The Bodie Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that helps Bodie, California. As a California State Park, Bodie just doesn’t get enough financial support to properly and effectively keep this historical gem in tact. Over the past 20 years State funding has drastically declined and the need for donations has become a requirement just to keep the park open.
Several times in recent years Bodie has been on the ‘closure list’ – a list of State Parks that would be temporarily shuttered in an effort to reduce costs and save money. These are always listed as ‘temporary’ closures, we’ll never know if some will become permanent. While Bodie may not be the most out-of-the-way park and may not be the biggest park, it truly is one of the most amazing parks in all of California… and the hundreds of thousands of people who visit there every year will swear to that!
If Bodie was to be closed, even temporarily, the danger to the town increases dramatically. A Bodie closure could mean that only one Park Ranger visit Bodie a few times a week. It could mean that they visit only once a week while blockading roads that lead to the town. It could mean that just one caretaker lives there, except for when they go to town for supplies or days off. If Bodie has NO ONE there, imagine the theft, vandalism and (heaven forbid) fire threat that could haunt Bodie?! Bodie NEEDS to be protected.
The Bodie Foundation is not much different than any other non-profit; they ask for donations, they raise funds through different channels, they work with their beneficiary to support their overall mission. Sure, they aren’t curing cancer or fighting domestic abuse, but they are helping to preserve a unique time in history – not just California history, but history of the United States. There was more there than just gold – there were people. Some reports say as many as 10,000 people in 1880. Those people brought life to Bodie. There were men and women. There were children and families. There were indians, chinese, mexican, german – probably every race, color, religion and creed were in Bodie at some time during its boom days.
Preserving that history is important. Preserving Bodie is important. That won’t happen at the hands of the State. It’s up to individuals and groups that care. Some individuals will give money, while others will volunteer their time, passion and connections. Connections is where this idea comes in…
Asking people to donate $25 or $100 or to buy a book or trinket or two when they come to visit the park is great, but that money is harder and harder to come by and it doesn’t make a dent in what’s really needed to keep Bodie around for future generations. Large donations and endowments is how Bodie will survive another 130+ years. People with the right connections can help get big money into the non-profit – and in turn, to Bodie.
There’s a lot of money out there. There’s A LOT of large, successful corporations and a lot of very wealthy individuals who would be happy to give large, tax-deductible donations to Bodie – if they were only asked. Sure, they’re asked for donations all the time by various groups representing many great causes – but people like Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Kevin Costner, the band U2, or companies like Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, Johnson & Johnson, Union Pacific, Edison International and dozens of others like giving to causes that they feel a connection with – for some, Bodie – as an idea – is enough of a connection.
One this is for certain, successful non-profits don’t operate on book store sales and memberships. Successful not-for-profit groups actively seek large donations and they do long-term financial planning.
I love Bodie. I love the history. I love that it’s been preserved. I want the best for the Park and I’d love to help organize something big that will keep it safe for decades to come. If you know people like the ones listed above, or if you work for a corporation who wants to support a true piece of history, let me know – I’m here to help.
If you haven’t been to Bodie – GO! Plan your trip! See it before it’s closed or before some other awful disaster befalls it and it become another piece of history lost to the ages.