Just a few years ago, Sarah Nejdl was a new single-engine airplane pilot looking for charity she could work with in her spare time. She soon learned that there was a need for humanitarian flights for domestic violence survivors needing long-distance transportation to a safer environment. But the FAA doesn’t allow private citizens to provide this type of transportation, and there weren’t any organizations in the area Nejdl could work with.
Nejdl stepped up to the challenge. “In Texas, 34 percent of requests for emergency shelter following a domestic violence incident go unmet,” she says. “Often available shelter is too far away, or family willing to help is too far away.” She rallied family and friends and started to build Families to Freedom.
Families to Freedom provides one-way, long-distance transportation to survivors of domestic violence survivors in order to reunite them with family or get to shelter.
To learn more about Families to Freedom, visit familiestofreedom.org.
“My personal goal to open in one year happened largely thanks to the assistance of my mentor,” Nejdl says. Families to Freedom now has a network of volunteers providing ground and air transportation from a wide radius around the Dallas-Forth Worth area.
“My initial mentor, Linda Gray, has helped our nonprofit from formation to launch,” Nejdl says. “She was there when we were preparing to file as an entity with the state, she was there when plans for a fundraiser event came together, and she’s here now that we’re open for service and recruiting volunteers.”
Nejdl had a business plan, but she knew she needed help to be both passionate and effective as a business leader. She attended two live workshops before teaming up with mentor Linda Gray. Gray helped Nejdl navigate bylaws, refine her business plan, and figure out how to find funding for her project.
Nejdl has also worked with Stan Booth to work on salesmanship and networking. Meanwhile, Al Garcia has offered his expertise in strategic planning and prioritizing executive duties.
“It’s great knowing there’s support for executive level challenges,” Nejdl says.