A self-funding non-profit that will guide homeless U.S. Military Veterans to re-enter society.
A person’s passions are what make them interesting, and it helps to define us as people! I have always had at least two strong passions: cars and films. I own several cars that I consider the greatest cars I could have possibly driven: a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Convertible, a 1976 Chevrolet Monza 2+2, and a 1990 Jeep YJ Wrangler. My cars mean a great deal to me, because my father had something to do with my ownership of all of them, may he rest is peace.
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where seven-out-of-ten families in my neighborhood worked in some way in the automobile industry. My father was a very passionate car aficionado, designer, engineer, and executive in the industry, and he passed his love of cars onto me at an early age. At the age of fifteen, my passion for cars prompted me to rebuild my first car: a 1975 Chevrolet Monza 2+2 that had been given to me by my father to fix. This laid the foundation for me as a man who loves to see metal hulks with no hope of revival turned into mechanical works of art.
I also have movies! My love of movies knows no bounds! Every movie I watch thrills me – even the bad ones – and makes me feel like going out and making one for myself. I found myself interested in films at an early age. Inexperienced in the craft of film-making, I left suburban Detroit at the age of twenty, for Hollywood, California to get an education. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema from Columbia College – Hollywood, I worked on several feature productions with increasing workload. I also had a chance to learn about high-end production, and post-production through a series of jobs in and around the studio system. Then, through a chance encounter with a new technology and high-end computer software (MTI’s DRS), I was taken to the position of high end film restoration artist for eight years – studios came to me to fix their damaged movies; film restoration is another side of my movie passion!
Another, more recent passion has become my gratitude for, and the well-being of the men and women (our Veterans) who’ve placed themselves in harm’s way to keep the Good Ole U-S-of-A free!
Several years ago, I began with a germ of an idea to help them after watching a news segment about our fighting men and women living on the streets – sometimes with their spouse and kids – unable to make the jump into a suitable life for them all. There’s no reason that our veterans and their families should have to endure such disgrace!
Unfortunately, I’ve seen too much of the sadder side of all the above-mentioned of my passions: sleazy film distributors, agents and producers who use their positions to take advantage of anyone they can; classic cars left to molder in some field, or shed, until there’s no glamour left in their classic designs; and soldiers… homeless, starving and forgotten by the very people who they defended. I see these kinds of neglect every day, and it makes me very sad… sometimes angry!
The visions I’ve had about rotting cars, and forgotten soldiers have haunted me for years… I just couldn’t think of any way to do anything about them…! Now, these three passions of mine have given me a way to combine all three of them into a single package, with fulfilling, and hopefully resounding results: the WHEELED PHOENIX’ INC. project. The concept I’ve devised is to buy old and moldering cars and restore them into modern daily drivers; colloquially known as resto-mods. The cars will then be raffled off nationally, by a Nonprofit, and the donations received from ticket sales will go toward giving Homeless Veterans, all over the nation, a chance to re-enter society, along with their spouse(s) and children. Now, Wheeled Phoenix’, Inc will be the operating company for the Nonprofit, Veteran Phoenix’, LLLP, and will produce two television shows to help our nation’s Veterans; one that will feature the car’s rebuild, and the other will feature the rebuilding of a soldier’s life. These shows will bring to the forefront the problems that Veterans face in a world after their hitch in the military; and the saddening state of classic American-made steel from years past.
This proposal is intended to get you interested helping me by funding an idea to help guide American Homeless Veterans. I have done the best I can to state the facts, and show them in a positive light. I believe this is a very viable project; this concept will show a great potential for not only the humanitarian aspect of the idea – which grabs me by the heart, but also a great way in which to continue the efforts of the Nonprofit without having to rely solely on donations. I know that we can help those Veterans who have not only given up on themselves, but us as a nation. Maybe we can restore some of that trust.
Read on to see if you can see what I see.
Ronald Gulette, COO, Reggie Newton Associates, LLC
THE NONPROFIT COMPANY
PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE NONPROFIT COMPANY:
VETERAN PHOENIX’, LLLP (herein after referred to as “the Nonprofit”) will be a nonprofit organization established for the purpose and scope herein set forth. Veteran Phoenix’, LLLP, will be a State of South Dakota, USA Limited Liability Limited Partnership (currently, not set up) and will function as the vanguard arm to guide homeless Veterans who wish to re-enter society. As the name suggests, this organization, located in Superior, Montana, will provide critical assistance to homeless United States Armed Forces Veterans (Marine Corp, Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard, and all the Reserves), and their families, and will help restore the honor that they once had as a soldier.
Founded by Ronald Gulette who is driven by a passion to help American Veterans. Ronald will not be putting any money into the project, except what he has already put into it, but more along the lines of sweat-equity: rebuilding the first car by himself; acting as the first Coordinator for the first Veteran’s transformation; and his years of experience of running a small business. The operations going forward will largely depend on donations, or investment capital, from individuals and groups who also feel the same passion for our Veterans. Monies realized will be fully channeled into all the projects we will be conducting.
The monies collected by the Nonprofit, will be divvied up and used to find homeless veteran(s) a place to live, clothing, and a good-paying job. The budget for each Veteran’s make-over has been assessed to cost approximately $15,000 (U.S.). Veteran Phoenix’, LLLP will put in place several marketing measures aimed at spreading the word about our project(s), we will not directly solicit funding from donor groups and individuals, but will gladly accept donations given to help the Veterans. Instead, marketing will be used to get people interested in the raffle of the rebuilt car, and sale of the two shows to help us achieve our goals.
The Vision of Veteran Phoenix’, LLLP is to provide critical services essential to the progress of U.S. Veterans. Our nonprofit aims at contributing significantly in alleviating the most prevalent societal problems being endured by our homeless Veterans (currently estimated at 39,000 across the United States), leading to a safer and better America. Our Veterans have put themselves in harm’s way so that the rest of us can continue living the safe and free lives we’re used to, we owe them for their courage, and getting them off the street is the best way to thank them in a substantial way.
The mission of reaching out to the forgotten homeless Veterans, and setting them up with all the necessities that a lot of Americans take for granted: house, job, skills to make a home, etc. To achieve this objective, total commitment to the ideals of more proud and prosperous U.S. Veterans is necessary. This is not so much a handout, as it is a hand up; we’ll maintain control of the money as we train, and guide servicemen and servicewomen toward a new life. This is what will drive the nonprofit. The Nonprofit, of course, has plans of spreading our scope across the United States within the shortest possible time: 3 years from commencement of operations.
A Coordinator will be assigned by the Nonprofit to walk him/her (the use of the male pronouns “him”, “he, “his” in this description is not indicative of gender bias, but simply a device to make this information less confusing) through the process of getting reacquainted with societal standards and teachings. Simple things, like moving into a new home, which will include interviews with his new landlord. Learning personal hygiene will also be taught, in case the Veteran’s time on the streets has made him indifferent about this cleanliness. He will be made-over with a haircut, and new clothes which will be required for him to make the return to society. The Coordinator will take him into grocery stores and teach him to buy food, as well as teaching him how to cook it. The Veteran will be taken to a Doctor’s office to get a physical, and any medications he may need. Working with the Veteran, the Coordinator will take him to a used furniture store and pick up simple items to make the apartment/house a home. The Coordinator will also set up interviews with potential employers, and advise him on how to be successful at getting the job.
If the Veteran is married, whether he has kids or not, the same will be done to help the spouse and kids. The couple will be helped to enroll their kids in the local school, and meet their teacher(s) for the first time. The spouse will also be given an opportunity to find work, and go on interviews. They will be given an opportunity to get a donated car from the Nonprofit (if one’s available), and will be advised on renewing their driver’s licenses, and any other requirements to keep moving forward with their new lives.
Once the coordinator has given the Veteran everything he needs to move forward with his life, then he’ll be left to his own recognizance. Every two months, the Coordinator will go check on the Veteran to see how he is doing. If things are going well, then he’ll be left alone again for four months, then checked in on again. If things are not going well, then the Coordinator will do whatever needs to be done to help the Veteran get back on track.
The Nonprofit’s scope is targeted at significantly alleviating the negative and harmful effects of life on the streets for our former servicemen and servicewomen. Plans of further expanding our services to cover the entire United States within the first 3 years from the date of commencing operations, are the hope for the future. However, at present, our services will be available in Montana.
Our marketing plan will cover a wide range of areas. The marketing plan is targeted at spreading word about our project(s) (See also the Marketing Plan on Page 10). There may be several other similar nonprofit organizations doing the same kind of work, but ours will be unique in it’s execution. We do not, however, see them as competitors, but as collaborators; currently there are approximately 39,000 homeless Vets barely surviving in the U.S.A. Hence, the Nonprofit’s activities will be tailored to take advantage of the leverage offered by these other nonprofits. As a measure to enhance our presence nationally we will have a website that will showcase all of the projects and information about us.
To make our services much more effective, micro stations will be spread across cities in the United States. These will be patterned to act on our behalf to help homeless Veterans in those areas. Also, we will collaborate with national agencies to function effectively whenever there are humanitarian challenges. Electronic and print media channels will be used to spread word about our projects. This is in addition to the use of social media space.
Although we will kick-start the Nonprofit’s operations with whatever sum we will receive from donors and investors, a reasonable part of this will also be put into marketing. This nonprofit will not be 100% reliant on the assistance of donor groups and individuals (See “The C Corporation”, below); through this, we intend to raise significant funding for our nonprofit. Using the current trends and available information on cash flow of non-profits, we have come up with a modest 3 year financial projection. This is summarized below;
Year One: $120,000
Year Two: $300,000
Year Three: $500,000
However, with the addition of the car raffle, and the production of the two shows, these numbers could become far more impressive. The Nonprofit will try very hard to market the raffle, and the TV shows so that this Nonprofit won’t have to rely only on the kindness of donors, alone. We may, from time to time, utilize social media platforms and crowd-funding sites to achieve our financial goals and continue to get the word out about our project(s).
Veteran Phoenix’, LLLP will be required to file with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit company. Below is the definition of what that designation entails, as it will be used in this project:
- A501(c) organization is a Nonprofit organization in the federal law of the United States according to 26 U.S.C. § 501 and is one of 29 types of Nonprofit organizations exempt from some federal income taxes. Many states refer to Section 501(c) for definitions of organizations exempt from state taxation as well. 501(c)(3) tax-exemptions apply to entities that are organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for testing for public safety, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Raffles fall under state control. Nonprofits must file with each and every state they operate in that allows for non-profit raffling off of items for donations. Each state makes up the rules that non-profit’s have to abide by – currently, forty-five U.S. states allow raffles. Though we will have most of our patrons use the website to buy their tickets for the raffle, not all states allow online ticket purchases, so the site will abide by certain state’s laws, and either block citizens of that state from entering, or offer the patrons what the law allows. A lawyer with knowledge about nonprofit/raffle legal matters will have to be contacted.
The Nonprofit will act like any Nonprofit organization, and will accept donations from any source – mostly public; we will also look into state and federal grants. Donations of money, clothes, food, computers, cell phones, and potential jobs for Veterans will be received gladly, and receipts for such kindness will be offered for any tax-related deductions for the individual, group, or company. Any major gift donations (currently assessed at $50,000, or more) of the merchandise category (vehicles, furniture, antiques, jewelry, art, miscellaneous equipment and/or property) will be auctioned, or possibly raffled off, for the cash equivalent of value.
THE C CORPORATION:
FORMATION OF THE OPERATING CORPORATION:
WHEELED PHOENIX’, INC, a State of South Dakota, USA C Corporation (herein after referred to as “the Partnership”; currently, not set up) will be created for the purpose and scope herein set forth. Wheeled Phoenix’, Inc. will function as the head office for the Nonprofit, and the production company for two reality-based shows; which will only be financed by selling the shows to a satellite network, and not through any donations received by the Nonprofit.
Of course, the Partnership will only be funded when there are considerable revenues provided by the profits of the sale of the shows to a network(s).
PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE C CORPORATION:
The purpose of the C Corporation will consist of running the day-to-day operations of the Nonprofit company which will include: hiring, and paying, of the staff for both companies; purchasing vehicles to be restored; transfer of vehicle’s title to the Nonprofit; hiring the talent that will restore the vehicles; creation of a weekly automotive television series called: “The Wheeled Phoenix” (in the vein of Chip Foose’ “Overhaulin’”); and a weekly reality documentary series called: “The Veteran Phoenix” (in the vein of “Intervention”), including the production, licensing, sales and distribution related to TV/satellite markets including: streaming, video and other ancillary markets for the production of profit, of which sixty percent (60%), of proceeds will go to the Nonprofit to keep operations moving forward, and possibly expanding them.
For the first project, there will only be two employees: Ron Gulette will work on the rebuild of the project vehicle and coordinate the homeless Veteran’s transformation; while the second records the entire job for the show (currently online producer/director David Preston is being considered). Ron will also ask for volunteer help from the Superior Car Club (Superior, Montana) to work on the rebuild.
Future employees of the companies will be paid through the Partnership and not by the Nonprofit. The income generated by the two television shows will pay all the expenses required to run the two companies (Wheeled Phoenix’, Inc., and Veteran Phoenix, LLLP (Nonprofit)). The Partnership will hire it’s employees based on their skills, and dedication to their jobs, as provided by them during the interview process. U.S. Veterans will be considered at all times for positions based on their skills, especially as Coordinators.
THE BUSINESS OF AUTOMOTIVE RESTORATION
Once the Project has been financed, Ronald Gulette will begin the whole process with the rebuilding (resto-mod) of a single truck; a 1971 AMC Jeep Wagoneer (already purchased).
This rig will be completely dismantled – body off the frame and restored. Ron Gulette will make a list of what parts will be used in the rebuild and will do drawings of the various design elements, like the exterior color(s), flourishes and pinstripes, and interior color(s), materials and patterns. The body and frame will then be steamed and media-blasted to remove all grease and paint. The frame will then undergo modification (if necessary) for the new drive-train, then painted, or possibly powder-coated, before the new suspension parts will be installed. The body will be repaired of all rust, and damage before being sent to paint. All original chrome parts will be cleaned, fixed of dents and imperfections and sent for re-chroming (to a third-party vendor).
Other modifications to the Wagoneer may include:
- Fuel Injection*
- Fuel-efficient V8/V6/L6 Engine*
- Aluminum Radiator*
- Windshield Wipers w/Delay Feature*
- Backup Camera
- Updated Seat Belts*
- Four Wheel Disk Brakes*
- Stainless Steel Exhaust*
- Michelin, Dunlop or Coker Tires*
- Stainless Steel Brake Lines*
- LED Lights (bulbs)*
- Halogen Headlights*
- Urethane Body Bushings
- Power Rack and Pinion Steering*
- Modern Stereo and Speakers*
- Full-Grain Leather Interior
- Key-less Alarm*
- Power Braking System*
- Four-Speed OD Automatic Transmission*, or
- Five-Speed Manual Transmission
- Optima Battery(s)* (dual battery setup)
- Hydraulic Clutch
- Electronic Gauges*
- Bronze Frame Bushings (Convertible)
- Suspension Upgrade
- Air Conditioning*
- Cruise Control*
- Spare Tire and Jack*
- Under-hood Fuse and Relay Box*
- Electric Fan*
* High on the list of necessary modifications
All the major automotive aftermarket manufacturers and distributors will be contacted prior to the start of the restoration to see if they would be willing to donate parts to the cause. If donations aren’t available, then discounted prices will be requested, but when all else fails, the parts will be bought outright for the lowest prices from a third-party vendor.
Each build will take place in a four-week period – except for possibly the first few. This is an extremely short amount of time to rebuild a car, but the idea is to do one car every month. Since the shop isn’t working on any other cars – like a commercial body shop would – then every hour of the workday can be spent on the only car in the shop. The later episodes of Chip Foose’ “Overhaulin’” rebuilt their cars in three weeks, in opposition to their one week rebuilds in the first few seasons. This kind of schedule is easily doable as long as the logistics are in place prior to the start of the build. This first project will take additional time, but with the help of local volunteers, it could be finished in a reasonable amount of time.
While the car is being rebuilt, a camera crew will get interviews from the builders and footage of some of the more important modifications. There will be a sense of camaraderie between the builders, good humor, and attention to detail and no meaningless drama will be recorded. Any complications with the build will be added to the show, but drama will be kept to a minimum. Every week, the show about the current work being done will be aired so that the word can get out there about the car and the viewers can purchase tickets for the raffle.
The raffle will take place only after 110% of the cost of the build is covered (parts and supplies, builder’s salaries for one month, camera crew’s salaries for one month, staff salaries for one month, utilities, and general expenses), plus an amount of around $15,000 that would allow for the intervention of at least one Veteran and his Family. This may be difficult for the first year of the project, but it shouldn’t take long to get the word out to the public. Though this is meant mainly for the citizens of the United States, peoples from other countries would still be able to win if they paid for their chance to win.
It is suspected – upon the success of the project – that from time-to-time custom car designers from all over the world, like: Chip Foose, Danny “The Count” Koker, Dave Kindig and Rick Dore (for example) may wish to get in on the fun of designing a Wheeled Phoenix to be raffled off. It would be the policy of the Partnership to welcome such celebrities with open arms, and let them do their best to create a special car to help the cause. Such talents would never be turned away.
WHO GETS TO KEEP THE CAR?
The ideal here is to “give” the car to an “average Joe”, a working-class American; not someone who can afford to build their own custom car – as by auction. The Winner of the restored car will be someone who has purchased the raffle ticket(s) from the Nonprofit’s website (whether they’re wealthy or not), where they will receive a receipt for their donation – possibly a tax break for them; the receipt will have a unique randomly-generated number that will go into a database that will store those numbers for use in the raffle. At the end of the “month” (if there’re enough donations to cover expenses and allow for at least one veteran to be helped) then a number will be drawn from the valid receipt numbers, and the process of contacting the ticket owner will begin.
The process of delivering the car to the new owner will be videotaped, and added to the next episode of the show. Hopefully, the new Owner can be flown to Montana, and then given his car in a ceremony at the corporate offices; he will then drive the vehicle back to his state with all the paperwork needed to register and license the vehicle in his state.
All revenues from the sale of the shows to a network(s) will be split with the non-profit on a 60/25/15 basis (sixty percent (60%) to Veteran Phoenix’, LLLP (Nonprofit); twenty-five percent (25%) to the Investors (if any); and fifteen percent (15%) to the Partnership). All monies received from the sale of raffle tickets will go directly to the non-profit. Any donations of cash, or items, will also go directly to the non-profit.
The Partnership will only receive working capital from the sale to a network(s) of the shows: “The Veteran Phoenix”, and “The Wheeled Phoenix”.
“THE VETERAN PHOENIX”
This show, similar to the show “Intervention” (an American documentary television series that premiered on A&E, from March 2005 until 2013, then on LMN from August, 2014), will show the process that the Nonprofit will go through to choose and help one specific Veteran who agrees to have his transformation videotaped.
Every episode will show a previous Veteran from the show and how they are doing, now. There will also be a collage of Veterans who have been helped by the Nonprofit’s efforts on every show. The length of those segments will hopefully get longer and longer. If there are any failures of the project, then a section of the show will do a reach-out to the viewers to see if that Veteran has been seen; and if found, the coordinator will do what can be done to bring the Veteran back around.
The theme of the show will be (to some degree): Will a homeless Veteran take on the responsibilities inherent with today’s society after being an outsider for so long?
“THE WHEELED PHOENIX”
Will be a Network TV/Satellite series in the vein of “Overhaulin’”, “Counting Cars”, and “Iron Resurrection,” but with the decided difference that these cars will be built as a daily driver for some lucky raffle winner. Most of the shows above build hot rods and custom show cars for clients, or they take them to be sold at auction; Overhaulin’ was based on rebuilding someone’s “pride and joy”, and giving it back to them restored as a custom show car. This show won’t be a whole lot different, but instead of a custom show car – it’s to be rebuilt to its original beauty with modern-day safety and practicality in mind; the car may be used everyday by the new owner to go to work, grocery shopping, dropping the kids off at school, and traveling on vacations without the concerns inherent with owning an older car.
The rig that has been bought for the first rebuild and show is a 1971 AMC Jeep Wagoneer, which is pictured below:
1971 AMC Jeep Wagoneer
The process used for choosing the project vehicle to be rebuilt will be novel in comparison to other shows of the same ilk: we’ll find a car, or truck, that has been left in a field, salvage yard, or even a project from someone’s garage that they just never had the time or money to work on (Craigslist is a good source); buy it, title it under the Nonprofit, then begin the process of rebuilding. The criteria for the car will be “time’s forgotten orphans” – or those cars not immediately looked for by the big custom builders: four-door sedans, convertibles, station wagons, and four-wheel-drives; mostly rarities (cars that aren’t common for rebuilds mainly due to the fact that they’re just not popular) from the time periods beginning in the mid-1920’s up until the end of the factory-made convertibles: 1976 (below are a few examples).
Each episode (four per month) will consist of a precis of the previous week’s work. They will be one hour long (approximately forty-two minutes of viewing time; advertisements generally take up the rest of the time), and will end with a teaser for the next episode, as well as some footage of the Veteran(s) that the raffle of the previous car has helped.
Throughout the show, references will be made to the raffle, and what the proceeds of the raffle will go to, plus ads for the other show (“The Veteran Phoenix”) will help allude to what the proceeds will be used for. There will also be a segment showing the new Owner (raffle winner) of the previous month’s rebuild. At the end of the show, viewers will be directed to visit the Nonprofit’s website in order to purchase the ticket(s) for their chance to win the car that was just rebuilt. The cost of raffle tickets has not yet been determined ($40 or $50 each is being considered).
DISTRIBUTION OF THE SHOWS
Domestic and international distribution by an independent television producer is usually negotiated with an established distribution company. If a satisfactory arrangement is not made, distribution may be completed by the Producer of the show; we may start with YouTube and Vimeo, as well as others. It is the intention of the Partnership to develop both alternatives. If the shows come in significantly under budget, such excess funds may, in the discretion of the Producer, be spent on distribution and marketing costs; though, this consideration has already been calculated into the budget(s).
(The above video is not me, a friend of mine, or any of my crew, but the work being done is indicative of the work we will be doing. It’s long, but fun to watch! Russell Klem is the name of of the fellow in the video)
WE CAN DO SOMETHING GREAT FOR OUR HOMELESS VETERANS, LET’S DO IT!