Many mornings, I walk with our dog, Lucky, down to Westside Road to get the paper. On my trek I observe many of the great projects that our facilities and land team have accomplished along with the help of many volunteers and Americorps crews.
Walking along Harrison House, I pass a bank of native grasses planted to stem the erosion that was occurring. I also notice the wood trellis that was built to cradle the roses growing below the deck. A little further on, beyond the towering corn in Francisco’s garden is the rustic, split-rail fence built by BREAD campers, and the walking trail that leads to the Pavilion and Refectory that was constructed by volunteers.
I take in other landscaping and building projects as I continue up the driveway. Then, with the morning sun’s illumination, I appreciate two of our most recent projects, the freshly painted chapel, and the level, shaded Art Center patio.
The white chapel that is the centerpiece of the Ranch property was looking a bit dingy. Ranch Foreman, Doug Wade, arranged a boom lift and power washer to give the building a good cleaning. In the process it was discovered that what seemed to be dirt was in fact places where the paint had worn away.
We called Steve Devine, our go-to painter and because it had just been washed he gave us a discounted price. Steve did a beautiful job and his price was fair, but the cost had not been built into this year’s budget. Here is where the team effort comes in. Because of the success of the 2012 Annual Fund we were able to set aside money for unexpected maintenance projects. So it wasn’t just the facilities team, or Steve’s skill that beautified the chapel, but also the support of the 532 people that made an Annual Fund contribution.
The Art Center was established in 1997 as a place for people to explore their creativity. It is an intimate space that is great for individuals or small groups. When larger groups want to use the space they need move outside the Art Center. In the past that area was sloped and uneven with tree roots and gopher mounds. In the summer, to temper the harsh mid-day sun, umbrellas sprouted up, taking some of the limited space. Resident Artist, Lisa Thorpe dreamed of a flat, shaded space where she could lead group art activities.
Last year when the old, gnarled acacia tree came down it seemed we could finally create a patio. Plans were developed, but it was a project that Doug and his crew could not pull off without help. That help came in two forms. The first was Silver 2, the Americorps crew that stayed and worked with us from January to April. They worked over the coarse of a couple weeks to excavate and level the area, install gopher wire and weed cloth, spread base rock and a layer of wood chips. They landscaped the slope below the new patio with native grasses and created a retaining wall with steps as an alternate entrance to the space. The project was finished off with the addition of steel poles with wire strands to support shade cloth. The result was a great space where large groups gathered and crafted together in comfort even in heat of the summer.
Help for that project came in a second form, the annual contributions that individuals and families make to the Ranch through the Annual Fund. Those contributions allow us to host Americorps crews, accomplish special projects, take care of unexpected needs and further the ministry of the Ranch.
Hardly a week goes by where I don’t hear from people about how great the Ranch is kept, and how it seems to improve every year. I always respond that we have a great team here. When I say that I don’t mean just the people who are putting shovels to dirt, hammers to nails or paint to walls. Keeping this place thriving is a team effort and Annual Fund donors are an important part of that team. We have a spot for you on our roster. Won’t you join us?