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Reach For the Stars December 2020 Newsletter By: K&C

December Newsletter!

Letter from the CEO

RFTS charity was founded Kira Reid and I in June of this year. Our goal was to expand to as many people in-need as possible while also sharing knowledge of the sky. People often ask us “Why Space and food?” It might seem like an interesting combination to many, but to us, it is quite simple, beautiful and unique. 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger and 1 in 5 children live below the federal poverty line. This could be your child’s best friend, your neighbors, your co-worker or even someone in your family that is too worried to ask for help. Not only is hunger in the households of every county in America, but then there is homelessness. In Pima County alone, there are 2,100 individuals living on the streets. This could be due to a job loss, eviction, illness, or even domestic abuse. The point in all of this is that each one of these situations can cause anxiety, stress and even addiction. Reach For The Stars wanted to offer the community food, hygiene and something else…. An opportunity to have a moment of peace. That is where our space exploration comes in. It allows the community, our clients and their children to take a moment, forget about the days struggles and Reach For The Stars.

IMPORTANT UPDATES:

  1. BIG NEWS! Join Our Galaxy: Reach For The Stars now has a monthly membership! $25/month to be a RFTS VIP Click here for more information: Better Unite Membership Website
  2. Website: RFTS charity is happy to have launched a CHARITY GIFT SHOP. 100% of the purchase price will help fund our three vital programs. To view: go to www.rftstars.com/shop or click here
  3. We are now IRS approved & any donation since 26Aug2020 can be written off on your taxes. Please email for a receipt! RFTStarsorg@gmail.com
Join us at our next stargazing event

What's been happening with the 3 programs?

#1 - Our Food Program

RFTS has provided over 22,428 meals to families and the homeless community in Vail and parts of the Tucson area this month alone! This includes providing Christmas food bags to families and homeless individuals in-need (with the help of volunteers and St. Rita’s!)

During our journey, RFTS has had the pleasure of getting to know our families. Having a non-judgmental relationship allows our clients to feel comfortable sharing their Holiday experiences with us. This even happens after they no longer need services. This even allows our families to feel comfortable enough to ask for further assistance. RFTS does not always have those resources, but if we can point our clients in the direction that fits their needs, we do.

Many of our families simply need help with food, some hygiene and some a little extra TLC. Thanks to Four Arrows Garden, Jennifer, Stephanie, St Vincent de Paul, Regina, Samantha, and many other donors, families and children received trees, gifts & clothes that they would not have received otherwise.

“I’m so over the moon right now. Not only did you help my family with Christmas food and just repairing my soul and stress relief in taking care of my little guys… but you also gave my baby gifts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You saved my family.” (Pregnant Mother of 2 boys)

Moving on up!

There are perks to working from home and then there are major set backs. RFTS is proud to say that with your help (from donations and Jim Click Raffle Ticket purchases) we have procured a trailer.

This Trailer will allow RFTS to make room in their garage for more storage of Food Program and Homeless Outreach items (i.e. commercial fridge/freezer etc.). The trailer will also allow for the pick up of more food palettes and allow for more equipment and telescopes to be transported to and from Stargazing Events. We are very excited, and it was a bargain!

Did you know?

Did you know that Reach For The Stars feeds animals too! Yes, most of these families have dogs and/or cats. Also, some of our homeless clients do too. We don't always have pet food, but when we do, it goes right back out the door!

Why do homeless individuals have dogs?

  • Did you know that a huge misconception is that homeless individuals have animals but don't take care of them.
  • A Homeless individual will most always feed their animal before feeding themselves.
  • Homeless men/women need companions just like us. So if they see a stray dog or even cat... why shouldn't they love on it?
  • Homeless souls get attacked, spit on, and robbed almost daily. Having a dog, is a sure way to notify them if someone or something is "off"
  • During the winter, 2 is better than 1... they keep each other warm.
  • Having a animal provides them a "best friend" which in turn provides them a purpose to wake up everyday. An animal is always loyal and loves their owner. They provide hope.

#2 - Homeless Outreach Program

Swapping Trashbags For Backpacks

What comes 1st? Addiction or homelessness? The chicken or the egg?

“Many people have been increasing their intake of alcohol, which is easier to track because of sales, but this leads me to believe that illicit drugs are also being more consumed due to the overall depression that COVID-19 has put upon the world. The loss of social interactions, the loss of jobs and the loss of loved ones is very devastating and can lead to a ‘who cares’ attitude and substance misuse.” (https://tucson.com/news/tucsons-rise-in-drug-overdose-deaths-could-be-linked-to-pandemic/article_ed773af2-5dfc-5fc6-85c1-2ddd0b9cde02.html0)

It is estimated that once the eviction moratorium is up, 300 in Tucson will be evicted immediately. That is 300 families!

Many families are scared of becoming homeless, and many homeless are looking for housing. Its a cycle... and what can we do? We can help point them to the resources they need, we can feed them, we can provide them hygiene, and we can provide them hope that this is temporary.

Our goal is to include a naloxone kit (overdose prevention) in every food box and back pack with instructions and statistics. Contact us if you'd like to have one in your home, or if you have any questions about it.

Thank you to Sonoran Prevention Works for the 200 kits! -RFTS

Christmas

Thank you St Rita's Team & all the donors!! - RFTS Team

Thank you to everyone who donated time, money, gifts, kindness and food this Holiday season!

#3 - Monthly Star Party Program

THE GREAT CONJUNCTION OF SATURN AND JUPITER - FIRST TIME SINCE 1623!

It was an absolute pleasure to spend this once in a lifetime evening with the best community around! What a fun, educational and inspiring event. Each one of you witnessed history, something that hasn't been seen since just after Shakespeare's Death. Actually, not one person saw or knew what was happening. Telescopes were not invented yet! How crazy is that to think about! An unforgettable evening. Thank you all for coming.

This event was almost cancelled! On the way to the event, our trailer popped off the hitch when we hit a bump! Our hearts dropped and the trailer swerved side to side and skidded on the front trailer jack foot. We were so scared that everything inside had been destroyed. To our surprise, nothing was damaged! The trailer was fine! After 20 minutes of re-hitching it and cars honking, we continued and arrived a bit late, but everything turned out fine! We believe the universe was aligning for us, and this was cemented when the evening went perfectly, including the weather. Our only words... "Wow"

“Never underestimate how much you give to the community as you open up the skies to us and give us peeks into the universe. Seeing the Christmas Star, the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter were breathtaking last night” (Regina, Vail AZ)

Star Party Photos From December!

We have worked very hard to provide a safe and fun environment at every event. We follow the recommended guidelines and even go above and beyond with measures never before used in the world that we know of. After getting approval with our measures, we reached out to the International Astronomy Association and gave them our list of measures we take to be able to continue these star parties i.e. the personal plexiglass sheets... Before, every club nationally was shut down, but because of our efforts, 16 astronomy clubs are back at it having star parties and sharing the night sky with their community!

When Dreams Come True

A Donation That's Out-Of-This-World... A Gift That Will Keep On Giving...

Let us introduce you to John and Brenda Nejedlo. John messaged me out of the blue, and said he and his lovely wife had been watching our progress here at RFTS for a while. He stated that they loved what we are doing because it resonated true with what they themselves have been doing for years; Sharing the night sky through star parties for free. John believes everyone deserves to see the beauty of space, the mystery, perspective and wonder. He said they were ready to make a change, and they were driving towards Arizona (our home) to drop off a donation for us. . .

John and Brenda Nejedlo (left) and their home one wheels named The Death Star, sporting the RV-Nomad flag (right)

John and Brenda are true heros of mine. They decided to drop everything and make a life change because something in the universe gave them a feeling that they should leave "normal home life" and live amongst nature and its beauty. This takes guts, ambition and perseverance. John left the police force and science teacher career behind, while Brenda put aside her masters in music, and passion for singing to venture out onto the open road. They began traveling to every state park in the USA. With the open road brings darkness. True Bortle 1 darkness. John's prior interest in Astronomy led him to buy a telescope, and Brenda looked at Saturn for the first time. Brenda broke down in joyful tears... and this was it, they knew what they wanted to do. Travel our beautiful Earth, bringing their telescopes with them and share space with free day and nighttime presentations to the public. They also go to high schools and elementary schools to educate our youth about the vast importance of space. Sound familiar?

A Clip from their Facebook page

John and Brenda have been doing this for years. They are able to live off grid for days, even weeks at a time with the help of their decked out trailer that's covered in solar panels! Battle Born Batteries partnered with them to install thousands of pounds of batteries and the solar system (wink wink) set up, so they can make the most of their journey and power their star parties, a/c, etc without any loud generator. This is a one-of-a-kind system that deserves applause.

This wonderful couple made RFTS dreams come true. They gave us their crown jewel, 20 inch computerized Obsession telescope, a case of eyepieces and all the necessary equipment needed to run the entire setup! We never imagined this would be possible, and we never thought people would be so giving, but it goes to show you that you just never know what is around the corner. Keep pushing forward. Never give up. Stay true and honest to yourself and the possibilities are endless.

John and Brenda even turned down offers of payment for this beautiful telescope from buyers, and committed to choosing RFTS to give this marvelous piece of engineering to. They knew it would be shared with the world through our events, and we promise to do just that.

With this amazing donation, they got rid of some serious weight in their trailer, and are now setting their eyes on a more relaxed venture. They will be headed to Theodore Roosevelt National park to volunteer their time and knowledge to the park goers. The national park has its own star party events and telescopes, so they don't need to worry about setting up everything, they will just have fun and enjoy the mesmerizing dark skies while talking about astronomy!

Taken from their website about page - We enjoy dark sky astronomy locations across western North America. We are retired, full-time RVers who give free astronomy presentations as we travel. During the summer, we are volunteers in the park (VIPs) at Theodore Roosevelt National Park assisting with their astronomy program. Our unique setup allows us to boondock for extended periods of time. Feel free to stop over and say, “Hello”.

John and Brenda are always on the road, traveling and sharing their passions with others. Here is a sneak peak about who they are.

Here is a great video that shows more of the astronomy side of things. Give it a watch and enjoy!

Read more or book a private event on their website: Geoastrorv.com

Thank you John and Brenda. From the bottom of our hearts, your kindness and generosity will travel the stars for years to come.

This month RFTS hosted 2 very successful Star Gazing Events in Vail. One at the Vail Coffee Stop, and one at Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead. There were about 300 attendees (intermittently), and we raised $585 (combined) towards RFTS charity programs and collected over 30 lbs of non-perishable food & hygiene. You all rock!

A huge thank you to everyone who came out, donated money and goods to us. It was such a blessing to team up with you! We can't wait to continue this local event and make it a tradition for the community! If you have any feedback, ideas or want to volunteer and help with set up/tear down, please message us!

"The Future Lies with Today's Youth & Tomorrows Space Exploration"

With the help of YOU we raised (to date) $900 for the Telescopes for Kids Program. In December RFTS gifted 2 telescopes. In total RFTS has gifted 11 families with telescopes impacting 38 children and 20 adults.

If you would like to help us continue to spread hope and inspire our youth, then this program is for you! Please click the button below to jump to our website donation page.

Here are some of the wonderful people we gifted a telescope to. Now imagine how much fun a child (and adult) can have seeing Saturn's rings or Jupiter's moons!

Spreading joy and inspiration is one of our missions and thanks to everyone who donates to the Amplified Silence (AS) telescope program, it's WORKING. Spreading smiles and hope across the galaxy.

Telescope Donation Recipients!
"There is no other place in the world like RFTS. I can't thank you enough. Never would I have been able to get a telescope for my son before Christmas, especially for free. Bless your hearts!" (Telescope Parent winner)

ASTRO IMAGE OF THE MONTH

NO ENTRIES FOR DECEMBER

Don't forget to submit your image to be featured in our next newsletter & to win a prize!

RFTS Financials

Found at www.RFTStars.com

What we need & how to donate?

Food Pantry: Cold & pantry food items, snacks, canned food, boxed meals etc.

Homeless Outreach: Backpacks, mini hygiene, small foods, blankets, beanies, gloves & long johns

Star Party: Telescopes to use at Star Parties, Flashlights, tables, chairs, event equipment, eyepieces, small telescopes for kids/teens, future scholarship donations money for inbound college students (STEM degree), donations for upkeep on equipment, tripods etc.

If you prefer to donate monetarily, 100% gets split into the 4 Charity Programs

Zelle: RFTstarsorg@gmail.com PayPal: RFTstarsorg@gmail.com CashApp: $RFTstars Check: Payable to: Reach For The Stars 10895 S Arrowhead Spring Drive Vail, Az 85641

**contact us for a receipt if you donate online**

Also, below is our Amazon Food Program & Homeless Outreach Wish List (feel free to add things you think are good to have (Please add RFTS to your Amazon Smile):

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/dl/invite/e2TzsFP?ref_=wl_share

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/dl/invite/aMtXoBV?ref_=wl_share

Current Company Supporters/Partners

As each month ends, RFTS reflects on the words of those that have been affected in a positive way by these programs. EVERY person sends a heartfelt THANK YOU, and will remember the time when they were desperate, and someone came.
Thank you Jenny Motzkin!
Thank you Pinal Fire & Medical District!
Thank you Curtis!
Thank you Vail Coffee Stop Family!
Thank you Regina!
Thank you Mark!
Thank you to ALL the private donors, we cannot do this without you all!
  • All images taken by RFTStars team unless specified otherwise (all client pictures are private and should not be shared or copied).
  • All posters, flyers, coupons, logos and other advertising media is created in house by RFTStars (excluding donor logos).

End - December 2020 Newsletter

Created By
Carlos Kira
Appreciate

Credits:

Main Photos by Carlos Aragon