As we look at how Hope & A Future has come to be, we are thankful to those of you that have shared your time, talents, and resources with us to bring us this far!
Paula and I have had a wonderful time reconnecting with memories and people that have helped bring Hope & A Future to where it is today. In the first three blogs of our history, we talked about having an idea and deciding to try to make it happen and taking initial steps. We remain grateful that we were able to get expert help! Yet, just when we started to feel confident, things became more complicated.
Our next tasks included setting up a business structure that would define how we would finance the project. Again, this was unchartered territory for both of us and there was not a model to use for guidance. We needed a lawyer and we did not have money to work with. As a rule, Paula and I were people known for having an abundance of common sense. However, this venture had nothing to do with common sense—it was all faith and passion. Passion about an idea that we believed could not only relieve human loneliness but also release the untapped potential in people needing long term support and encouragement. This idea is in line with what the World Health Organization now calls Social Determinants of Health and our approach supports factors known to build resiliency in all age groups. But to create a setting where we could try out our ideas would take the good will of many. Our goal was and is to build a model that is financially sustainable.
Social good entrepreneurs, start-up companies that they believe will implement solutions to social, cultural or environmental issues. Hope & A Future is interested on all three fronts. Our primary goal is to create staffed intergenerational neighborhood settings that will empower diverse people to help each other live better. The holistic approach requires a safe, creative environment that includes interaction with nature. The desired outcome is a family of friends and generations of purpose. This is not a quick fix approach to help people through a tough spot, this is a long term approach and commitment to help people move forward in life. We remain passionate about our pursuit—but wow is it complicated!
We had defined our approach and received beautiful footprints. Now we needed a lawyer. We needed a business name and structure. Finding a name was difficult. One day I told Paula that one of my favorite Bible verses was;
After a lot of thinking, reading and praying we decided to become a charitable non-profit company. Exactly how to do that in the world of business was not something we knew. We searched our chosen business name and filled out paperwork for incorporating. It turned out we set up the wrong business type for a charitable company and it later had to be un-done! Filling out the paperwork to apply for charitable status for our holistic business idea did not look straight forward to us. We learned that what we would need was 501c3 charitable status. So, we started talking to people that built affordable housing and had charitable status. As we talked, the name of Attorney Tim Radelet kept coming up as the expert in this area. Over and over we were told he was the attorney to talk to. Our question to each other remained, “How does one pay for a lawyer without money?” After a long series of trying things that were not working out, we finally decided to make an appointment with Tim. We called his office, explaining that we were hoping to set up a 501c3 business that involved housing and that so far, we had no financial backing. We were told the first meeting would be without charge.
We went to the beautiful office building with a view of Lake Mendota that cannot be improved upon. In the waiting area, next to the beautiful water fountain, we were pretty sure this would be a one and done conversation—due to our lack of budget.
Tim turned out to be warm and listened intently to our ideas and looked at our footprints with real interest. This meeting turned out to be the first of many. Tim became our mentor and friend and continues to help us even in his retirement. He has never billed us for his time. Tim introduced us to affordable housing developers and eventually decided to take a day of vacation to write the 501c3 application for us. At the end of the day he called to say he was not done and that our application was even more complicated than he had expected. He said he would call when he was done. He ended up using an entire week of vacation time! Words cannot express the gratitude we felt. Knowing we could never repay this favor made it hard to know how to accept the gift. To our stammering Tim would only repeat that he was glad to help.
Just this week I asked Tim to write a few sentences about why he decided to help us (for years and years)! This is what he wrote;
It must have been in 2003 that Karin Krause and Paula Reif first contacted me to discuss their intergenerational housing dream. From that beginning, I was very impressed with how well developed their idea was and how clearly they were able to describe it to me. Their tenacity and patience, their willingness to listen, learn and explore every resource, and their deep commitment as demonstrated by the time and money they each invested, all made me a believer. I wanted to help as best as I reasonably could.
By April of 2004, we had organized the original corporation and later that year the IRS recognized the corporation as a public charity under Section 501 (c)(3). Paula and Karin continued to knock on every door looking for ideas and help, much of which was forthcoming. They have continued to contact me and we’ve bounced around many ideas together. Hope and A Future now has a wonderful Adult Family Home, which is a monumental achievement for two determined women who had no background in housing development and finance. I have every reason to believe that the next phase of their dream, an intergenerational housing development, will come to fruition. They inspire me, and have shown me that dreams really can come true.
~ Attorney Timothy Radelet ~