I sit here on this Saturday evening, excited and ready to launch the Close to Home Marketplace this coming week. This project is one that started for me back in 2011. It’s been a really interesting learning journey – one that I’ve taken with numerous friends, both old and new. The news cycles of the continuing and seemingly ever-present disasters – both national and international – have kept us on our task. We’ve been thinking about new ways, better ways to help and house people post-disaster.

Sharing ideas, visions – collaboration – has been a huge part of the journey to this point. We would not be at the point of having our marketplace website ready to be launched without the help of so many.

Thanks to Close to Home (Housing) team members Jennifer Williams & Jim Burton. Jennifer’s skills behind the scenes have kept me going personally and professionally. Web Designer Anne Fogarty @ Ten Speed Design with Emmanuel Garcia behind the stage – thank you– we’re finally ready! Anne, your expertise goes so deep – way beyond “just” web design – we’ve been lucky to have you on board! The c2hh Advisory Board has helped us keep on track and understand where we need to go. We’ve had the support of Professors/Students/& Alumni at Bainbridge Graduate Institute (Pinchot), our amazing Cohort in “Kick”, support of all things “Fledge”, Seattle Venture Partners “Fast Pitch” and the numerous mentors and friends who helped us through those programs. Lots of learning has taken place along the way. Last but absolutely not least – thank you to the Vendors participating in our marketplace. We believe that good things are to come and appreciate your communication and faith in our vision.

Additionally, in the spirit of further understanding the impact of a disaster – on so many levels – and the rebuilding that is required afterwards, we have spent time in Greensburg, Kansas with the generous Mayor Dixson, Tourism Director Stacy Barnes and members of Greensburg GreenTown – headed by Daniel Wallach, in addition to other members of the community. In Washington, Illinois we were welcomed by Mayor Manier, others at City Hall as well as generous members of the business community.  They have all been supportive of our vision at Close to Home – even in the midst of their busy days.

We are hardly where we want to be – just on the precipice of making some positive change, we hope. But here we have the beginnings of our marketplace – a space where we can bring the innovations of creative minds to the fore – where they need to be in order to be seen/understood/appreciated and purchased by/for people who need housing post-disaster. We hope that this “space” can be one where innovation is furthered and where the spirit of collaboration continues. We understand that we’ve got a “big hairy audacious goal” in front of us.

In the end our name really captures in a nutshell where our motivation comes from. It’s our community that rallies around us after tragedy – and we must remain within, surrounded by that community if we really hope to heal – remaining as close to home as possible during challenging times. We hope that this marketplace will play an integral role in helping to shift the paradigm of how we house people post-disaster here in the United States.

Rachel Stamm, Founder & CEO