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Hello, dear friend,

How could I think of you otherwise? Words cannot express my gratitude for your company on this seven-day journey back in time, which, as I am sure you’ve realized, is also a journey into the future. I hope you’ve taken courage from the tale of a true Environmental Hero, Dr. Tom Kazo. I hope your imagination has caught fire as you’ve visualized yourself paddling on smooth waters reflecting the brilliant hues of a glorious Florida sunrise. Or perhaps you are thinking of how much safer the waters and shorelines are for humans and wildlife, once WRT’s volunteers have removed the debris. Or perhaps you have a dear person of delicate health in your life who could benefit greatly from a You Point We Paddle excursion.

This is the last chapter in our storytelling campaign. This has been a very emotional time for me. I am not a pushy person! But not much gets done in this busy world without a push, a shove, a stomach-churning thrust of audacity. (This campaign has given me new respect for movie-makers, for one thing!) I realize Wildlife Research Team is not everyone’s cup of tea. But your name is on our list because we believe that YOU are a concerned and caring person who would like to make a difference. WRT is known to attract the very best people!

Rest assured that in the future, The Canoe View News will appear in your inbox not more than once a week, maybe even every two weeks, just enough to keep you aware of events, but not just from our Team. There are so many other awesome environmental organizations out there!

Yesterday I went over our Five Outcomes, the plan which will help us best serve the needs of all members of the community as we pursue our quest to protect the habitat from further degradation. Before I present our Sixth Outcome, let me share with you Wildlife Research Team’s most cherished dream: Our black canoes are busy every day in the year, not just on Saturdays. A rotating team of our certified Canoe Guide/Naturalists and their assistants heads out each day on a different excursion: one day, a coastal cleanup; next day, a Canoe View University class on seagrass identification in Biscayne Bay; next day, a Boy Scout Troop works on their Merit Badges; next day, a special canoeing exercise class for over-40 people who want to get back in shape; next day, an artists’ club heads out for a painting excursion; next day, WRT Members enjoy fellowship and fun paddling together for a snorkeling adventure in the Keys; next day, six little kids from a cancer ward and their caregivers get to breathe fresh air for a couple of hours in a You Point We Paddle excursion…It’s exciting, isn’t it, all the things our canoes and our people can do?

How to make that wonderful dream come true? It starts with our Sixth Outcome: Donor-Sponsor
This very special person may live too far from South Florida to enjoy a trip in our canoes, but wants to make sure others can. Wherever this angel’s location, he or she will receive a tax break to be determined by the Internal Revenue Service’s rules. Rest assured, WRT is registered with the State of Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to accept donations which are deductible to the fullest extent of the law. We are grateful for donations of any amount! Every drop in a bucket will eventually overflow it!

My friends, in order for us to gather our forces, plan a budget, and do everything we can to insure a positive and sustainable outcome, we must have money in the bank before we launch. We cannot make progress living hand to mouth. We cannot hire people, even part time, unless we have the funds on hand.

It is our determined goal that Wildlife Research Team eventually becomes self-sustaining. Canoe View University and other fee-based programs we discussed the other day are meant to cover the many free services we want to offer to the community in order to fulfill our nonprofit mission. 

Even though a large gift makes a lovely cushion, however, we will not look to just one single donor-sponsor. For one thing, as a public charity, we are required to spread out our donor base so we don’t appear to be “owned” by any one large entity. We really don’t need as much money as many nonprofit organizations to get our work done. We have enough canoes at the moment! Our trailers take a beating, sure, and eventually we will need more of them. Of course we will always have the best volunteers, but in this economy, we must become job creators! Even a part-time paycheck that honors the person’s dedication and expertise is welcome in the average household. We won’t pay anyone “under the table,” either. We will pay for proper third-party accounting to handle payroll taxes and withholding.

The largest item on our Wish List is, of course, our own tow vehicle. The main reason, remember, that we had to screech to a halt in 2009 was that our beloved Sport Trac could not be repaired due to the economic meltdown. Even a decent older pickup truck, or a van would do the job; it would need to be a six-to-eight cylinder model in order to tow our largest, eight-canoe, trailer.

Can you help us with that?

My most cherished personal goal? To find and develop leaders, and put in place the mechanisms to pay them, so that I can hand this off in good conscience to the next generation. I would continue on WRT’s Board to provide a link to our history and keep an eye on things, of course. I would never abandon Dr. Tom’s Dream Team! When Tom was alive, everyone naturally looked up to him for everything. Nobody had as much charisma as Tom Kazo! Knowing he was terminally ill, he tried to set into place some systems to keep us paddling, but he was fighting the cancer and…After he died, I went back to college and took classes that have helped me to develop as a leader in my own right, and to run a business. It was a great feeling to graduate on the Dean’s List! (Drove to school sometimes with a canoe on top of the vehicle which got WRT some great volunteers!)

Can you help us to re-launch Wildlife Research Team’s canoes? 

It’s hard to believe, but 2013 is almost half over; so we are projecting our budget only for the next six months. Our financial goal is $24,000, or $4,000/month. If an environmental hero donates a vehicle to us, we won’t need that much! It’s PEOPLE we need to pay, because those canoes sure can’t paddle themselves. We would not ask any one of our “Environmental Angels”  to donate more than $4,000. This amount could be pledged, in chunks, over the rest of 2013.

Sponsorship is perceived by the public as more generous and heartfelt than advertising, as the sponsor has shown a dedicated interest in the success of the organization. In today’s tough economy, helping out a worthy and active nonprofit is just good business!

Can you become our Sponsor with a donation of at least $1,000?

In return, we’ll give you wonderful PR: your name and logo will be on our new website and on all of our email newsletters and advertising, and of course we will link to your website from ours. We are a grateful bunch, and will keep thinking of ways to honor you over the six months following your donation. Perhaps a special canoe picnic trip for you and your family? (After everyone has gone through Canoeing 101, of course!)

Contact me, Donna Kazo, at your convenience at paddle4research(at)yahoo.com; feel free to call me: 954.474.8194. WRT uses Paypal for our Donate button on our website, www.wildlife-research-team.org. Paypal of course extracts their fee. This is usually best for smaller donations. You may choose to write us a check for larger donations.

Well, my friends, I see the dock approaching; time to pull our canoe from this river of time we’ve been paddling together. Just one thing before our journey ends: my wish for you is that you will always find the strength within yourself to overcome any challenge. This is what I learned from being the soulmate of Tom Kazo: that there is a deep strength within us, usually brought forth only by crisis or danger. Canoeing can be dangerous. Canoes have a bad name with some people! But Life itself is dangerous, and Canoeing is a metaphor for Life, as I remarked in Part One. Challenge your muscles, break them down, and they become stronger. Challenge your fears by breaking them down a paddle-stroke at a time, and you will become stronger.

As a not-so athletic mom, I so well recall shaking with fright on some of my earliest canoe trips. I’d get really mad at Tom, when I was really mad at myself! Remember that Tom loved to say, “Knowledge eliminates 99% of fear.” As a scientist, he was always testing, experimenting. At some point I realized I was his guinea pig! When he proudly said to me, “You get into that canoe like walking through a screen door,” I knew I had passed some sort of important test.

If I can do it, so can you. Challenge yourself every day to become your best!

Thank you again for your time and attention. All of us in Wildlife Research Team thank you in advance for becoming an Environmental Angel with your sponsorship of our re-launch!

With great hope and gratitude,

Donna

Photo Credit: Donna M. Kazo. At river’s edge, a Wildlife Research Team canoe awaits the adventure of the day.

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