If you’ve seen me in the last couple of weeks or you’re following Patient PT on Facebook, I don’t need to tell you that I have been busy! I wanted to take time today to give an update and talk a little bit more about why I’m taking on so much stuff all at the same time. And after I tell you all why I’m doing this, I’ve also got a confession to make about what’s going on behind the scenes. (For those in need: TLDR)
First up, I sat for my physical therapy licensing exam on July 25th and am pleased to report that I passed the exam and am now, after over six years of dedicated effort, a licensed physical therapist.
As soon as I got my results I realized that I had been holding my breath and putting off a whole lot of preparation for PT patients – paperwork, equipment purchases, insurance, website updates, legal stuff.
I think a part of me didn’t believe I was ever going to be a physical therapist. After a frenzied few weeks, the office is looking great, the paperwork and legal things are all taken care of, and this past week I had the honor and joy of performing my very first PT evaluation under my own license. We are fully operational!
I've been hard at work making preparations for the Grand Opening on September 28. Just yesterday, our neighbor downstairs at Executive Park North - Caliente Fitness - took us up on an invitation to co-host our Open House from 2-6 pm. Earlier this week, Cardinal Spirits let us know they are donating canned cocktails to the big fundraising party downtown from 8-midnight!
However, that’s not the only big news. Toward the end of my board exam preparation, I heard about a local grant program that brought on one of those rare moments of inspiration and clarity for me -- I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted it to be the first grant I applied to for a project of my own design.
The Big Idea
The grant opportunity is the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC) Community Impact Program. This year the program is focusing on projects that improve access to Bloomington resources. I intend to propose project that aims to provide treatment, health and wellness education, and support resources to disadvantaged patients with chronic health conditions, especially chronic pain disorders contributing to the opioid epidemic. The program will center around physical therapy and other non-invasive wellness and preventative health interventions that will help patients to understand the how and why of their conditions and empower them to improve their own wellness and quality of life as much as possible. My aim for the project is to not only sponsor free treatment and support for a small group of vulnerable patients, but to adapt the resources developed for the patients to host a series of Everyday Wellness seminars that are free and open to the public.
Over the longer term (in future projects / years), I want to develop a network of wellness-related resources that pulls together information from the huge and diverse array of community programs Bloomington has to offer, in order to create an easy-to-use and accessible public calendar of events and a database of resources for health and wellness support available throughout the county.
Why am I telling you all of this?
The catch is that eligibility for this and most grant opportunities hinges on recognition as a federally recognized not-for-profit organization called a 501(c)(3).
That part didn’t daunt me – my experience as a grant writer and administrator prior to going back to school left me well-prepared to deal with complicated paperwork. What did daunt me was the ultimate price tag in legal fees to handle all of this paperwork. Even with a discounted rate given in acknowledgement of the non-profit nature of the venture, my kind lawyer (whose firm came highly recommended as not-of-the-shark-variety) informed me that the price tag was likely to run between two and three thousand dollars and the timeline was completely out of our control. Two weeks was not unheard of in recent history, but more recent history has been 7-8 months turnaround.
That's why I’ve decided to host a fundraiser during my grand opening celebration.
My goal is to cover expenses and raise $3000 to pay legal fees. If I reach my goal, even if I don't get the grant funding this year, by time the opportunity comes up again next year, PT for the People will be established as a federally-recognized 501(c)(3), and I will be able to apply for any number of programs intended to increase access to quality healthcare for everyone in Monroe County, regardless of socioeconomic status. In the event that we meet and exceed the goal, every penny of excess will go to provide pro-bono physical therapy services for Monroe County residents in need.
UPDATE: Not long after writing this post, I learned of the Indiana University Non-Profit Legal Clinic, a course at our local university that gives law students experience in non-profit focused work and provides FREE services to people just like me. I was recently assigned to a pair of students who will help me re-start the temporarily stalled process of submitting this application, and in the meantime Patient PT has put the funds raised at Impatience to even better use. In November, Patient PT began to provide free services to persistent pain patients under our new Pain MAP program.
So why am I telling you all of this stuff? Well, here comes that confession I promised.
Folks, I know that in person I am a tall, loud, difficult-to-ignore woman, and that gives the impression of boundless confidence -- especially when I do stuff like start private practices and write grants and try to found charities.
The truth is, all of this is incredibly scary. Before I went back to school to become a PT, I didn’t even have a bachelor’s degree. I went to a year of college to be a computer programmer and then dropped out. I got a massage therapy license to try to compromise with myself on being a PT. I talked my way into every job I ever had before I went back to school and then got promoted because I did a good job, but I didn’t actually have the qualifications to do any of it. I just needed a better job or better health insurance. I got frustrated with being treated badly as an underling and clawed my way up. I am a scrapper if there ever was one. But when you’re a scrapper you have to get used to not feeling like you belong. I certainly felt like that in PT school. And let me tell you – I did not grow up in a family that encourages behaviors like starting up charities. I literally haven’t even told my mother about any of this, for reasons that might make sense if you’ve read my other work. I've done a lot of things in my life, but I have definitely never hosted a fundraiser.
I am not doing this because I have boundless confidence, I’m doing it because I desperately believe in this dream of mine and want to make it real. I’m doing it because sometimes I get an idea in my head and I just can’t stop until everyone else sees it too. Those who know me, know this about me. But folks, please believe me when I say, this is the big one.
This is my moon shot. This is my dream, my life’s work. My calling.
This is what I want to do with rest of my life. I don’t know if I will ever touch anyone outside of Monroe County Indiana, but I also know that I have a vision for a better kind of healthcare. I believe with my whole soul every single person deserves much better healthcare than we are getting, and that by starting with the most vulnerable among us we can begin to prove that a better way is possible. Because of my varied background, I have a wholly unique perspective within the healthcare industry - one that needs badly to be heard to bring humanity and wholeness back to medicine. If you are still reading this, you must have some sort of stake in all this, so here is my real confession.
I need your help.
I can’t do this on my own. I don’t have three thousand dollars to start this charity, but if I can get it, I just might change the world. In the years since I decided to leave my job and go back to school, a lot of people I know have told me that I am inspiring. That they believe in me because I always deliver. That’s cool and all, but from the inside, it’s not inspiring. It’s scary and people act like it’s a weird thing to do and that is not encouraging! If you are one of those folks, I am glad you’re on my side, but I need you to help me make this happen. If I don’t sell enough tickets to this fundraiser by the end of the month to at least cover unavoidable expenses, I will have to cancel it.
I need all kinds of help to make this happen. I have reached out to over two dozen local businesses in the last week and a half, looking for sponsorship of the food, drinks, entertainment, and all other costs. I’ve organized the information for the volunteers I’m hoping to get to help me. I’ve talked about this so much to so many people I am starting to feel like a recording of myself, and I can’t help it! I want this so badly. I am honored and thrilled that Cardinal Spirits and Mary Ms Walnut House Flowers are on board with us.
I would love to be able to tell you all exactly what sort of yummy food there will be or what will be up for grabs in the silent auction or other details to tempt you, but seeking sponsorship is a delicate process - I'm asking people to give me things for free! Did I mention that I've never done this before?! I can only do so much before I’m taking on much more risk and expense than I can afford. It would break my heart if I took this gigantic risk only to fail. If that happened, I might want to give up on it forever – and I don’t have a great track record of giving up on dreams forever. Just for twenty years at a time. Don’t make me wait twenty years!
An Appeal for Help
Please show me you trust me to do amazing things, that you care, and that you want me to achieve my dreams by committing today. If you can come to the party or donate, PLEASE do! I would love to see you and celebrate with you. But if you can’t, please show me your support in whatever way you can. If cash flow isn't your strong point, sign up to volunteer or share our event on facebook, or better yet, talk to your friends and family members about the big awesome party on the square for a great cause and get them to come with you, volunteer, or donate!
Buy tickets to the PT for the People FUN-draiser Ball. Celebrate the Patient PT Grand Opening with food, dancing, an open bar, and a silent auction. A great time for a great cause. Win - win.
Donate to support the PT for the People 501(c)(3) Fundraiser in ANY amount.
Be a Sponsor
Donate goods or services to the fundraiser. Get more information on sponsorship incentives and sign up here.
Sign up to donate your time to help us set up, tear down, or run the fundraiser. Get information on special discounts and incentives for volunteers here.