As you know, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing online funding campaign. I did not reach the fundraising goal so technically this failed.
But thanks to all of you and many other contacts created by this venture, I certainly do not walk away with "nothing." If anything, I am more encouraged than ever that this project will come to pass and will uplift others.
This fundraising exercise prompted me to reach out to many people I would not otherwise have come into contact with, and, as "iron sharpens iron," those contacts only helped me refine the vision for this film and accompanying social action project on behalf of immigrant students.
I knew the funding goal could be viewed as unrealistic but I truly believed it could be reached when I first set it. But then, after getting out of the boat, I looked down at the water and began to panic. My calls to potential donors were timid and hesitant. I suffered lack of confidence. Everything stalled. Honestly, the idea of asking for money held me back. But, by God's grace, my courage renewed and before I knew it I was boldly asking people for support. I grew in it, learned from stepping out of my comfort zone. In the end, 71 backers pledged more than $6,000 and 526 people took the time to "like" the project on Kickstarter.
The fundraising continues and everyone but my mom is more than welcome to send a check to:
Not With Ink
126 East Main St.
Jewett City, CT 06351
Why not mom? Let's just say she had increased her pledge so much that I started praying I wouldn't reach my goal so I wouldn't financially ruin her!
Before I call your attention to what's next, I want to highlight some samples of these connections, positive developments and lessons. This is long, but if you've come this far with me, you'll want to read this. In no order, and with the understanding that I'm sure I'm leaving people out:
- Wait. Actually, the rest of this won't be in order. But this first part of thanks goes to my wife, Luisa, who asked and prayed every day about the status of the project and secretly called friends and family to make - I mean encourage - them to pledge. Luisa is from Honduras and knows first hand what it is like to have to break the language and cultural barrier here. She is featured in the promo. In fact, she did it in one take. It took me, who suddenly reverted to a teenager with fits of laughter, about a dozen takes. Luisa and I held "mini-parties" with our daughters, Tori, 13, and Roni, 10, after each notification of a Kickstarter backer.
- Few people actually watched the promo video that includes personal reasons for why I want to produce the documentary. But when I showed it this month at the Connecticut Administrators of Programs of English Language Learners, the group voted later that day to give $500 to the project and invited me back for future presentations.
- It is such a privilege to have Thanh Van Nguyen, principal of Griswold Middle School in Connecticut, as an advisor. And I was moved by the act of kindness and support from eighth-grade teachers who collected some money and put it in an envelop for my daughter to give to me after school one day.
- Lee-Ann Gomes, Beverly Goulet and Cheryl Egan are long-time friends I met as "sources" while covering immigration for the Norwich Bulletin. They supported this project, which is as much a testament to their own passion for lending their "voice" to people then anything else. Joan Barber of Norwich Public Schools, another "source" from my Bulletin days, also pledged. I'm glad this project reconnected me with her.
- Speaking of The Bulletin, former co-reporters, Sharma Howard and Pam Neidig got on board and encouraged me in the process.
- Facebook accounted for 23 of the pledges and helped me reconnect with two childhood friends who backed this project: Ali Abrahamson Lacey (my first "girlfriend" in kindergarten - my kids think that's hilarious) and Chi Kulig, whose parents ran the Voluntown preschool that my sister and I attended (reminded me of when I made a sand pie and got my sister to take a bite).
- A combo of Facebook and general Google searches led me to Matthew Soerens, who is a national speaker passionate about justice and compassion for immigrants, and Luis Iza, who is doing outstanding work with immigrants in New York.
- My friends at Peniel Church, which I grew up attending and at which I am now one of four pastors, and at our sister church in England, accounted for 15 pledges (not including family and extended family.)
- Thankfully, my family was not too embarrassed to stand with me on this project. Mom, Sara, Pop, Dad, Sam, Cynthia, Faith, Matt, Jen, Stephanie, Megen, and Ned (did I leave anyone out!?) backed this project.
- Stephanie Hamel is not only one of four or five people who actually think I'm funny, but she "liked" nearly everyone of my Facebook statuses about the project. Megen Hamel, Lynelle Solarek, Laura-Lillian Dickerson were also frequent "likers," which was a great encouragement.
- I may have never known 14 of the people who pledged — including a professor at Qunnipiac University — if I hadn't taken the Kickstarter route. One of them was a woman from France who gave on the very last day! I'm hoping you stay on board and would love to hear what interested you about the project.
- Carrie Jacobson, editor of the Montville Patch, went above and beyond in her encouragement of me and this project. I will never forget it.
- Bob Thorn, the Montville teacher featured in the promo, is a friend. That may not be the way reporting is supposed to work, but nevertheless, he is a friend. I admire his passion for students and there is no price that can be put on getting to know a man like Bob or the many others I've come across.
- Alice Facente, who organizes multicultural health fairs at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, and Chris LaValle, a former student in my journalism class at Three Rivers Community College, are more examples of the wide range of backers. And thank you Caleb Roseme, a close friend from the First Haitian Baptist Church of Norwich!
- Even the advisors to this project stepped in to contribute! I requested their support to increase the number of backers but they gave generously. Thank you Katharine Allen, Tali Greener, Patrick Chung, Rob Simmons, and Bali Singh. Encourage OTHER people to give money. I just want your advice!
- Grant Barrett, co-producer and co-host of "A Way with Words," a radio show in the San Diego area, was one of a few people who actually got back to one of my hundreds of emails, Tweets, Facebook messages and calls. That was much appreciated.
- Larry Brey, a founding pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina, gave me great encouragement by phone, actually returning my call asking for help with the project! I've written the encouragement down.
- In Montville, Ellen Hillman endorsed the project to all her contacts, teacher Barbara Hysler mailed in a check and Candy Buebendorf pledged again! In Norwich, Pastor Bill Huegel of the First Baptist Church quickly responded, Chuck Seeman, president/CEO of UCFS, made a donation, and Ann Jerome, school readiness coordinator for Children First Norwich, endorsed the project to all her contacts.
The Kickstarter phase has ended. I'm disappointed but not discouraged. Do I sound a little like a coach who loses the game but calls it a "moral victory?" It doesn't matter, because that's what it is.
I am moving forward.
- Sherry Filiatreault of Children First Norwich sees a possible benefit of her organization partnering with me on this project. We will continue to explore that option.
- The Connecticut Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission has been supportive of the project and we remain in discussions on possible financial backing.
- I will continue my fundraising efforts, especially with potential business sponsorships. And I will continue to dream big. Jeremy Lin, you are on my list!
- I am looking forward to working with Bryan Crandall, director of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University, who is passionate about writing and working with refugee students.
- I am looking forward to discussing the project with Jo Guzman of New Horizons in Education, a national presenter on the subject the film seeks to address.
- I am happy to be in contact with Carolina and Camila Bortoletto of the Connecticut Students for a Dream.