Oasis in a storm

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:

BENSON, Arizona–Since the high-tech stock crash of
2000-2001 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, hundreds
of charities have coped with abrupt losses of income, but the ups
and downs of the Oasis Sanctuary Foundation have occurred for other
Sybil Erden in 1997 started Oasis from her home in Phoenix to
provide lifetime care to cast-off tropical birds. Also in 1997,
two strangers, Mary and Jason Sanderson, of Nashua, New Hampshire,
won a $66 million Powerball lottery. They became acquainted with
Erden in 1998.
Struggling with a cumulative deficit of almost $80,000,
Erden in 1999 moved Oasis to a 72-acre former pecan orchard beside
the San Pedro River at Cascabel, Arizona, secured on a five-year
mortgage with a pledge from the Sandersons to donate $100,000 a year
for 24 years. In January 2004, however, the Sandersons told Erden
that their pending divorce would end the payments. Oasis is now
suing them for the unpaid balance.

IRS Form 990 filings indicate that the Sandersons donated
nearly 60% of Oasis’ income in 2000-2002, but Erden told ANIMAL
PEOPLE that, “By 2003 the Sanderson’s gift had dropped to only 40%
of our income. This year, with careful refinancing and such,”
shifting to a 30-year mortgage, “we have lowered our annual
overhead significantly. With plans for increased outreach and
fundraising,” Erden declared, “we have every intention of
regrouping and recouping, although this does cut into the number of
animals we can take in and has brought several important projects to
a halt for the time being.”
The Oasis presently looks after about 450 birds. Interrupted
work includes building flight cages, perimeter fencing, an aviary
for African gray parrots, and improved worker housing.

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