Today we are happy to announce that Anna Carpenter and Whisper Wind have joined the Safe Passage Foundation team of volunteers!

Anna will is starting by developing a network of support resources that will be launching soon for people who are leaving or have left cults, to provide them with a safety net and help navigating life outside the cult. Whisper Wind has volunteered to lead our peer-to-peer support, serving as a point person for triaging support requests and organizing the delivery of emergency aid.

Our team of volunteers do everything in their spare time, and we can use your help too! Contact us if you have time to volunteer!

Many have asked for more visibility into the work Safe Passage Foundation does and the people SPF has helped, which is a fair question when we are asking you for your donations, so when we are able we will make our work public and today we are sharing a thank you note from Rob McClelland, 42, who SPF was able to help through our Emergency Aid Fund.

“I would like to thank Safe Passage Foundation for their generosity. Sometime ago I broke my foot in several places and was unable to work. I did not have enough money to pay the doctor bills along with rent. Safe Passage Foundation gave me financial support which helped me make it through this difficult time when I was unable to help myself. Their work is very important in helping people feel and know there are others that care in time of need.”

If you can, please consider donating to our emergency aid fund, 100% of which goes directly to people who need our support with no operating costs or overhead. Our sponsors cover all our operating costs so every cent you can donate goes right to the people who need it.

Do you want to be a nurse or do you know someone who wants to be a nurse or continue their nursing education? If so, you’ll want to know all about our new scholarship for nursing majors.

Today, we are proud to announce that NurseRecruiter.com (founded by SPF director Robert Gentel) has committed $1000/year to help fund a new Safe Passage Foundation scholarship grant for nursing majors.

To apply for the nursing scholarship, please visit the Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship page and press the Apply button. The eligibility requirements for the nursing scholarship are the same as those for our other scholarships with the additional requirement of being enrolled in or admitted to a nursing degree program.  We will also consider applicants enrolled in a pre-nursing program if they can demonstrate that they are committed to enrolling in nursing school and becoming a nurse.  If you wish to apply as a pre-nursing student, please complete the application and then use our contact form to send us a brief personal statement about your plans to become a nurse and enroll in nursing school.

When approaching prospective donors it is not enough that your organization has good intentions, good people and good plans. You are supposed to! It needs a proven track record of being able to accomplish its plans, a proven track record of being able to execute. The Safe Passage Foundation has been able to do important and valuable work with its scholarship and emergency aid fund when it has had the resources but there are certain economies of scale that are needed to sustain this, and in the last year Safe Passage Foundation was only able to raise roughly $1500, which is just not enough to make a meaningful difference. I have been appointed as SPF Coordinator till the end of the year to try to change this and to reinvigorate SPF and its important work for our community.

Here is my plan on how we are going to do this together:

First of all, it is important to recognize that the main reason that we haven’t been able to do more is that there is only so much that a handful of people (last year it was the bare minimum of 3 people needed to keep the organization alive) can do alone, volunteering in their spare time. And even with the unacceptable level of activity SPF has had, there really isn’t any other greater effort around for our peers, which is behind my personal decision to rally behind it for all the projects I work on. A critical part of this plan will be the organization’s ability to attract others to collaborate together on shared goals so that we can work together to get projects off the ground that we haven’t yet been able to do individually.

The Safe Passage Foundation is actively working on growing our team of volunteers and have the following people to announce who will be joining us, with more to be announced in the very near future. Today we can announce that Steven Levithan and Mariana Mari, both trusted members of our community with a known history of sharing our goals, are joining the SPF board. The SPF Board will vote periodically on SPF leadership and structure, and is also to approve any significant changes to spending resource allocation. It will consist of:

  • Peter Frouman
  • Sarafina Gill
  • Robert Gentel
  • Mariana Mari
  • Steven Levithan

We are also happy to announce that Natacha Tormey has volunteered to help with project coordination and Sharon Borjas with our blog and social media accounts. Many others have approached us to help and we expect to be able to announce new team members in the next days. Here is our organization so far:

Areas of Responsibility

SPF Coordinator: Robert Gentel

  • Setting goals and priorities
  • Messaging and direction
  • Project Coordinator: Natacha Tormey

Administration: Peter Frouman

  • Organization administration
  • Finances
  • Fund Disbursements
  • Websites/Server Administration

Support:  Sarafina Gill

  • Emergency Aid
  • Support Network

Outreach: Mariana Mari

  • Communication
  • PR/Media: Natacha Tormey
  • Blogs and Social Media: Sharon Borjas
  • Fundraising

I also think it is important to set goals and try to commit to them. It puts our reputations on the line and commits us to executing on them. My personal goal is to 10x SPF this year. That is, I am committing to doing whatever it takes to help SPF raise ten times the amount it did last year, meaning we have an initial goal of $15,000 that we will be raising by the end of the year and here are some specifics about how we are going to do this:

  1. We are going to commit to ruthless efficiency. This is something SPF has always done, with very minimal operating costs that mainly consist of bank fees and a handful of online services like hosting. But we don’t want anyone to donate $25 and have it go toward hosting fees so we are committing to having every cent we receive from public donations go toward our core funds. To achieve this, MadLab.com (a company founded by SPF director Robert Gentel) has agreed to sponsor SPF to help cover the current operating costs of the foundation and to provide various technical and marketing services. We are also working on cutting operational overhead costs to the bare minimum, making sure that the board is required to vote on any future significant cost increases and creating an organizational culture that embraces frugality as a core principle.
  2. We are going to commit to ruthless transparency. This too is something SPF has always wanted and because we have repeatedly heard from the community that they would like more insight into the work that SPF does we are going to commit to it as not just a “nice to have” but as a “must have”. SPF’s financial year starts in a few days (April) so there is no better time to start than now. From now on SPF books will public and will be published monthly on our blog. We will also redouble our efforts to communicate about the work that we do and who is involved in it. Many have told us that if they had just known more they would have contributed, and we have taken this to heart and some of the new team members who have volunteered will be dedicated toward doing so.

We are moving very fast and will have more to announce in the next few days, including more about our core projects that we are starting this year and the people who will lead them. We can’t do this without you, so please help however you can whether that is through donations, volunteering your time, and helping to get out the word. We will post weekly updates about where we are in our fundraising and our projects so stay tuned.

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to everyone who organized and attended the special charity dinner event tonight at Il San Pietro Di Positano.  Thanks to your generous support, we raised over $10,000 for Safe Passage Foundation which will enable us to greatly expand the Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship program and replenish the Safe Passage Foundation Emergency Aid Fund.

Special thanks to:

 

 

Safe Passage Foundation is expanding its college scholarship program
Safe Passage Foundation is expanding its college scholarship program

This month, Safe Passage Foundation will be awarding 10 $500 college scholarship grants to individuals born and/or raised in cults. In January 2014, we also awarded 3 $500 scholarship grants. The 13 $500 grants SPF will award in 2014 is more than triple the originally planned amount of 4 $500 grants.

Do you know someone born and/or raised in a cult who could use some help paying for college? If so, please encourage them to apply for a Julia McNeil Memorial Scholarship grant from Safe Passage Foundation.

If you would like to help expand the scholarship program and enable SPF to award even more scholarship grants in 2015, please consider donating to Safe Passage Foundation. We accept donations by credit card, check and Paypal and we even accept Bitcoin.

stacey-paul-rugelyStacey Paul Rugely was born into the Children of God on February 12, 1982 in Sannois, Val-d’Oise, France. After leaving the cult with his family in the early 1990s, he started a new life in the United States but continued to travel the world to work on various art and film projects. Born into a family of musicians, he was passionate about music and in the mid-2000s started a band named Oplexicon.

In April 2014, he became ill and died in Yerevan, Armenia.

Safe Passage Foundation is raising funds to help Stacy’s family bring him home from Armenia and lay him to rest.

Safe Passage Foundation has made an Emergency Aid Fund grant of $250 to Rugely’s relatives to help cover the estimated $15000 in costs. With your support, we can make additional grants to cover more of the costs. As of May 19, 2014, a total of $4610 has been raised (including $4145 raised by Rugely’s relatives on GiveForward).

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Image from the petition to cancel the Jeremy Spencer tour
Image from the petition to cancel the Jeremy Spencer tour

Safe Passage Foundation was recently contacted by several abuse survivors who were dismayed to learn that the man who sexually assaulted them when they were children would be touring the United States and raising money (including on Kickstarter) to produce a new album.

On behalf of these survivors, and in consideration of the extensively documented abuse Jeremy Spencer has been credibly accused of, Safe Passage Foundation created a petition calling for the cancellation of this tour and fundraiser.

Warning: The remainder of this article contains graphic descriptions of child abuse and may be disturbing for some readers.

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Those who are born into groups that segregate themselves from the “outside” world often have a difficult time surviving outside the group they grew up in. Many are left to fend for themselves without any familial support, shunned as “apostates” or “backsliders” by their former peers.

The Safe Passage Foundation was founded by people who knew all too well what this burden could be like to bear. And it is run by volunteers who know more than any why we have to do what we do: because there’s often nobody else to help when one’s family and support system turns on you.

Many of us know people who didn’t make it. Many of us know those who did, despite the odds they had against them. And we are calling on others like them who have survived to help us help our peers who are struggling right now.
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