By: Brad Carr, ELC Treasurer and ECC Parent
ELW Hymn 576 Verse 1: We all are one in mission; we all are one in call, our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all. A single great commission compels us from above to plan and work together that all may know Christ's love.
First, let me start by saying this story of our project together is not about me, it’s about us. This is a story of how we accomplished our Curb Appeal Improvement Project. I tell this story to have you reflect on your own time and talents you give to Emmanuel, as well as the untapped potentials we all have to give.
As my wife, Deb, and I began attending Emmanuel worships, first casually as “that couple that shows up once in a while”, and then joining as members in 2010, I couldn’t help but notice the need to improve the entry to the property at the corner of Oxnard and Radford. The signage, both for Laurel Hall and Emmanuel, was aging and it wasn’t evident the two properties were related. We found the Sunday message was impactful and the members were warm and inviting. Laurel Hall parents knew that on the other side of the chain link fence was a diamond in the rough. But for those who drive by, do they see a community they could be part of?
Soon after becoming members, I was asked to join the Congregation Council as a member at large. I said yes, not knowing what to expect, but knowing that I had more to give. My assigned task was to be the liaison to the Global Missions and Outreach Committee. My question to the chair and Council at the time was “So where is the Committee?” There wasn’t one active at the time. So let’s start one! With the support of Aaron Kraft, Christine Sullentrop, Vicki Stark, and Ernine Larson, we came together to think about what we could do.
We saw a need to support the world-wide water crisis. We launched the year-long “Water is Life” campaign to raise funds to build a well in Ethiopia. On January 17, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown declared California was in a drought and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to make water immediately available. The water crisis was here at our front door. We completed our goal of raising $10,000 and thru Water To Thrive, we funded a well construction in Ethopia that was completed on April 10, 2016.
Meanwhile during my first few years on Council, I continuously heard about this notion that Radford Street divides our church and Laurel Hall. Yes, Laurel Hall is West of Radford and the Sanctuary is to the East. This division was described as “us” and “them”. The Council looked for an opportunity to break down this division and unite us. Rebuilding “We” became an important goal. Creating uniform signage was one way to help us build on this goal.
Then Emmanuel received a generous donation from a memorial from the Stella family. This donation was directed to the church with the direction to do something special with it. Council members began to dream about the possibilities and the best use of this gift. We now had the opportunity to meet our goals:
- Improve our visibility by creating a gateway entrance to our property that includes new signage.
- Make it visually evident that Laurel Hall, the Early Childhood Center, and Emmanuel are one organization.
- Reduce our water usage by removing some turf.
- Create an opportunity for volunteers from church and schools to work together on a project.
We started getting quotes from signage vendors and building our project budget. Council approved the project and confirmed the sources of the funding, primarily coming from the Stella Fund. Signs were ordered and Dino D’Este’s Facilities team and ECC Dads handled the custom install. I’ll never forget watching the guys pour the concrete footings in the rain. And then the trailer the signs were delivered on did not have the drop tailgate that we ordered so we had to rent a fork lift to get them off. Vivid reminders that construction is never easy and rarely goes as you plan.
ELW Hymn 576 Verse 2: We all are called for service, to witness in God's name. Our ministries are diff'rent; our purpose is the same: to touch the lives of others with God's surprising grace, so ev'ry folk and nation may feel God's warm embrace. Stopped here!!
Once the signs were set, including the 3rd sign on the Southwest corner of the property, we reviewed where we were with expenses knowing we still needed to landscape.
Even though my day-to-day job as a father, husband, and TV production executive was commanding my time, I was committed to making time to complete this project. Toward the end of the July, Liju Varghese said to me “Are you doing this? We need to get this done before school comes back.” He woke me up and reminded me of the mission. I knew we couldn’t afford to do this phase by hiring it outside. I had faith that we could pull this together with the hands and talent we had.
The next day I started spreading RoundUp to kill off the grass and prepare the area to be landscape. Hmm, this is a big area to be landscaped. I’m going to need some help.
With the Grace of God, Tom Reilly and Mark Felicetti came to my side to plan and execute. First Saturday of August we demolished out a planter box and old sign concrete footings. We distributed flyers and emails to gather volunteers for the following weekend. I have to tell you, I was feeling quite stressed not knowing how many volunteers we’d get. After church service, Tom introduces me to Peter Thomas who read our flyer. Come to find out Peter works in landscape construction and he’s immediately ALL IN. Inside, I’m feeling SO relieved to know we have an expert to assist and guide us. It is in these moments I’m thinking, what are the chances we’d have a church member that has these talents and time to give?
Saturday, August 19th is when we really dug in…literally…by removing about 2 inches of dirt material which amounts to A LOT to take to the dump. Throughout the day we had nearly 27 people contribute their time. It was an amazing turnout. At the end of the day we completed the Laurel Hall corner. It felt so good, such an accomplishment, and an amazing transformation.
The following Saturday was our third. The weather was hotter, much hotter. My adrenaline had worn off. I don’t think I was alone. We had a good solid team to finish it out, this time Peter Thomas’ co-workers and Pedro, our gardener, brought men to assist. After a solid eight hours, we completed the project.
Working as a team with our community is rewarding. Now we need to replicate this teamwork off of our property, getting into the community, putting ourselves into a place to help others. This is the outreach that we are called to do and we need to do to survive as a congregation and school.
Here’s what I want you to ask yourself. What time and talents do I have to give? What more can I do to support our mission? The next time you think “They should do something about that!”, I challenge YOU to be the one to make it happen. There’s a lot more work to do together. We are just getting started.
ELW Hymn 576 Verse 3: Now let us be united, and let our song be heard. Now let us be a vesel for God's redeeming Word. We all are one in mission; we all are one in call, our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.
God’s Work. Our Hands. Everyday.
Brad Carr, ELC Treasurer
For those of you who like the details, here’s a financial summary. The project’s approved budget was $60,150. The three signs purchased came in less than estimated. The project’s final total cost is $49,312, which is $10,839 under budget. The Stella Fund provided $35,895, with the balance coming from the 2015-2016 operating budget.
We are grateful for everyone who touched this project, including Tom Reilly, Mark Felicetti, Peter Thomas, Dennis Hahle, Joe Hahle, Alex Reilly, Dick Bassler, Lisa Polis, Robin Barry, Sabrina Miller, Marshall Bowen, Liz Rickertsen, Pastor Marty Hancer, Aaron Kraft, Ken Wilcox, Kristen Longfield, Nana Longfield, Mark Longfield, Ute Iaconis, Blake Landis, Charlie Gerencer, Beef Evans, Vicky Stark, Mark Rickertsen, Sam Reilly, Scott Stegman, Deb Carr, Robert McLeod, Boris Rodriguez, Mark Stegman, Craig Bollesen, Liju Varghese, Dino D’Este, Carlos Talamantes, Osman Erazo,Francisco Gallardo, Campos Landscaping and Steve Eberts
If you would like to make a contribution directly towards this project or future projects, we are still accepting donations. Know that there’s many ways to see your stewardship come to light. The Emmanuel Lutheran Foundation grows through generous gifts which are prudently invested and prayerfully dispersed to support the ministries of Emmanuel Lutheran Church.