Interested in starting your own journey in a non-profit organization but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Valerie Ballard, Executive Director of Operation Tiny House, located in Dallas, TX, USA.

What's your organization, and who are your members?

Operation Tiny House is a non-profit organization that provides transitional and permanent housing, job training, and employment opportunities for Veterans currently experiencing homelessness. Together we help veterans secure housing and employment to improve their lives. We partner with volunteers, community members, and corporate sponsors to raise funds and awareness about homelessness among veterans. Operation Tiny House brings together local, state, and corporate sponsors—along with hundreds of individuals—who want to help raise funds and bring awareness to the number of homeless veterans. With support from our community partners like Santander Consumer USA Foundation, Home Depot and Home Depot Foundation, Chesmar Homes, Comerica Bank, USAA, and others, veterans will have the opportunity to live, work, and volunteer in a community together.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Valerie Ballard, Executive Director of Operation Tiny House; our parent organization is North Texas Capacity Builders, Inc. My drive for Operation Tiny House comes from my late grandmother, Joanna Webb Murria, who always took good care of the wounded veterans in our family. My father was a Paratrooper in the U.S. Army, and there are about 53 military veterans in my family. I began my journey revitalizing homes for veterans. During this time, I noticed that a lot of our veterans live in homes that are uninhabitable. We served a veteran residing in a home with only three walls! After spending a total of $175,000 to repair one veteran's home, we realized the cost to help one veteran could've been used to help multiple! This was when we switched from revitalizing homes to building brand-new tiny homes for veterans. Studies show that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Some contributing factors include isolation, lack of purpose, and homelessness. Our veterans' communities will directly address these issues.

What's your biggest accomplishment as an organization?

My biggest accomplishment would be acquiring 11.4 acres of land to build a community for veterans and veteran families. We have one transitional veterans camp, another planned for Johnson County, and donated land waiting to be developed. Joanna's Veterans Camp received over $150,000 in sponsorships and renovation projects from sponsors and organizations. U&I Spreading the Light is the host site where we currently use tiny houses for Tiny Dining Experience to raise funds and provide employment opportunities for veterans.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an organization?

Some of the hardest things that come with running your own non-profit are being responsible for everything that could go wrong, managing people, and separating my responsibility to the business of helping veterans and my desire to help everyone in need.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?

  1. Select one business at a time.
  2. Try not to be everything to everybody.
  3. Pray about your business ideas and listen to God's direction for your purpose in life.

Where can people find you and your group?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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