I talked with a lot of different people about the idea of a fundraiser and soon it became clear what needed to be done. If we wanted to raise enough money to create the kind of project I had in mind, we would need to establish a non-profit organization.

“How hard could that be?” I thought. Well, let me tell you, it was incredibly hard. It took almost an entire year of paperwork and what felt like a thousand other details that needed to be in order, before we could proceed. I was told by some of the well-meaning adults in my life that when the non-profit became official, I’d be eligible to submit for grants and funding from major corporations who support projects like mine.

You can imagine at my young age, having to wait a couple days for something to arrive in the mail felt like an eternity, let alone having to wait an entire year to become tax exempt. In the meantime, I decided to learn everything I could about children and the stages of their early development.

A friend suggested I attend a local university that was close to our house. I still wasn’t old enough to drive yet. I still hadn’t even finished high school. But I enrolled and what a gift that was! In the first few minutes of my very first child development class, I knew I was “home.” I had truly discovered my passion.

At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was. I loved my teachers and loved learning about children. I even got to work with preschoolers at the early child development center on campus. I spent so much time there in fact, they asked me to come less often so the other students could have a chance.

Then one morning, my mom woke me up and took me to our fax machine (remember when we used to have those?!). Our non-profit tax exempt status from the IRS had arrived. It was official. We now had what we needed so we could secure the funds necessary to create our program.

I submitted quite a few funding grants, all, unfortunately, to no avail. So, one day I had what I thought was a wonderful idea. What if we had a benefit concert to honor Mister Rogers!

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