Sunday, April 14, 2013

12 Weeks and Counting!

Tuscaloosa Rising

                         GOAL:      $3820
                      RAISED:      $475
                         NEED:       $3345

The image above is one that I captured on my first day at "ground zero" in Tuscaloosa. There was something about this that just grabbed my attention - HARD. That is sheet metal, from a tin roof hanging in the branches. There was a house behind this tree at some point - it's hard to image that now.

Our mission is far more important than just filling empty picture frames. I know we all "get" that on some level but there are many facets to what we're doing. Lots of times, people are going to be talking. They will tell you all about the storm, all about what it was like, how they got away or how they rode it out. Our job isn't just to take a pretty picture of a family - we're lay counselors too. Listen carefully to what people are telling you. Pay attention to the people around you - not only the family in front of your lens. In prior mission trips, I've shot some amazing film of stuff that wasn't really my focus. . .that is until I listened to that still, small voice, and started paying attention.

I am in the process of working out the scheduling issues surrounding the day to day shoots. Both churches now have the flyers that were made for the two high schools, and the family sessions flyer will be going out this week. Media outlets have press releases, and we are gearing up for interviews starting later this month.

We are still working out some of the details for the fundraiser here in Cincinnati. It will be a "Southern Nights/Sweet Home Alabama"  theme and the menu will consist of southern specialties; fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread, biscuits, peach cobbler, etc. This is where we're having the silent auction, and we're already collecting some awesome items for it!

So what are the ingredients for a mission trip? It's simple really. . .follow along if you can!
  1. A calling. Put in simplest terms, a mission team is made up of people who said, "Yes" when God said, "Will you go." 
  2. A willing heart. Planning and raising funds and dreaming up fundraisers and dealing with the media and creating schedules and working with partners all take a great deal of time and sacrifice. It's impossible to sacrifice without the willing heart. 
  3. Humility. Asking people for money will absolutely give you a reality check. You could be the most confident person in the world . . .till someone tells you to change your FB status and ask your friends for $5. Many people are able to just write a check to cover their costs, but the whole idea behind sacrifice is that if it doesn't cost you something, if it doesn't pull you out of your comfort zone, then it's really not a sacrifice after all. It takes a humble spirit to ask people to give you money for a mission trip. 
  4. Confidence. Back to back, and these two don't seem together, right? I mean, how can you have confidence if you're humble? Trust me on this, if you let God work through you, it will all balance out. Team members interact with people they've never met, and especially in this circumstance, they have to earn a strangers trust remarkably quickly. Knowing who you are, and whose you are will put you in a place of spiritual confidence and give you the tools you need to deal with the folks you encounter. 
  5. Support. Every mission trip needs the support of people connected with it. Prayer support is especially important, and so is financial support. Many people do not realize that team members that a week or more off work (w/o pay usually) and often times they incur other expenses, like childcare, or have to purchase special clothing or equipment. There are fees related to every trip that are extra as well. Some people have to fly to a location to join the team and incur travel expense just to get to the place where they're going to travel to the mission location!
If you're reading this, we need your help. Simply put, it's going to cost us just under $4000 to take 10 people to Alabama. That is nothing when you really think about it. We are being housed and fed by the churches we've partnered with, and the rest of the funds are allocated for travel, and incidental expense. Anything left over would be applied toward prints for our senior packages.

If you've been blessed, and we have all been blessed in some way, would you consider giving to support us?  We are in the process of securing a 501(c)3 so that your donation can be tax deductible, but do not yet have it. We meet all the criteria for this, and fully expect approval, we just don't have it yet

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April Updates

Well, it's official. Tickets have been purchased, partnerships have been solidified, and even the Mayor knows we're coming now. Things are moving right along.

In the last month, we've solidified our team selection, and are in the process of collecting biographies so that we can "introduce" you to everyone. For now, please take a look at our new tabs across the top of the page, and get to know our team.

Ask letters have been drafted, a bank account and PayPal account has been established, and we've begun the process of requesting financial support for our trip. Now. . .don't stop reading! Yes, we want your money, but not all of it. : -) Promise! We are asking for supporters to sponsor us on a monthly basis, as well as one time donations and in kind donations. Currently, we're partnered with North River church and the Vineyard Church of Tuscaloosa who are providing shelter, some of our meals, and helping us orchestrate our daily sessions while in the city. A big part of our needs have been met so that we can bless these families, but we still need your help!

Lots of people wonder exactly what their dollars go to when it comes to mission trips. I've created a break down here to help everyone understand just where your hard earned pennies are going.

Transportation - $620
This includes our travel to and from Tuscaloosa, as well as any driving around the city. I estimate 40 miles daily while in Tuscaloosa, and it is about 1200 miles round trip from Cincinnati to T-Town. This comes to a total of 1440 miles we are estimating having to drive. With gas at almost $4 per gallon, and we estimate a total of 155 gallons needed, bringing our transportation costs to about $620 (give or take)

Meals - $600-700
We'll have six or seven people on our team, and estimate about $100 per person for the week. This will include any meals we need to purchase for ourselves (typically McDonald's style meals) as well as items like bottled water, soda's, Gatorade (it's hot in Alabama, ya'll) and snacks.

Incidentals - $1500
This will cover items like air mattresses if we need them, first aid kits, extra car rental, extra batteries, printing for senior portraits, unexpected expenses (like tires, a hotel overnight if there are issues with travel)

Van Rental - $1000 
We are trying to have a van donated for our usage, but if not, this is the cost to rent a 12 passenger van, which is the smallest we could use when you consider all of the gear that is necessary to bring.

Grand Total? $3820
This represents the total cost for seven people, travel included.

If you think of it this way - we'll have at least four photographers shooting for six hours a day. That's 24 sessions each, times four, so you're looking at at least 100 families daily. If we extend our time for an hour, we're looking at about 125 families that we're serving daily, times five days represents a minimum of 500 families. Each family receives a group shot, kids together, kids alone, and mom and dad together. These sessions normally cost around $150 per family. (that is an average charge per photographer). In all, these sessions would "cost" $75,000.

This doesn't include the senior portraits we're planning to do, (average cost, $495 per session) or any of the "extras" we're able to work in daily.  We are planning to do around 100 senior sessions, bringing our total for senior portrats to $49, 500

All in? We're offering a total package of $124,500 in portrait work.

Would you please consider supporting us? There's a donation button located at the bottom of this post, and you can give securely via PayPal. Alternately, if you're local to Cincinnati, any one of our team can come and pick up a gift. We're available to share with your church of civic organization too!

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