I remember the first lock picking meeting that sq33k invited me to at her small apartment in downtown Raleigh in 2010. It was there on her thrift store coffee table that we busted open a small shoebox of locks donated from Deviant Ollam at The Open Organisation of Lockpickers (TOOOL). I met her boyfriend Cyrus (who is now her husband and father of their children) and bonded over a beer from Geneseo brewing in NY. We continued to meet occasionally for the next few years, expanding our circle to a handful or two of people that would meet us at Raleigh Brewing or another local brewery. I started an email list eventually to coordinate meetings, and had maybe 50 people on it at its peak.
Fast forward to today, and our Meetup has over 300 members, and that small shoebox has grown to a couple of large rolling tool boxes, a couple of shelves in my shed, and a dedicated table in my home office. Our Meetup costs, website hosting, and domain registration have been self-funded by my side job performing physical security assessments for Stern Security. We've slowly expanded our lock inventory through my contributions, a GoFundMe we held a few years ago, and occasional lock donations from members. We're now at the point where we can sell picking kits, locks, shirts, etc., but without the proper tax status this gets complicated. We'd also like to be able to accept both monetary and equipment donations (for the club and potentially discounted resale) while providing some tax benefits to our donors. All of these factors influenced me to reorganize Oak City Locksport as a nonprofit.
We applied for our NC nonprofit status on 2/20/23 and received it on 2/24/23. I'm happy to say that we applied for our 501(c)(3) status today on St. Patrick's Day (3/17/23). Hopefully our application will be processed smoothly and we'll be 100% official in a month or two. Our Founding Directors and Board include myself, Jeremy Thomas, and Tom Crouse. I believe in transparency, and as a public educational nonprofit we are here to serve the community. If at any point you would like to learn more about our organizational bylaws, finances, etc. please reach out to me at patrick [at] oakcitylocksport.com.
I'd like to thank Jeremy and Tom for joining me on this journey as Directors, our members who have volunteered and participated at our events, and those in the community who have supported us over the years with their time, talent, and treasure. Most of all, I want to thank sq33k for trusting me to grow this community that she gave birth to so many years ago.