Humor me for a moment and let me paint you a picture. Journey with me to a quiet forest. Imagine a little stream running past. Hear the water flowing and feel a cool winter breeze on your face. In front of you is the start of a campfire. It’s in the beginning stages where the flames start to lick the surrounding timbers and you wait in anxious anticipation to see if the fire will come to life or if it will crumble in front of you in a smoky pile. To ensure it’s success, you drop down low and slowly exhale on the embers. You repeat this several times, ducking back to inhale away from the smoke and then returning again to release another deep breath. The flames rise in response to this gifted air, dancing across the crisscrossed logs and slowly coming to life. The warmth of the fire starts to spread as it grows in size, crackling and burning it’s way into a glorious amber splendor. You warm your hands over this incredible creation, feeling the power of the flames beneath your fingers, the energy of something that only moments before lay dormant in front of you. You marvel at the incredible living, breathing force that barely exists and now stands powerfully before you.
If you joined me on that mental journey for a few moments, you now know exactly how I feel when I head in to work at Lily’s Pad. I sit at a desk where I research day after day how to fund this project, I send emails to countless businesses, foundations and individuals sharing our story. Some come back with responses, others remain unanswered. I coordinate our architect, our engineers, our suppliers. I talk to our donors and post on social media. I balance our checkbook and pay our bills. I set timelines and budgets and organize fundraisers. I spend every day, hunkered down over my ember, slowing breathing life across the coals and praying for a flame.
I’m not alone. Down the street, my parents tend to the ember as well. My mom runs all around town handing out flyers and campaign kits. She sends press releases to media contacts and searches across the internet for that “big donor”. My dad helps me make the decisions, holds tight to the vision and keeps us on track. He sets up meetings and guest speaks. He joins me on conference calls and calms my racing heart when I talk about our renovation budget. In another house, my brother and his wife hold tight to those embers as well. They share their story, opening barely healed wounds to help others heading down the path they just got off. My sister in law answers all of my requests for graphic designs, patiently showing me the right way to manage copyrights and trademark law. My brother networks and fundraises. He connects us to medical professionals, fellow parents in need of our location, potential in-kind sponsors. Our little fire’s flames flicker with their efforts, they dart in and out, ready to ignite.
Across town, the Lily’s Pad Board of Directors tend to the fire as well. They give their time and their money, their hearts and their minds to the very essence that will be Lily’s Pad. They share with friends and neighbors. They advertise for us on their social medias and tell their customers about us in their newsletters. They do this over and over again and the ember responds and begins to light.
Miles and miles across the country are keepers of this flame. An expert who advises us on our material selections from Texas. Friends who run races on our behalf and donate dollars to our cause from Washington. Family members volunteering to help from New Mexico. We even had fundraisers from Puerto Rico! So many different people in so many different places hovering over our little ember and breathing life into it from every angle.
Every donation that comes in, every phone call I take, every email that is answered, I picture those flames starting to rise. I can feel the warmth of it on my face. I can hear it crackling. I am waiting anxiously for that moment when it bursts into life. As I sit here to write my first blog of the year, I am struck by an intense desire to build Lily’s Pad. To create something incredible and life changing that will come from all of us flame tenders but evolve into something powerful with a life of its own. If you’re reading this today, you are one of the ones helping to tend to these embers. You are part of the living and breathing force that will soon become a flame. You are a piece of the incredible, glorious fire that will soon burn. I’m humbled to be standing among such a dedicated group of people and honored to know that when Lily’s Pad is built it will be because we stood patiently beside her and guided her to life. To those of hunkered down low over these embers, this New Year brings us incredible possibilities. It brings new opportunities, new donors, new flame tenders.
Watch and wait my friends, stay close by these embers, breathe your life across them and then together we will relish in the moment when they light and burst into flame.
– Written by Dawn Garza
Director of Operations at Lily’s Pad and Proverbial Flame Thrower