Dear JPFO Members and Supporters,
Even before the passing of founder, Aaron Zelman, there was serious doubt as to whether or not JPFO could survive. For years Aaron struggled heroically with chronic health problems.
The results were rapidly expanding problems in administrative, database and member support and new product operations, along with no systematic fundraising program — to name just a few. Aaron delegated painfully little… But considering it all, what he accomplished goes well beyond the heroic to near miracles.
The regular staff was reduced to a devoted office manager of some 15-years, LaVonne, an equally devoted webmaster, Chris and Aaron’s two Board members, Bruce and Bob serving with him since the mid-1990s. The effort to rebuild JPFO began in earnest, facing the ominous headwinds of a diminished database and largely empty coffers.
After some months, Charles Heller stepped-in to provide Executive Director services; including media contacts.
One bright spot was the wise counsel of the JPFO advisor on spiritual matters, Rabbi Dovid Bendory, known affectionately as the “Gun Rabbi.”
The task was truly immense. It seemed to grow in difficulty as each step forward unearthed more challenges. Tragedy struck again a year later when our office manager, LaVonne passed away unexpectedly. She had loyally worked with Aaron for over 15-years. Her husband, Doug resigned his regular employment as her fulltime replacement. Without his commitment it is a virtual certainty JPFO would have collapsed more than a year ago.
Adding to these losses was the death of another key writer, Kirby Ferris. More recently a board member was blindsided with two major heart surgeries and is still in rehabilitation.
Then just weeks ago another key writer, the prolific 2A and science fiction author, L. Neil Smith, who worked with Aaron on various books and other major editorial projects, suffered a stroke, right in the middle of our Fall educational and fundraising product developments.
In spite of all this seemingly endless “damage control” we were able to increase the membership; and thanks to the contract writers and the webmaster, who maintain a flow of quality editorial material; while organizing first-rate office operations; including tight inventory controls with a quick turnaround of member requests.
From day one, due to the highly specialized Jewish orientation, the primary target constituency was extremely small. Fortunately, non-Jews, so taken with the powerful JPFO message, have also consistently been a vital source of revenue; while donating impressive amounts of time and talent to various projects, from 1989 to this very day.
However, all along was the paradox that as a skeletal crew of fiercely devoted workers salvaged and refined after Aaron’s passing, the Stalking Horse of poor cash flow was always there. We came to realize that JPFO needed one or more major supporters to break through to the next level.
Many inquiries yielded nil, it became clear that the most logical and efficient solution was to ally with another 2A organization, while preserving our identity.
That’s not all. We realized we must have an organization with longevity, solid management, financial depth and marketing powers to insure JPFO carried on.
The urgency of this search accelerated as the monthly revenue streams, from all sources, began a steadily decline early this year. Recent fundraising efforts have yielded little. The headquarters was reduced to being run by the managing director, with part-time secretarial help.
To solve these problems, the JPFO Board of Directors sought out and elected to merge with the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).
Founded in 1974, now with over 650,000 members, SAF is the oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the right to keep and bear arms.
JPFO will be operated independently by SAF and current JPFO private and industry members and contributors will continue to receive all benefits promised. It will maintain a separate board of directors.
The JPFO website will continue to run independently as a stand-alone entity but will now include links to it from TheGunMag.com, KeepandBearArms.com, plus SAF.org. JPFO will also become a member organization of the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) to expand its reach internationally.
Certain JPFO editorial and administrative staff are likely to remain or be available for the transition. Later, headquarters will move from Wisconsin to SAF headquarters in Bellevue, Washington.
The decision to merge with SAF has generated powerful disagreements and no small amount of vitriol… But before making final decisions on this action, please visit this page to discover what firearms industry icon, Massad Ayoob, has to say about this controversy.
Adulation of Aaron Zelman is spot on; nevertheless, it would be profoundly unfair to not tip the hat of deep gratitude to all members, donors, plus those deeply devoted volunteers that have committed well into the thousands of hours of free services since 1989, so making many of Aaron’s landmark projects possible even with the Stalking Horse of financial distress continually behind his back, as it was for us until the merger.
JPFO Board of Directors