March 31, 2020
Dear DSC Community Members,
There is a purpose to what we do. We sail with a purpose beyond ourselves, and I thank you for being a part of The Downtown Sailing Community.
Before I elaborate on that purpose, I want to begin by letting you know that I would not want to be anywhere else in the world than at The DSC. Obviously, I wish we were sailing right now. But we are living through a crisis that has no defined end in sight and we are adjusting to a world that changes daily. Rather than viewing this landscape as a problem, The DSC team is using this opportunity to prepare for when we are able to return to the water. We will overcome this time and we will go sailing together again. The DSC will be the balm for us when this crisis is over.
A Big Year For The DSC
This is a big time for us. The coronavirus notwithstanding, this would be a big year for The DSC. It is my second year at the helm. It is John’s third in his role. We have two new staff members, Rena and Graham, who have already proven their worth as we adjust to each new day. Less than three years remain on our marina expansion loan, a debt that we continue to pay down, and we are continuing to sustain our fleet in the manner that delivers the highest quality product at the best value for all of our sailors.
Before I introduce Graham and Rena, I first want to address what is on everyone’s mind: COVID-19 and its many effects. People are freaking out, naturally; but as sailors, we know that freaking out does not result in proactive action. We know how important it is to discern the weather ahead of us, to plan for the next shift, to look after our teammates, and to handle ourselves in a seamanlike manner. We have agency and power to make the correct decisions even during painful times - even as individuals, and especially as a community. Yes, COVID-19 is going to have a major impact on The DSC. I get it: this experience is stressful. But we will get through this, together, and with purpose.
The Correct Team For Action
The DSC now has the team and organizational structure in place to make sure The DSC thrives in any environment. Rena and Graham add to the team in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Every team member can rig a dinghy, tow a boat, teach a lesson, transfer a sailor, analyze numerical data... if it needs to be accomplished, the individuals on this team can accomplish it. More importantly, every individual on this team has a unique skill set and passion that complements the others’. To use a sailing analogy, every staff member can drive, trim, and work the bow - but each team member has talents that are best suited to a particular position. But above all else, the individuals on this team have grit. The DSC has the best team in place for action during this crisis, and this team will thrive when we move beyond it.
Early Season Gains
The DSC is not alone in its suffering, and thanks to the nearly 250 paying members who renewed early, we are in a much better financial position than some of our peer organizations. We also had an unprecedented number of summer camp registrations. The early season support, especially from Junior Parents, turned out to be much more than just a confidence boost. Because we started off strong in this 2020 season, we are able to move forward with a modified action plan, and we will be in a very strong position to deliver the highest quality product to our entire community when we get back into action.
Introducing New Staff Members Graham and Rena
We will sail again. I don’t know when that will be… but we will - with your help. Before I go into our action plan and how you can help, I want to introduce Graham and Rena.
I met Graham in 2014 He was newish to Baltimore, soft spoken, and somewhat nervous as I put him through his coaches’ checkout. Graham showed up early to work. He volunteered for tasks that nobody wanted. He stayed late; learned more; failed, stuck to it, and succeeded. I soon found he had a knack for connecting with kids. Then I learned he was good at teaching adults, too. Later, I found how good he was at paperwork. He is so good with paperwork, in fact, that he basically ran our keelboat school for the past two years while I transitioned into the Executive role. Even as a part time employee, Graham proved himself to be an indispensable part of The DSC team. And all the while, I saw how much Graham loves The DSC Community. He recognizes its purpose.
Rena recognizes The DSC’s purpose, too. Rena was one of the first two people I met at The DSC when I was considering a move to Baltimore, and she greeted me with a smile. Through her fifteen years of volunteering with the Accessible Program, she has led hundreds of transfers and has greeted each and every sailor with that same smile, a kind word, and often a laugh. She drives the powerboats, the Sonars, and serves as a sailing buddy. She brings her friends to volunteer and gets their families involved. She does whatever it takes. There is no one better suited to run the Adaptive/Accessible Sailing Program nor the S.I.T. Program. Not only does she have intimate knowledge of how these critical programs run, but she has a real passion for the people who are frequently marginalized by our society. She gets the purpose of what we do at The DSC.
The DSC’s PURPOSE
What purpose is that, exactly? The purpose of The DSC is to provide a space and an environment where people of all backgrounds can celebrate the joy and freedom of sailing with others. The uniqueness of The DSC lies in the fact that our structure and mission encourages diversity and inclusion through a sport platform that is traditionally set up to be homogeneous and exclusive. The power of The DSC lies in its sailors and their embrace of its core values. The DSC’s core values are rooted in the belief that diversity makes for a stronger organization and a more enjoyable experience. For individual sailors in our community, they can be exactly who they are without modification; for our community, we celebrate the unique attributes of the individuals who sail with us. At The DSC, we embrace sailors for their differences from ourselves rather than their similarities.
The DSC Asks For Your Continued Support
At The DSC, we sail with a purpose. In order to sustain that purpose, I am asking you to invest in The DSC. I know many of our members are in uncertain financial times. I can only imagine how trying life is for some of you right now. In order to remain on course and continue moving ahead, The DSC needs your continuing philanthropic support. Beginning Wednesday, April 1st, The Downtown Sailing Center is launching a $50,000 “Keep Our Ship On Course” fund drive. We invest in people; please consider investing in us.
KEEP OUR SHIP ON COURSE
Though this fundraiser is being launched through our Click & Pledge Portal, I also encourage supporters to use corporate matching during this campaign. We are connected with most employer giving portals, including The United Way, Benevity, The Maryland Charity Campaign, and many corporate platforms. In conjunction, we are soliciting philanthropic gifts from community stakeholders. If you are not in a stable financial place to give right now, please focus on your immediate needs first: your physical and emotional wellbeing are of utmost import. But if you have the financial means and stability, please consider donating to The Downtown Sailing Center during this giving campaign.
Additional Action During This Time of Crisis
This fundraising campaign is just one part of our action plan. In all likelihood, we are shifting our operational plan to focus on a June 10th re-launch. Our team is using technology to keep our members connected and engaged. We are cutting costs wherever possible to make sure we are fiscally lean during this crisis. We are reaching out to participants, volunteers, and program partners. We are working with clients to reschedule lessons and manage our sailors needs without providing a break in service. We are prepping for summer camp, for The Siebel Sailors Program, for Sailing League, and for all of our member programs. All the while, John continues to engage in critical maintenance that keeps our boats afloat.
I truly appreciate your support and dedication to The Downtown Sailing Center Community. The DSC has always proven itself to be a rare and powerful community in the face of adversity, and we will get through this together and be stronger for it.
Stuart T. Proctor, Executive Director