In 2005, Thanks! Plain and Simple formed to do two things at once – to train enlisted veterans in managing projects and to develop projects that grow from WV communities that can be expanded and replicated to more and more places. We have learned that we needed to prioritize the work, making projects more important than training, so that when the project succeeds; there will be more structure for veterans who have been enlisted to learn to manage projects. In 2011, we changed our mission accordingly: To create and guide people to pull together to do real work that upholds and advances America’s basic principles.
The biggest and current project that “Thanks!” has developed is the Rosie the Riveter Project. It formally started on March 29, 2009, when a full-page color ad in the Charleston Gazette, brought us the first Rosies to be interviewed. That year, “Thanks!” made a pilot film and a documentary film with 31 Rosies which premiered in 2011.
Thanks! Plain and Simple, Inc. (“Thanks!”) has found more than 120 living women who worked on the home front during World War II making airplanes, ships and doing much more that shortened that terrible war and pioneered women in the workforce. We have learned tremendously, and, many Rosies say the project has made a significant difference in their lives.
Early on, it was clear that the Rosies have great abilities to both tell their stories and help make decisions about how their legacy is passed to the future. Conducting interviews alone does not educate and inspire the public; thus, in addition to conducting interviews, “Thanks!” was successful in getting Rosies and the public to work together to leave a permanent record of the valid and powerful contributions of Rosies.
At this time, 18 Rosie projects have been proven and each is repeatable in different locations. Thus, our process is considered as a model. As we guide others to “Know a Rosie and grow America’s promise,” we strive to continuously improve our process, including to find, interview and present Rosies to the public.
The examples of the projects: a Rosie-designed park, the first government building to be named the Rosie the Riveter Building, three original songs about Rosies, two bridges named the Rosie the Riveter Bridge, about 20 visits by Rosies to classrooms, art projects by students (e.g. banners), non-fiction stories about Rosies, a permanent display combining art and high-quality printing, public service announcements (PSAs) by Rosies, and planting dogwood trees, which is a species Rosies have chosen to best symbolize who they are.
We are known for accomplishing significant successes with efficient use of resources (eg. funds, time). For example, the Today Show taped us in So. Charleston, WV in 2012, we named the first government building “The Rosie the Riveter Building” in 2013, we arranged for Rosies to speak at the WWII Memorial in Washington in 2014, and our Rosies were honored by the King and Queen of the Netherlands in 2015 at Arlington Cemetery.
Every year, our in-kind donations equal at least 4 times the income, and often more. Currently, we are planning to launch the National Rosie the Riveter Movement with a full campaign very soon.