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Tucson AZ - New Astro Organization, Veteran founded with new purpose in life

Outreach Clubs Observing Star Party
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#1 Bullwinkles

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Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:43 AM

I'll try to make this as short as I can.

Astronomy changed my life. After being severely injured in the military and medically retired, I became dependent than unknowingly addicted to my painkillers. 6 years later, a divorce, loss of family, loss of home and repo of vehicles due to unability to work, I became homeless, and for 2 years I roamed Tucson, hiding in my bush near Safeway, trying to survive the heat of the day and cold of night. Meanwhile, an AirForce woman in Colorado was hit by a delivery truck and needed brain surgery, leading to seazires and 7 months stuck in bed. Her husband abused her, she gained 120 pounds, became severely depressed and began to drink. She quickly was medically retired as well, was forced to Tucson and left her abusive ex, choosing to change her life and go to physical therapy and rehab. I was found passed out on the road mid day from heatstroke, and was taken to the hospital. When I awoke, I asked to get help, begged for assistance and asked for a referral to rehab. Luckily, it was a VA hospital and they had a full substance use program. 3 months into classes, eating normally, learning all I could and actually happy for the first time in years, I walked into class and met the woman of my dreams. She had just moved in from Colorado and left her husband. We both graduated after 6 months, dated and moved in together. But, after getting clean from 6 years of substance numbing use, I had no idea who I was. I had no ambitions, no purpose and no motivation. I became depressed.
One day, I bought a Walmart Telescope. I know, bad move. I didnt know any better. That night, I saw Jupiter, Saturn, and for 3 hours I was so happy, focusing, tracking, struggling to image with the cell, and I came inside with a huge smile. I had no ptsd symptoms, I had no anxiety, stress or worry about anything. I had just found out how to calm myself and distract from life's stressors outside in the amplified silence of the darkness. This was the moment that I knew I wanted to share this feeling with the world, especially any other veterans or civilians that were struggling with mental health issues. 4 days later I bought a used Orion 8 inch dob I brought it to the Safeway where I used to sleep behind, setting it up for anyone to come look. Being on the east side of Tucson and no current astronomy clubs in the area, this became a huge hit and we quickly formed a club. At the time my girlfriend and I were volunteering at local nonprofits helping veterans and the homeless, as we knew what they were going through. After about a year of being on the board of directors, we decided to resign in get to work building our own nonprofit. This wouldn't be any normal non-profit though. This would be a nonprofit that combines charity work with stargazing and stem to uplift and inspire the community through difficult times.

That's when Reach for the Stars was born. Our little astro-charity has changed my life. Today, we have reached the 1.5 year mark of being open. We have fed over 90,000 meals to local families in need, passed out over 200 backpacks filled with essential items to homeless people, and have hosted 34 astronomy day/nightime events.

We have grown our events to nearly having 200 people per month attend, and we really need help with some equipment. If you know of anyone who has any spare items, books, solar scope, lights, batteries or a camera that they don't need, we would be honored to receive them.
If you know anyone who needs food basic necessities homeless essentials or if you know any family with a child who is very interested in astronomy please let us know! We donate a telescope to a interested child every month as long as we have the required donations to do so.
I invite anyone to come to an event if you're in Tucson or around the area and enjoy some fun activities, friendly companionship, and a new look on how astronomy can change the world.

We are also driving around town with our Outreach rig holding mini events for homeless people in parks, as well as doing boy and girl scout events private events telescope rentals and free classes, lessons and advice. All four programs are completely free. The only thing we charge for is the private events for any businesses or birthday parties. We've put so much effort into our presentations that we have to be able to make some money for maintenance and for the food program.
I'm also looking for volunteers to help man telescopes or speak and inspire people in person and online! We'd love this community and the astronomy world so much, and my fiance and I will forever be grateful to each and every one of you who give your time for outreach. We have a mission my friends. If there's anything I can do to help yours, send me a message via the website below!
There's so much more to say but this is long enough for now. Just fyi, our current goal is to move the nonprofit out of our home to a building that we can't afford. Know of one? We could use the advice. Our home is stuffed and we can't have any volunteers over to help with the programs. Wish us luck!
Our motto: Exploring the universe to inspire those in it.
Lastly, we aren't anyone's competition. We want to advocate for all clubs and groups, as astronomy is for everyone. Sadley, there is a local club that sees our tiny charity as a threat and is shutting us out. It's truley sad. We hope their feeds go away and maybe one day we can work together to inspire more people❤️ I'm always available to talk and chat about any of the above topics. Clear skies everyone, thanks for hearing me out and learning about our new charity.
Have a wonderful 2021 holiday my friends!
Sincerely,

www.rftstars.com
  • Ptarmigan, paul, RTLR 12 and 6 others like this

#2 paul

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Posted 29 November 2021 - 10:21 PM

Thanks for sharing this is a great story!!


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#3 Bullwinkles

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Posted 04 April 2022 - 11:56 PM

Our Nonprofit has grown significantly, and we've transitioned to using astronomy to have a positive impact on mental health and well being, especially in youth and teens who feel depressed, anxious or suicidal.If you have suggestions and would like to help send me a PM.
Thanks!
www.rftstars.com




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