She Works Hard For No Money So You Better Treat Her Right: the story of one female’s nonprofit startup journey

Part 1

I pull my truck into the small empty parking lot and park. Tears staining my cheeks. One argument first thing in the morning too many. I’m running out of options. I sit and stare at the empty spaces in the old plaza. The location is great but there’s little life or foot traffic. Is it even worth the effort to get out and peek in the windows? How am I going to afford this?

For some reason I’m drawn to an open space on the end near locked, but for public use bathrooms. I peak in. Immediately my creative brain wants to decorate. I can’t take this as a “sign” because my brain does this with any empty space it sees. But I do see the possibility.

I look around and notice there is a Uhaul rental in this plaza so I head over. It’s early and by the posted sign they aren’t even open but dogs run up to the door then a women answers. Nice enough she lets me in and finds the contact information for the plaza rentals.

Back in the truck heading home I just want to throw up. Nothing I had planned for the last few years was really going to work the way I had hoped or dreamed. It wasn’t falling into place. If anything it was falling apart and I needed to make some serious life decisions. But at this point, not counting my husbands keeping me fed and a roof over my head, I was broke.

Once Covid hit I made the decision, stayed home and put my life and soul into the tiny non profit I had created, the Desert Nature Alliance. My DNA, literally blood, sweat and too many tears. Mine. Though making videos and keeping up with my online presence was starting to gain traction, money was not . YouTube wanted thousands more subscribers than I had. Instagram didn’t find me influencing. My friends and followers were solid and truly encouraging me to grow but they aren’t millionaires.

The gravel driveway gives away my return. The tension in the house still lingers. A lot of it is my fault and I know it. My frustration at life in general had turned me into a growling, sharp toned bitch blaming him for breathing. Mad, angry, burning inside from a life of hard work that never got rewarded but instead came with bosses, customers and clients insults and abuse. Forcing my way out of the employee role and into the Queen Boss Bitch was my goal. Money had never been the pinnacle, but to actually make a difference was where I was headed. A true Nonprofit.

Filling my detached garage and multiple sections of my home were parts of the bigger picture. Half of the garage had become my museum, housing my collection of bones and skulls, my workshop, home to making all of my YouTube videos. Inside my house were pieces of furniture and items I dreamed one day I could house altogether museum style with my collection like the old wooden organ from the 1800s, a style clash with our actual personal tastes.

But my dreams of people coming way out to visit the DNA on our property weren’t coming true. It was not convenient. It was awkward. Sure, I had really cool things to see and learn from and the view is to die for but the reality was I needed to meet my audience half way. But how? I had no income.

I walked into the house and tried my best to stammer out where I had just been and that maybe I had been very wrong. By forcing my dreams into one location (safe at home) I limited so many possibilities to really grow. But the right timing and finding myself needed to happen. Stripped of all but pride, I asked for help. Was there anyway in the world he could give this awful woman who he claims to have loved for the last 25 years enough money to pay first and deposit on a public space? Did he believe in me like that? Did I believe in me like that?