Phew, 2020... what a year. It would be safe to say we've never experienced another year like it. It definitely had it's ups and downs, but today we are going to focus on the highs! Check out our year in review below.
The beginning of 2020 was all about putting our heads down and finishing up all of the renovations on our Forever Home. Watching this building transform from a forgotten space into a beautiful reonvated home for our organization, was amazing.
Once the renovations were complete we were able to move in and get settled in our Forever Home. We celebrated our new space with our staff and community at our Grand Opening on February 7th.
The month didn't slow down as we offered Adult Women's Sewing Classes! These are a great way to share our skill of sewing and also raise money for our program.
Hannah, one of our women completed the program and found a full time job locally here in Cleveland. We couldn't be prouder of the work she has put in and the changes she has made to better her and her family's life.
Read her full story HERE
The month our lives changed drastically. No one could have predicted how COVID-19 was going to affect us all personally and our organization as a whole. We made the difficult decision to temporarily shut down our storefront. This decision was not made lightly as if we are not open and selling products, we are not making money to support our women. We worked quickly and found a way to put all of our in store inventory online, so people all around the country could purchase products that were already made and continue to bring in revenue!
We switched our production to face masks when several supporters from our community came forward and gave generous donations to make and distribute face masks to those in need. This also allowed us to sustain our daily operations during that time.
We were able to produce and distribute 2,500 masks for free to our community - including small businesses, health care workers, school employees, and more. It took 625 hours of production to produce those 2,500 masks! We have now transitioned to selling masks on our website and will continue to do so for as long as the need is there.
One of the highlights of this year was how we challenged ourselves creatively to find ways to sustain our revenue and curated a variety of Celebration Boxes. These boxes were a huge hit and we loved seeing people supporting small business and giving to their loved ones during a stressful time.
We thankfully were able to re-open our storefront with careful measures in place in April and started curbside pick up, sanitized throughout the day and encouraged masks while shopping to ensure a safe experience as well as a safe working environment for our staff and women.
Once we re-opened we were able to start two new women. Due to our closure we had to delay their start, but by taking careful precautions we were able to welcome them to our organization and were excited to start them on their journey with Free 2 Fly safely.
Sewing Camp! We developed a creative way to continue our 4th Annual Girls Sewing Camp by splitting up the camp into 4 weeks to allow for smaller groups. We followed the CDC guidelines and kept the girls safe with lower numbers and were still able to share our love of sewing with the next generation!
We were so excited to start our new AmeriCorps Vista through the United Way. We welcomed Lydia to our team and have loved seeing her jump right in and assist with marketing, fundraising, event planning, grant writing and more. It's been such a blessing to our team and organization to partner with United Way in this way throughout the years!
Again, knowing that we needed to continue to produce new and exciting things we launched our first ever Baby Gift Boxes to highlight a variety of Free 2 Fly products as well as other products from a couple of our store vendors.
We resdesigned our first ever handbag, the Hailey Kate. Giving it a fresh and updated look and feel!
We celebrated Julia while she obtained her drivers license and bought herself a new car. These two things had been on Julia's goal sheet for some time and we couldn't have been more proud to see her complete them.
As our program continues to grow we have found the importance of continuing to add to our curriculm and were excited to add a Work Ethics Curriculm to our program outline. This teaches the women to understand the soft skills of working but also what God says about working. Through the implementation of Biblical Work Ethics, the women have learned that work gives a purpose and God intends on us to work and work together to meet shared objectives. Each month we focus on a Biblical Work Ethic and how we can incorporate it into both the workspace and personal life. Some of the Biblical Work Ethics include Character, Attendance, Productivity, Appearance, Team Work, Attitude, Organization Skills, Communication, Cooperation, and Respect.
ALLELO! We introduced our new fundraising initiative & started adding women to our inaugural ALLELO group. This group encompasses a set of women who dedicate themselves to raise/or give $1,000 each to help support program costs. If you would like more information about this group of women or how to be a part please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps the most bittersweet part of our job is watching our women transition out of our program and into the workforce. While this is our purpose and ultimate goal, we always feel a little sad saying goodbye. This was proven when we celebrated Jessica, our first Free 2 Fly intern, as she got a full time job. We are so proud of the work Jessica has put in to change her and her daughter's life. To read more about Jessica's story, click HERE
Bird & Barn! We held our 7th Annual Bird & Barn fundraising event at Black Fox Farms. This is always a unique event that serves as our main fundraising event of the year. As the situation with Covid-19 evolved from day-to-day, our top priority during these challenging times was to provide a safe and enjoyable shopping experience with added precautions and measures in place, and thankfully we were able to do that. We had an amazing two day event and were so thankful we were able to pull it off.
Graduation! We celebrated two women graduating from our program this year by completing all of the graduation requirements. Hannah and Julia have grown so much during their time with us and have accomplished numerous goals. Seeing these two women transform their lives has been absolutely beautiful.
We were SO excited to decorate our new storefront window for the holidays. After the year we have all had, we wanted to bring some holiday cheer to our customers and community. We even won best storefront window contest put on by Mainstreet Cleveland!
We never could have predicted all of the trials and tribulations our organization, community and country have been dealt this year. However, through all the madness we have found so many reasons to be grateful. So many accomplishments have been celebrated and many lives have been changed. We feel blessed and honored to do this work and cannot thank you enough for your support.
It's such an honor to walk alongside women as they are changing the course of their futures and we couldn't do it without our loyal Free 2 Fly supporters.
2020 has been a year we will never forget for many reasons, but we are looking to the future with a positive outlook and a grateful heart. We're ready for you 2021!
If you would like to be a part of our story in the coming year, we would love if you would give a gift toward our program. Click HERE to learn more.