AOD was incorporated January 17, 2012 as a non-profit charitable organization in Huntsville, Alabama to help low-income families and fight generational poverty.
AOD’s mission was inspired by the struggles of a low-income family that Gary Mathis (AOD’s founder) and his family got to know when they lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The husband/father (Chris) and his family had recently moved to Cedar Rapids from Chicago after their public assistance benefits there expired. Chris had started a brick mason training program at Kirkwood Community College and was having trouble with fractions. Chris asked the principal of his daughter’s elementary school if someone could tutor him in fractions. The principal connected him with Gary’s wife, LaDonna who was volunteer tutoring kids in math. Through that connection, the two families got to know each other. Gary admired Chris for working toward self-sufficiency and came to understand some of the struggles of a low-income family.
When Gary and his family retired from the Air Force and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, their desire to continue helping low-income families followed them. In 2011, Gary and three friends (Jeff Coggin, Jeff Dennison, and Tony Russell who are now fellow AOD board members) started planning to form AOD. In August 2011, they sent two kids from the Lincoln Mills neighborhood to the Aviation day camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
In January 2012, AOD was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation. Our IRS 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status was approved March 5, 2012. In 2013, AOD added two additional board members, Lucille Gardner and John Dunham.