January 9, 2016
Dear Sun Dragon students, family members, and supporters:
Happy New Year! 2015 was an exciting year for Sun Dragon. We grew enrollment in the karate program to over 100 students, which was a big milestone! We currently have 120 students, about half of whom are in the Youth program. We held the largest Youth Shodan test in Sun Dragon’s history in May, awarding seven black belts to our dedicated young students. This is in addition to the two adults who earned black belts, and Sun Dragon’s first ever Youth Nidan.
Another goal from 2015 was the expansion of Sun Dragon’s violence prevention programs. We were fortunate to have Carmel Drewes leading this project. Thanks to her efforts, and those of many volunteer teachers, Sun Dragon taught 176 hours of workshops in 2015, reaching 727 adults and 162 children. Carmel also led an intensive volunteer training course, ensuring that we have a pool of self-defense instructors for future growth.
In 2015, Sun Dragon’s total income was $136,712. Our biggest fundraiser, the annual Kickathon, raised a record $21,365! Tuition for the karate programs makes up 72% of our income, with additional money from individual donations, violence prevention workshops and uniform and equipment sales. Our largest expenses are rent and salary for two staff members.
Our fundraising allows us to increase our outreach and reach a larger community with our mission of non-violent empowerment. Each year, we provide free and low-cost violence prevention workshops, as well as discounted karate tuition to anyone who needs it. In 2015, we gave approximately $8000 in tuition assistance to students who applied for scholarships. Going forward, we plan to increase the number of free workshops we can offer to other non-profits.
Our ongoing goal of growing Sun Dragon includes increasing enrollment, partnering with new groups to teach self defense, and offering leadership opportunities within our own community.
We have many dedicated teachers and volunteers who work tirelessly to make Sun Dragon the wonderful place it is. Special thanks go to our board of directors: Chair Wil Mouradian, Secretary Summer Cacciotti, and Michelle Oglesby, who oversee the fulfillment of Sun Dragon’s mission. Please consider offering your expertise as a volunteer or member of the board of directors.
I am very pleased to announce that Laura Hayden has joined the Sun Dragon staff as our new Program Director. You know her as a teacher, photographer, and calendar-creator; please help me welcome her to her new position.
With new state-wide laws in effect at the beginning of this year, businesses and organizations like our have been making decisions about whether to allow open carry of weapons on their premises. This gave me, along with our board of directors, an opportunity to evaluate our entire safety policy. I’ve made the decision that no weapons of any kind are allowed in our dojo. This is, in fact, a continuation of our previous policy, and indeed of age-old martial arts traditions. We enter the dojo with empty hands, mindful of that our training has a goal of non-violence. Our goal is to provide everyone a fun and safe place for learning and growth.
As we move in to the new year, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on your progress in the last year. Did you earn a new belt? Begin training? Challenge yourself to do something you didn’t know was possible? Are you ready for a new project? One to consider is attending Go-En, Seido’s 40th anniversary celebration. Seido students from all over the world will gather in early June in New York to train together and participate in the living history of our art, and you are invited to join the festivities.
Whether or not you are able to make the journey to New York, I hope you will take part in some or all of the many special events we have at the dojo, and in our larger community. Sun Dragon participates in a variety of walks, food drives, and volunteer events as part of our mission to support peace and justice projects. One simple way to get involved is to help us connect to other organizations. Would you workplace host a violence prevention class? Are you part of another non-profit that could use a gift certificate for their silent auction fundraiser? Please let us know if you’d like to help with a project, or know a worthy cause we can help support.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for being a part of Sun Dragon. I wish you the very best in your training, and your life, in 2016.