we have a letter from the Department of Social Services Children’s Division stating we are in good standing. But we can’t get that until we have an actual home to be licensed and of course, you see where I’m going. We can’t get a home until we have sufficient funds.

A vicious circle when you’re just trying to do the right thing.

However discouraging and confusing this journey becomes I know God is going to see it through to the end. I still have no doubt that this service is desperately needed for our area. Further proof was supplied on the April 13, 2011 report from Putting Kids First. The following is an excerpt.

Compared with the cost of 130 unwed parents and teenage parents who may require up to two years of public assistance, which could cost St. Charles County $2,600,000 (130 parents x $10,000 x 2 years), we believe St. Charles County will benefit more from expanding its existing services to develop productive healthy families. The savings to the taxpayers would be over $1.7 million every two years.The establishment of a maternity group home with a capacity for six (6) teen mothers (averaging 12 mothers per year) at a daily cost of $185 would cost $405,150. (6 mothers x 365 days x $185 = $405,150) Please note these estimated costs are based on current Youth In Need direct service cost experience. They do not include inflationary costs. These cost estimates are also consistent with the contract experience of other providers. The $185 per day cost can be further broken down as follows:


$102 per day for housing and 24 hour supervision


$83 per day for counseling and case management, which includes intake, service planning and linkage, prenatal and post partum care coordination, individual, group and family counseling, and discharge and aftercare services.

The total cost for both programs above is $821,150. ($416,000 + $405,150 = $821,150)

The capacity to provide services to teenage parents has dropped slightly since the last survey, but the demand for services has remained the same. Since the closing of the only group maternity home in the region, no facility has taken its place. The Pregnancy Resource Center is interested in spearheading an effort to locate a group maternity home within the County, but funds have not been raised.

I know you can see the financial mountain we have to climb. $400, 000 seems insurmountable. But I have faith in our community. I have faith in God’s people. We will find the funds we need. We will get the licenses we need. We will provide the services needed in our community. We will minister to the young women of St. Charles. God is faithful.

Let me know how you have experienced God’s faithfulness. Share how an unsure time revealed God’s plan for your life.

Consider supporting us financially through our Secure Give site: https://sparrowsnest.securegive.com

Just Shootin’ the Breeze Tonight

When all is said and done I may just write a book about this experience. Maybe I can give someone a clear path on learning how start something like The Sparrow’s Nest. Because the Lord knows I could use such a book.

I’ve always been a dreamer…someone who can see the big picture. I’ve always figured the details will work themselves out or someone else will figure those things out. This time is different. Suddenly it falls on me to determine the details and the minutia. So tonight, I’m just going to process what’s in my head tonight here on the blog. Just shoot the breeze and let you know what I’ve been up to lately

So far this week my time has been spent developing our mailing list with about 2-3 other volunteers. We’re gearing up for our first big mailing at the end of April. However, I’ve impressed even myself by setting up an Envelope Stuffing Party on Tuesday March 29 at 6:30. Yes, I know…a FULL MONTH before the letters need to go out for our 30K in 30 Days Campaign in May. I have to say I’ve impressed even myself. 🙂

My main goal right now is the 3o K in 30 Days campaign. I really need the community support to be able to start applying for startup seed money grants from foundations. We’re switching our online giving to Secure Give in a week or so. Then you’ll be able to set up your monthly giving. I hope you are starting to pray about what your family can do for The Sparrow’s Nest each month. I have no idea the blessings that will come from that act of giving from you but I know it honor God. That’s when powerful things start to happen.

I met with Casey Graham who really helped me laser in on our fundraising goal and made it a little more streamline. AKA what is the bare minimum we need to open. Turns out the house is not our major obstacle. We need major financial help for the staffing needs.I also met with Steve Awtry and Tammy Romain from Christian Family Services to share our vision and dream a little dream together. I contacted Melanie McIlroy as our real estate agent. I hope to start looking at some properties with her.

I’ve sent out what feels like hundreds of emails hoping to talk with church leaders and civic leaders. I’ll start following up with phone calls for the next two days. I’ve also been following up with a few businesses I thought might sponsor the 5k race on April 30. The link is up at http://www.bridgewaybh.com

I have quite a few books going right now to learn as fast as I can. I’m reading the Zen of Fundraising, Emyth, Guidebook to Group Homes, and How to Influence. I wish I could just lay them on my head and the knowledge would pour forth. I’ve applied for two small grants mostly to help our blog and website. That was interesting trying to guess at what they wanted me to say.

It seems like everything is important and urgent at the same time. It’s hard to come up with a game plan. I’m mucking through it but I have to say it’s probably not very pretty.

I would appreciate your prayers. Prayers for wisdom and guidance for me. Prayers for clear objectives and direction. Prayers for our funding. Prayers for our board’s creativity and problem solving. And always prayers for the girls, prayers for their babies, prayers for their families.


If I could just have a moment of your time

Tell the truth, what’s your first reaction when you see people standing outside your grocery store collecting money or certain door knocking religious types walking up your street? What do you do when someone taps you on the shoulder and asks, “if I could just have a moment of your time? Do you suddenly get a phone call you have to take right then? Does something of utmost importance suddenly become lost in your purse or pocket forcing you to look for it right then rather than making eye contact? “I’m sorry, I  just see you standing there ringing your bell because I needed that very important, um, critical…thingey that was stuck..in the …um, thingey.

During our board meeting this week I encouraged our amazing board members to develop their elevator speech about The Sparrow’s Nest. I wanted us to intentionally think through this exercise so we would be ready to share our ministry with anyone on a moment’s notice. I encouraged them to start by thinking of someone in their life that loves them unconditionally and without a doubt is proud of them. Then I asked them to think about what 3 words that person would use to describe them. Would it be beautiful, handsome,or  godly? What about  innovative, hard-working, or creative?

Chris Brogan comes up with 3 words each year rather than resolutions. He says he comes up with three words that will be his guiding pillars for what he will focus on in the coming year. On his blog he states “instead of resolutions, which don’t usually help me very much, I work hard on using these words as a lighthouse for my actions and efforts.”

If I could just have a moment of your time I’d like to share  my 3 words for The Sparrow’s Nest in 2011:




Now granted 2 of my 3 words are technically 2 words themselves but let’s get past that.:)


Everything we do at The Sparrow’s Nest is motivated by what has been done for us at the cross. We can show grace, mercy, and love because we have been given a full measure of grace, mercy, and love. We can share compassion, forgiveness, and peace because we have been shown compassion, forgiveness, and peace.


Whenever I talk with our incredible volunteers and board members, or share our mission with the community there is definite sense of positive anticipation and  a charge of electric excitement. I translate that energy into hope. We are hope filled not because we know without a doubt this mission will come to fruition in the near future but we are hope filled because we know we have an amazing opportunity to share this hope with those vulnerable and scared young girls. We are hope-filled because we know all of us working together will be able to transfer this hope to our community to make a lasting impact.


The Sparrow’s Nest is driven in 2011. We have a strong sense of urgency to get this ministry started. This does not mean at all that we will cut corners in any way. We will jump through any hoop we need to to and bound over any obstacle in our way but we will continue to push through with gazelle intensity to accomplish this goal. The sooner we get through all the protocol the sooner we can start helping those in need. The more people we have helping to reach this goal the quicker we can get going.

These are the 3 words I’ve chosen for The Sparrow’s Nest Maternity Home. We will continue to pray without ceasing. We will continue to follow the Holy Spirit. We will continue to be obedient to God’s calling.

What 3 words to do pick for yourself this year?