About Stephanie

Stephanie is the founder of San Antonio Nerd Night and currently serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary/Treasurer.

Charity Spotlight: Texas Burn Survivor Society

June’s partner organization is the Texas Burn Survivor Society. TBSS founder David Jayne was critically burned in a helicopter accident and spent three years enduring treatment and rehab at Brooke Army Medical Center’s Burn Unit. David and his wife Jane were determined to provide the kind of support for others they themselves had so sorely needed, and in 1962 TBSS was born.

Since formally organizing in 1996, TBSS has created successful programs of patient support which have assisted thousands of burn and thermal injury survivors to achieve a successful return to normal and productive lives. These include purchasing scar management garments for burn survivors who can’t afford them otherwise, providing emergency assistance of all kinds to burn survivors and their families, a scholarship program for burn survivors to help them obtain vocational degrees, several programs working with wounded warriors, a peer support group, a fire and burn prevention education program in association with the San Antonio Fire Department, and Camp David, a summer camp for burn survivors, their siblings, or children of burn survivors ages 7-16.

Camp DavidWe will be stuffing backpacks for Camp David. The camp provides pediatric burn survivors with a week of adventure, discovery and fun, designed specifically for pediatric burn survivors aged 7 to 16. Camp David is unique among burn camps because it also includes siblings and children of burn survivors, whose lives are also severely impacted by burn injury. This amazing camp is made available to the children free of charge.

11755824_1086064558089215_354587327223238191_nCamp David, named in honor of TBSS co-founded David Jayne, is in its 21st year and will take place July 10-16 at Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, where it has been since 2007. On average, the camp hosts 55 campers each year. This year, they will host at least 65 campers. The camp is financed by private donations and is free of charge for all campers.

10985040_1086066988088972_9013959566192124012_nAt Camp David, children learn the core spiritual values which enhance the ability to survive injury and gain the self-confidence, self-esteem and coping skills that will allow them to re-enter and function happily in society. Surrounded by caring mentors, volunteers of the Texas Burn Survivor Society, and the incredible men and women of the San Antonio, Austin, and Kerrville Fire Departments. Camp David allows the children to discover that anything is possible. Here, potential has no limit.

For further information about Camp David or Texas Burn Survivor Society, visit texasburnsurvivors.org, call 210-824-8499, e-mail tbssinfo@sbcglobal.net, or visit their Facebook page.

Camp David Group Picture

Backpack Items

Beach Towels/Large Bath Towels

School Supplies

Snack Items (granola bars, sugar free mints/gum, etc.)

Beanie Babies or Similar Small Stuffed Animals

Small Puzzle Toys

Small Journals or Notepads

Decals and Stickers

Friendship Bracelets

 

International Tabletop Day and Updates

Apologies for my absence from this blog lately, I started a new job and things have been super-crazy!

To start, here are some pics from International Tabletop Day. It was great to meet so many new people and see so many old friends. We collected some books ahead of tomorrow’s Nerd Night, and Kelly, Nathan and I handed out about 100 postcards to attendees. We had about 150 people at ITTD, so congrats to GaMExpo on a very successful day! The space at Wonderland of the Americas is huge, and that’s definitely something to keep in mind for future events.

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Giant GaMExpo game library!

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Silent auction. All proceeds to benefit San Antonio Youth Literacy!

 

2016-04-30 13.44.32

Knight Watch Games was one of the vendors.

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Childs Play

2016-04-30 13.42.40

Alamo City Fleet Command

As I mentioned, tomorrow is Nerd Night. We’re hoping for a huge turnout to support Book Buddies and San Antonio Youth Literacy. Pick up a kids book (here’s a link if you need ideas) and come play games with us at Geeks Cafe from 7-midnight. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this month (*ahem* The Cure live in Austin! *ahem*), but I am leaving you all in the capable hands of Lisa, Keller and Nathan. I know it’s going to be a great night.

Lastly, our big news this month: San Antonio Nerd Night, Inc. is now a registered 501(c)(3) public charity! This means all donations are tax-deductible, among other benefits. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to our fundraiser to make this happen – you can now deduct that contribution from your 2016 tax return!

The Big Give

Today’s a big day! The Big Give S.A. is all day today, May 3. For those who may not be familiar, The Big Give S.A. is a 24-hour day of giving. It’s organized by the Texas Nonprofit Council and the San Antonio Area Foundation, with the support of the New Braunfels Community Center and the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country.

The Big Give S.A. launched in 2014 with a goal of raising $1 million in donations for local nonprofits. They exceeded that goal, with $2 million in donations raised.

In 2015, The Big Give S.A. expanded to include the 11 surrounding counties and doubled the goal, increasing it to $4 million. Again, it was exceeded, raising over $4.3 million raised for local nonprofit organizations.

The goal this year is $6 million, and all the nonprofits we have helped in this past year or will help later this year are fundraising extra-hard today! Many are participating in special events all day. Here are their Big Give links. If a particular organization over the last year was special to you, or if one of our upcoming nonprofit partners has a special place in your heart, please give and GIVE BIG!

Elf Louise (November 2015/16)

San Antonio Food Bank (December 2015/16)

Family Violence Prevention Services (January 2016)

SAMMinistries (February 2016/July 2016)

Animal Defense League (March 2016)

San Antonio AIDS Foundation (April 2016)

San Antonio Youth Literacy (May 2016)

Texas Burn Survivor Society (June 2016)

The Rape Crisis Center (August 2016)

Texas Diaper Bank (October 2016)

For any questions about The Big Give S.A., you may reach a Big Give team member at 210.774.GIVE.

April Wrap-Up; Big News!

So I’m waaaaaaaay late with my April wrap-up post, apologies. It’s been a hectic few weeks. We had a successful evening a couple of weeks ago, you guys outdid yourselves with the donations once again. It’s very much appreciated.

I think we’ve finally figured out the right way to seat people at Geeks Café, so our overcrowding issues should be much alleviated. If that kept anyone away this last time, please come out and see us in May. I promise it will be better. We’re making much better use of the space, and we’ve obtained more chairs and tables. Thank you to Geeks Café for being such a great partner for this event every month. You guys are amazing.

Some pictures from the night… Not as many as usual due to operator (me) error:

Samantha, Sean and Stephanie playing Evolution

Samantha, Sean and Stephanie playing Evolution

Game Library

Game Library

Name Tags!

Name Tags!

 

SAAF Nerd Night Donations

Judy from SAAF posing Vanna-style with the donations table.

Our Big News

The 501(c)(3) is FILED! Hopefully our application will sail through in ways that defy everything any of us know about the IRS and we’ll have some good news to report on that front soon.

Also Very Big News

In June, we will begin hosting a second monthly event. This event will be a Sunday afternoon/evening version of Nerd Night, and we will have date, location, and all that good stuff ready to announce at the beginning of May.

Other (less, but no less awesome) Big News

We had our quarterly board meeting last weekend, and boy, are you guys going to be excited when some of the things we’re planning are ready to be made public! We’ve just about finalized the rest of the year’s partner organizations, and I think you guys will really be able to get behind all of these groups. We’re thrilled to be hosting book drives for Book Buddies at both of our next events (International Tabletop Day at Wonderland Mall and May Nerd Night), and I will be updating our calendar here to reflect all the groups we’ve made arrangements with through the end of the year. Some new faces, some old ones that we just enjoyed a heck of a lot.

As always, I want to express my gratitude for the support and generosity that you all have shown at every single Nerd Night event so far. None of this would be possible without all of you. Hope to see everyone at ITTD at Wonderland Mall on April 30th! Come on out and support a pile of local gaming organizations at the largest local ITTD event!

Charity Spotlight: Book Buddies

Book Buddies is an initiative of San Antonio Youth Literacy, an organization founded in 1984 to provide one-on-one reading assistance to elementary school children through the Reading Buddies program. They attempt to increase the number of children reading at grade level while fostering their enjoyment of reading.

SAYL is committed to reducing functional illiteracy among the youth of San Antonio and seeing that every child in South Texas enters 3rd grade reading at level. Reading Buddies provides one-to-one reading assistance to elementary children in 65 schools across San Antonio. Volunteers tutor children who struggle with basic reading and comprehension skills.

Book Buddies collects books suitable for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade and distributes them at the end of the school year in free book fairs at their Reading Buddy Schools.

Children choose books to take home to read over the summer, which helps prevent the “summer slide” — a regression in learning over summer vacation when they are not being actively taught. Studies also show that children who grow up in homes without books, and who are not read to as children, are far more likely to fall behind in school, fail to complete high school, and suffer the unfortunate outcomes associated with failure: drug use, criminal behavior, early pregnancy, etc.

The Reading Buddy program exists in San Antonio Title 1 schools where at least 75% of the families are below the poverty line. Children at these schools attend the free book fairs at the end of the school year and take the books home and keep them as their own. They can read them over the summer, share them with family and friends, or even their parents. In many cases these donated books are the only books in the home. An added benefit is that children in more advantaged homes learn to share their no longer needed books with another child.

May Nerd Night is holding a book drive to collect books for this year’s fairs. Bring your new or gently used books to Geeks Café on May 13th!

Types of Books Needed

Picture Books (Example: Where the Wild Things Are)
I Can Read series
Children’s chapter books
Any book appropriate up to a 6th grade level

Amazon Shopping Suggestions 

I don’t want your money.

I don’t want your money.

Now that I have your attention… I’m going to address something that only a couple of people have spoken to me about directly, but I’ll assume is more widely-thought based on some pretty clear evidence.

Last month, I launched a crowd funding campaign to raise money for a number of Nerd Night expenses – past, current and future hopes and dreams types of things – and to put it bluntly, the response has been underwhelming. I know the people who attend our events are generous folks, I see evidence of that every month when I load up piles of donations into my car. I see it when people smile and look astonished at the huge pile of stuff I’m unloading in front of their nonprofit’s offices. I see it when people text me asking what they can bring, what’s needed. I see it all the time. So I was surprised at the lack of contributions to the campaign, a little sad and hurt even. It was disappointing.

A couple of friends came to me after the March event and wanted to talk about it, they said that people had been burned by nonprofits asking for cash, they didn’t see what we needed the money for, they wanted to dissect our monthly expenses. I think (I hope) I did a pretty good job of listening. They had some good points. I’m probably going to take a few of their suggestions.

See, I know I’m a control freak. I’ve had (and I’ve been pretty upfront about this) a hard time relinquishing control of ALL THE THINGS to people who are willing to help. And that’s hard, because I need the help, so I have to let them in. I’m trying! Like I said, I see my failing here. But you need to understand:

Everything that’s been bought for San Antonio Nerd Night thus far (with one exception) has come entirely out of my personal bank account. Monthly postcard printing, the banner that hangs at our events, our web hosting, the Meetup group, social media promotion boosts, fees to file forms, the shirts people wear with the logo on it, gas to drive donations where they need to go, door prizes… It comes out to quite a bit of money. It’s money that’s just gone; most of it can’t be reimbursed, it was before we incorporated. I don’t begrudge any of it; I wouldn’t have started the group if it bothered me at all. It’s just not sustainable as we move forward.

Beyond that, now that we are a nonprofit, with a board of directors with different ideas about how we’d like to grow? They all bring amazing things to the table. I wouldn’t have asked them to help me if I didn’t adore their brains. But they all have ideas! So many wonderful, exciting, interesting ideas. And all of those ideas need THINGS. Now, I know we can’t do everything at once. We’re trying to grow in a measured way. But when something comes up that’s completely doable, if we just had a little capital, and we have to turn it down because there is $90 in the bank account, that’s very frustrating. None of us have the money to just write a check.

“But wait,” you’re saying right now. “I thought she said she DIDN’T want our money?”

I don’t. I wish I could keep paying for it all forever. But I can’t. In order for Nerd Night to become what I’ve imagined, what the board envisions, a charity organization with the ability to really make a difference in San Antonio, we need more than what I can personally fund. However, I respect what I’m hearing from those of you who maybe can’t trust where the money will end up. So, here’s a small breakdown.

  • We need $400 to file our 501(c)(3) paperwork, which is required to get tax-exempt status on everything we purchase for the group, from printing to t-shirts to games for the game library. This would save us a lot of money.
  • Approximately $420/year in web hosting and Meetup fees.
  • Approximately $40/month in promotional printing (postcards, signage, etc) for a total of $480/year. I get a very good deal on this, because I work for a printer.

This comes out to a total of $1300. I requested $2000 in the crowd funding campaign because I wanted a small cushion in the account for fronting projects that come up unexpectedly – things like economical t-shirt printing, or fees to participate in events like the King William Fair (or Fiesta in general) – we were invited to participate in that this year but have had to turn it down due to not being able to pay the booth fees – or a Nerd Night game library so that we’re not relying on my and other people’s personal game collections at our events. We have miscellaneous things that come up from time to time, like any organization. A binder to keep our meeting minutes in, or making copies of the bylaws before our initial board meeting so everyone could read them ahead of the vote, a fee to the state of Texas to do a search on our desired corporate name before filing our certificate of incorporation – you know, just expenses that any group trying to stay organized and follow the rules and put on great events might have.

This has gotten really long, and if the tone is different from my usual blog posts, I apologize. I’m frankly a little down about the money stuff. I love this group of people. And I look at San Antonio Nerd Night as more than just a gaming group. In fact, I don’t even think of it primarily as a gaming group – it’s a charity organization that happens to game. And as such there’s a certain amount of sacrifice I’m prepared to make personally. None of this money is for ME. It’s going into the SANN bank account. The crowd funding is set up as a “personal” fundraiser because we aren’t 501(c)(3) yet so I CAN’T set it up any other way.

If any of you have any questions about this and want to discuss it, please feel free to reach out to me or to any of the other board members. I’m going to be putting their contact information up on the website shortly. I don’t want to ask for your money over and over, I don’t want to ask for it at all. I’m hoping that with a little bit of seed money, we can make whatever money we might need to be self-sustaining. Please consider contributing.

– Stephanie

San Antonio Nerd Night Fundraiser on Crowdrise

Charity Spotlight: San Antonio AIDS Foundation

About The San Antonio AIDS Foundation

The San Antonio AIDS Foundation was founded in 1986 by Papa Bear, aka Robert Edwards, to respond to the medical and social crisis of AIDS in the 1980s at a time when many were afraid and there was little assistance for people who were sick. SAAF’s mission is to provide compassionate medical care and social services to people with HIV/AIDS, and to help prevent the spread of HIV through education, counseling and testing.

SAAF began in the back of a bar with an all-volunteer-staffed hospice and seven clients, and has grown into a multi-service agency reaching thousands of individuals every year with healthcare, support services and prevention education outreach. All the services provided are free, with a requested sliding scale donation for those who can pay.

SAAF is the only organization in Texas that offers residential HIV/AIDS special care/hospice facilities and is the largest licensed HIV/AIDS special care facility in the state. They also operate Carson House, a 20-bed transitional housing facility for HIV-positive homeless individuals, and the only mobile HIV-testing unit in Bexar County.

Some of the services SAAF offers are:

  • Testing and Education
  • Special Care Facility and Hospice Care
  • Case Management
  • Hot Meal Program
  • Short-Term Transitional Housing
  • Dental Assistance

San Antonio Nerd Night will be partnering with SAAF this month to collect items to support the needs of their in-house and transitional housing clients. Please join us as we help SAAF further their mission of compassionate care for all those with HIV/AIDS without discrimination on any basis. Nerd Night is Friday, April 8th, and needed items are:

Men’s Boxer Underwear (M/L)
Men’s Slippers
Men’s T-Shirts (M/L)
Men’s Socks
Men’s Flip Flops (11-13)
Women’s Flip Flops (S/M/L)
Men’s and Women’s Deodorant
Furniture (primarily Dressers/Nightstands)
Used DVDs
Dish Soap
Cleaning Sponges
Bed Sheets, Twin (Fitted and Flat)
Bath Towels

 

 

March Nerd Night Wrap-Up

Going to the Dogs

Hello again! Thank you to everyone for a super successful March Nerd Night. We gathered a ton of things for the Animal Defense League and I delivered them earlier this week. They were over the moon about the quantity of items. It’s always a good feeling when I drop off the donations, so thanks to all of you for a bright spot in my Monday.

Animal Defense League Donations

A note on Nerd Nights going forward. We know we were overcrowded, and we’re working with Geeks Cafe on a way to alleviate that – new table layouts, more chairs, maybe moving the sofas somewhere… long story short we know it was hard to move around and we want you guys to have a comfortable place to game, so we’ll work on it for next time!

Speaking of next time

April’s charity is the San Antonio AIDS Foundation. Spotlight to come soon. The date is April 8th. We’ll be gathering items for clients of their housing and hospice programs.

Our next event, though, is ReDo Recess at the DoSeum. I’m looking for a few people to come with us and hand out postcards, talk about Nerd Night, and help out with staffing their event. You’ll get a free ticket to Recess (which is a lot of fun) and also I’ll be decking you out in a fabulous Nerd Night polo that you can wear to future events! If you’re interested drop me a line (steph@sanerdnight.org) ASAP please.

Who knew you all were so photogenic?

Thanks to Lene Griego of Master Photography by LG for graciously sharing her photos of the event with me! So much nicer than my camera phone pictures.

Don Jennings - Animal Defense League - Master Photography by LG

Don Jennings from the Animal Defense League speaks about their mission.

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Don Williams - Animal Defense League - Master Photography by LG

Childs Play March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Childs Play had their mobile store at the event.

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Geek Out SA March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Geek Out SA doing that podcast thing they do.

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

This game involved donuts, I’m told. And there’s a kickstarter? Someone give me links.

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Red Star Gaming March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Red Star Gaming

March Nerd Night - Master Photography by LG

Crowdfunding, Nerd Night Updates

Hey nerds!

It’s been a while since my last post. Things have been busy at Nerd Night HQ, aka my house, and I figured it was time for a quick update.

Last month, five of your fellow Nerd Nighters and I gathered at my house and formed San Antonio Nerd Night, Inc. We’re now an official nonprofit corporation, registered with the state of Texas. We’re a board of six, and I’ll get some information up about the board soon once we determine how that’s going to be put out there. Our first order of business is obtaining our 501(c)(3) status, which is expensive and involves a lot of forms, like anything the federal government, and especially the IRS, is in charge of – so that’s quite an undertaking. To that end, we’re raising money on Crowdrise. You might have seen my posts on Facebook or Twitter about this, and I’ll speak on it more at Nerd Night on Friday, but the short version is that we need several hundred dollars for the application and I’m not able to front it myself. Thus, the wonderful world of crowdfunding. If everyone gives a little, we’ll have what we need in no time.

Nerd Night is this Friday! Join us at Geeks Cafe on Babcock and bring an item (or two or ten) to support the Animal Defense League of Texas. The donation wish list is available at this event link and there’s sure to be something there you can find easily at a store near you. We’ll have a guest speaker from ADL and her canine friend.

Joining us on Friday will be Childs’ Play Games & Geekery, a mobile game store run by Sarah Childs and based in New Braunfels. She is graciously donating a portion of all game sales to the ADL, so if you play a game you especially enjoy, see if she has a copy with her! They also offer local free delivery to the San Antonio area.

Speaking of generous Nerd Night partners, Geeks Cafe will be donating a portion of all food sales on Friday night as well. Do we have the best friends or what?

See you all on Friday night!

Charity Spotlight: Animal Defense League of Texas

About Animal Defense League of Texas

The Animal Defense League was established in 1934 “for the prevention of cruelty to animals; to provide kind and humane treatment of animals; and to aid and assist the enforcement of laws enacted for the prevention of animal cruelty.”

While they began their mission with a few makeshift chicken-wire cages to shelter stray cats and dogs in the San Antonio area, ADL has grown to a 12-acre campus with a pet park, an adoption center, a small retail store, and a 5,000 square-foot clinic that provides on-site spay and neuter surgery, surgery for injured and ill animals, as well as veterinary care for all resident animals.

ADL is a true no-kill shelter, which means animals are never euthanized if they can be treated and returned to health. No animal is ever euthanized to make room for others. The mission of the Animal Defense League is to enhance the quality of life for abandoned, abused, or neglected animals by providing needed medical care, food, shelter, and safety along with compassion and attention. They provide a number of services, including:

  • Sheltering animals, regardless of their conditions when they arrive
  • Complete medical treatment for all resident animals
  • Full-time veterinary staff
  • Humane education programs
  • Adoption services to help resident animals find forever homes

ADL is supported through adoption fees, grants, bequests, donations and a number of special events to raise funds. We will be collecting donations to support the work of the Animal Defense League at our March 11th Nerd Night. Needed items are:

General Needs

Brooms & String Mops
Copy Paper
Hand Sanitizer
Heavy Duty Water Hoses
Laundry Detergent
Bleach
Trash Bags (33 gallon)
Newspapers
Strip-Shredded Paper
Lawnmowers, Weedeaters, and Edgers
Electric Space Heaters
Refrigerators
Nailguns and Drills
100 ft. Electric Snake
Steam Mop

Animal-Specific Needs

KONG and “Hard Plastic” Toys
Blankets (any size)
Towels
Heating Pads
Nebulizers
Canned Kitten Food
Puppy and Kitten Toys
Dog and Cat Toys
Pedigree Canned Dog Food
Esbilac Puppy Formula
KMR Kitten Milk Replacement
Gerber 2nd FOOD Chicken
Beech Nut Stage 1 Chicken
Plastic Kiddie Pools
Baby Wipes