Dear Friends and Supporters of Civilian Exposure,
Just over a year ago, I began to piece together the puzzle regarding the link between contamination at Camp Lejeune and my father’s death from acute leukemia in 2008. As a result, I began a journey and a mission to make a difference. Admittedly, I did not know where this effort would lead or what kind of support would come. Regardless, led by the conviction to do the right thing for others, Civilian Exposure was launched in late 2013.
Over the past several months, I began to gather research and seek out a few trusted mentors that could offer advice. I also sought out others working on this issue. As a result, I was honored to be nominated and subsequently selected to join the CDC/ATSDR Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel.
With access to the very people and agencies that are on-point with this issue, I found that there was plenty of information that must be shared with the public. It was time to get busy building awareness in every way possible.
From the beginning, I’ve realized that the right foundation must be built in order to adequately serve the mission and those exposed. To do otherwise would be a disservice. After building out the website, growing a robust social media presence and engaging in frequent media outreach, Civilian Exposure started to gain traction. In September, Civilian Exposure finally gained the attention of the Jacksonville Daily News, Military.com, and Stars and Stripes. People began to step forward to volunteer or partner. The past two months have been exciting.
This, however, is just one key ingredient. I knew that another key to achieving the mission would be the ability to raise funding. Therefore, I set out to secure non-profit status for Civilian Exposure from the IRS earlier this fall. Extensive media outreach, marketing and other activities necessary to build massive awareness requires substantial monetary investment. In addition, I would like to create future college scholarships for children of civilian DOD workers impacted by contamination on bases across this country.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the strides made in less than a year. There is one achievement, however, of which I am particularly proud. On Monday, I received the following notification from the IRS:
I am excited to announce that the IRS has officially granted 501(c)(3) exemption to Civilian Exposure.
Gaining this key status and recognition opens the door to grants, sponsorships, partnerships and the kinds of funds necessary to meet our ambitious goals. With this recognition, Civilian Exposure is now a legally recognized charitable organization poised to move forward full-steam ahead in 2015. There’s much work to be done.
If you or a person you know wishes to contribute, or the company you work with is interested in sponsoring or partnering with Civilian Exposure, we would love to hear from you. Your tax-deductible donations and funding could make a significant difference in the lives of those affected by contamination at U.S. military bases.
Contact Civilian Exposure today to donate.
We welcome your support!
Gavin P. Smith
Founder/Executive Director – Civilian Exposure