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Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: How Can I Accomplish My Dream?

Dear E. Jean,

I have an unusual dilemma. My mother and I would like to buy/obtain land in Ocala, FL, open a sanctuary and call it Willow Star Haven.

This will be a wellness center for the elderly, a no-kill animal rescue shelter with a vet on site, and a children’s center for kids with learning disabilities. My mother is already working on the getting the permits. But obviously it will require a lot of money to bring our dream to life. Can you give me some ideas for fund raising? We can’t afford to hire a fund-raising firm. — A Better Tomorrow

To see E. Jean's answer


Better, My Buttercup,

You’re going to need the bloodlines of Tinsley Mortimer, the brain of Eleanor Roosevelt, the brilliance of Mother Theresa, the stamina of Oprah, and the energy of cocaine addict just to find a decent parcel of land in Ocala, let alone buy it and build the sanctuary. But, so what? I completely and totally believe you can do it.


Because the only people who can accomplish anything this huge are the crazy ones — crazy to save dogs and cats, crazy to nurture kids, crazy to entertain old white-haired people. (Or as Jack Kerouac says: “the mad ones . . . the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn")

I also looked you up online, and I see that you have already established yourself as a non-profit charitable trust. Excellent! Anyone who can endure the interminable grind of obtaining 501c3 status from the IRS, can endure anything.

I advise you to start small. Don’t try to do the animal shelter AND the wellness center for the codgers AND the kids all at once. You must think like a corporation: Do one thing very well, establish a presence, burnish your reputation, gain the respect of the people of Ocala, and then you can start going to large corporations and soliciting funds.

To get the seed money for the land and the building materials, I suggest you seek partnerships with local businesses. (Begin with talking to their marketing/PR/advertising department heads.) It will be a boost for their company image to be connected with your sanctuary and good for you because they will give you the wherewithal to start! Good luck!

P.S. To see what just one little girl can do, look at this video! Her dad teaches at our local high school here.

To see more advice from E. Jean, visit Elle magazine and

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