Starting of a Non Profit
I recently started a nonprofit organization. Not infrequently, I wonder to myself what I could possibly have been thinking that made this seem like a good idea. I currently have three kids, two jobs, and a new house; extra time is not something I have laying around the house these days. On top of that, nonprofits, it turns out, need money to operate, and I am no fundraiser. Am I crazy? The jury’s still out on that one.
Usually when I start questioning myself like this I run myself through the thinking process that brought me here. I also run a private counseling practice here in Baltimore, and most of what I do involves marriage and family counseling (which, I have discovered in the years since Wurzweiler, is what I love and do best). My experience and skills touch on various topics under this broad umbrella – apart from counseling couples and families in distress, I do pre-marital counseling, parenting classes, sexual abuse prevention education, and more. The problem is that, while people will (sometimes) pay for counseling when their relationships are suffering, they rarely do when they are not. This is unfortunate, because as we know, prevention works a lot better than remediation.
I believe strongly that in a society when half of marriages end in divorce, marriage education would a do a world of good for folks in the early stages of a relationship. People with children would likely fare much better if they could spend some time preparing for what is coming their way with toddlers, tweens, teens and everything in between. Children would be spared a lot of pain if we could protect them from sexual abuse rather than try to heal them from it.
But again, getting folks to pay out of their pockets for such services is sometimes a tall order. And so it became clear to me that setting up an organization where I could seek donations and grants would get a lot more of this education out there. So I do have a good answer as to why; but how is still a question I’m working on.
You know how when you read the stories people tell of how they got to be the CEO of such and such organization, or how they built up such and such foundation from scratch, they often describe how they started from nothing and just kept at it without knowing exactly how it would succeed? That’s me. I really don’t know how this is going to happen. I know there are grants out there, there are donors out there, but, as I said, I’m no fundraiser. So I’m learning the ropes. Maybe one day down the road I’ll be the king of a Marriage and Family Enhancement Empire, and I’ll be telling you about the times when I was starting from scratch. But now I am just at the bottom of the mountain, getting ready for a big climb.
Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, graduated the Block Program in 2009. He is currently the director of the Baltimore Therapy Center as well as the Montgomery County Abuser Intervention Program.