Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lumber Jill’s take on non-profit status

By: Angela Lince

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Lights shine down on the women, dressed in their colorful uniform attire. Padding, helmets, and pride are a visual part of the roller derby look. The whistle is blown, and the women are off. Their season is slowly approaching center stage, for all to see and help the community as well.
The Adirondacks only roller derby team, the Lumber Jill’s, all started in the Spring of 2010. The team unified and was established as an all-female, flat-track derby league. Over time, they have developed respect and a name for themselves, due to their outstanding events that are based on the fun of the game, while raising money for organizations.
Just a year ago the flags were raised; allowing the team to be known as non-profit , which was originally a Limited Liability Company, meaning, the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. Since their existence back in 2010, they have been covering ground all over Clinton County, trying to help the community in need. The team also prides itself in supporting others while dedicating time to further their understanding of roller derby and female athleticism.
Starting a nonprofit organization can be an inspiring way to give back to your community and help those in need. However, it is important to understand all of the steps involved in this process before moving forward. Growing and sustaining a nonprofit may take years of effort and a great deal of determination.
Difficulty is a given when establishing a non-profit organization. For the Lumber Jill’s, waiting around for the official announcement of their new obtained status was the biggest hardship. Danielle Baker, a former five-year Lumber Jill, (Derby name, Mayday Va JJ) says the process in becoming non-profit was a “challenge”, but it was ultimately the right choice to make. For years, the team put on events to raise money for causes, so it just seemed to make sense. One constant struggle for the Lumber Jill’s is getting their name out for all to know. “Advertisements and radio announcements/PSA’s are expensive, so we find our best advertisement is through giving to the community”, Baker said.
President of the Lumber Jill’s, Maddie McGrath (Derby name, Chucky Finish-Her), said: “We pretty much try and help people who ask for it, when our schedule allows for it. If someone within the group has an organization or event they want to work with, they voice it to the team, some outside groups also ask for our help.”
According to, the first step in creating a non-profit organization is by drafting your mission statement.  “Developing your mission statement is a critical because it communicates your nonprofit's purpose, what groups it serves, and how it will serve them. Every decision and action in your organization should support and further your mission,” (How Do I Start).
            Grantspace also guides you to the next step: “Write a business plan.  Just as with a for-profit business, a business plan can help a nonprofit describe how it intends to achieve its mission in more specific details. It also can be used to outline a new project or venture,” (How Do I Start).
Last but not least, you must “Develop your board.  As your nonprofit's governing body, your board fulfills a variety of roles and legal responsibilities. In order to carry out these duties effectively, the board will change as your organization grows and matures. While recruitment is an important step in this process, a systematic approach to board development, including orientation, training, evaluation, and the cultivation of prospective board members, is critical to ensuring its long-term success” (How Do I Start).
“Our organization has several committees that focus on different topics, one being the donation committee. You don’t have to be a player on the team to be a part of the committee. We’ll still consider you a Lumber Jill”, Baker said.
                So far, these powerful women have displayed their support through many events, a few being: “The First Weekends in Plattsburgh” is an event that occurs the first Friday and following Saturday of select months. They bring music, arts and entertainment to the downtown streets of Plattsburgh. Another event they attended was the annual SUNY Plattsburgh, “Take Back the Night” event based on men and woman coming together to raise awareness about the sexual assault issues people face today in April 2015. In February 2015, they also attended the BHSN children’s carnival, helping with selling popcorn and beverages.
In the year 2015, the Lumber Jill’s were looking to collaborate with the Heart Association, Kent-Delord House Museum, Impeerium Peer Network, Reality Check of Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties, as well as Imaginarium Children’s Museum, and the Girl Scouts. These organizations are normally introduced to the audience around the Lumber Jill’s half-time show, where then proceeds are collected.  For an event called, “That 70s”, the Lumber Jill’s invited the Autism Alliance of Northeastern New York to perform at the half time show, while informing the audience about the organization.
Another Lumber Jill event, “Pint of Revenge”, allowed the Impeerium Peer Network of Plattsburgh to benefit from the 50/50 raffle. The Impeerium Peer Network is a local organization dedicated to assist[ing] peers along their journey toward recovery by shifting them in a direction to help themselves in their time of need. The program is all peer-based, so it allows you to experience the individual comfort one should have in situations connected to mental health. The Lumber Jill’s often focus on organizations that target the awareness of mental health, since it’s an ongoing issue in the United States.  The participation in helping other organizations doesn’t stop there. A “Born in the USA” doubleheader match, the featured non-profit is ROTA Studios and Gallery ROTA, received all proceeds of the 50/50 raffle, held a spot in the show (to inform the public) and performed during the half time show.
“Back to School”, another event was covered to help the Bailey Avenue School district. At the time of the event, the president of Plattsburgh Roller Derby, Erin McGill also known as Teachy McKill, decided to give back to her own school. Since McGill is a teacher at the school, you could see why she would find Bailey Avenue to be a spot in her heart.
As mentioned before, the Kent-Delord House Museum was a focus for the team, where they raised money to help it.  Member boarder director of the Kent-Delord House Museum, Sharron Vell, stated that the funding was in idea brought by Connie Manderville, a former Lumber Jill, and former Kent-Delord House Museum employee. Giving back to their own organizations is important to them, as well as many others.
All of these organizations have benefitted from the proceeds raised by the Lumber Jill’s. Danielle Baker says that from there, the money is used by the organizations in many ways—but at the end of the day, receiving a thank you card and a smile is all they need to feel truly successful.
If you’re looking to help the Lumber Jill’s with proceeds focusing towards local organizations and just enjoy a classic derby match, you’ll be seeing these woman appearing in the “later winter, early spring”, Baker said.


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