A Ripple in the Pond: the WEST Story
WEST recently updated its logo to a horse's head dipping it's nose in water, creating ripples. WEST also updated its mission statement to be "Breaking the legacy of generational poverty, one person at a time." How does a PATH-certified therapeutic equine program have anything to do with generational poverty? Here's how that developed....
Ever since WEST incorporated in April, 2015, I have been taking Nonprofit University courses for free through the Community Foundation of West Georgia. One class was about fundraising. The instructor talked about how donors don't give money to just "good causes" anymore, they give to nonprofits who can demonstrate that they have a measurable impact on the community at large. The question we had to answer was "What is the impact your organization has in the communtiy around you? Why should a donor invest money with your organization?" This is an important question whose answer will dictate how an organization's programs get funded. Many of the nonprofit representatives in the room with me that day came from well-established companies who had enough data to be able to answer that question. As a brand new company, less than two years old at the time, I did not. For a minute, I felt defeated. How am I supposed to develop funding if I don't have the data or any idea, yet, of WEST's impact in the community? I had to think outside the box.
I began by rephrasing the question. "What impact do community stakeholders think WEST could or should have?" I decided to go to community leaders and ask them. I spoke with the Executive Director of the local Community Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce. I interviewed a well respected businessman, the owner of the local housing authority, a client, a marketing person, and the vice principal of the high school. Their answers created the mission statement. In effect, they said, "Deb, your job is to create resiliency in people. You and the horses teach people how to rethink their lives so they can make better decisions. Those better decisions, hopefully, will lead to them graduating high school, getting a job, continuing their education, learning a trade. That has an impact on the local economy. This area has a generational poverty problem. If you can get a kid to break that cycle with your work, that's a ripple in the pond. WEST is a ripple in the pond of generational poverty in West Georgia." And that's how WEST's new mission statement was born.