Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) September 12, 2023
We had fun going over the top!
I hope that many of the recipients of these Grange Notes were able to join us at the “Montpelier Contra Dance” Challenge Fundraiser Finale event on Saturday, Sept. 2. There were around 156 people at the dance, and we got generous contributions from a lot of you to get us past our goal of raising $2500 to match $2500 already pledged by “Challengers”.
Besides the excitement of collecting donations, we also decorated the Hall with many strings of holiday lights (see the photo below), and (at the break in the dance) provided ice cream and fruit popsicles, plus home-made treats from cheddar cheese to gingerbread, to gluten-free brownies for everyone–all of them popular! Donation buckets by the snacks got filled, and people also bought quite a few of the beautiful houseplants which were grown by Rob Nichols–his last year of taking on the large task of propagating, potting, re-potting, delivering and selling them. He’s donated all the “profits” from the plants to the fundraiser for years! And many people stopped by the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall table on the porch, to donate the change from their admission, or drop off a check or send money via Venmo or Paypal in support of the fundraiser. It all added up! By the end of the break we had gone over our target, ending up with about $5,300 in total!
Genticorum plays for a crowd of happy dancers
Caller Will Mentor took this picture from behind the band during the dance on Sept. 2. Band members Yann Falquet, Pascal Gemme and Nicholas Williams (L to R) kept the dancers’ feet moving all evening. It was fun to decorate the Hall for this special event, too!
Helping our town’s residents after the flood
This year, we decided that only 50% of the money raised will go into the bank account for the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall Inc., our planning and fundraising partner organization. Your generous contributions will help us to finance future improvements.
But this year, we also really wanted to help people who lived in mobile home parks in the Town of Berlin, where the Hall is located. The Berlin Mobile Home Park and the River Run Manor Park were both located right next to the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River, and both were hard hit by the July flooding.
We consulted with residents of these parks, especially with the help of Corinne Cooper, one of the people whose home was destroyed in the Berlin Mobile Home Park. Corinne works for UVM Extension’s Berlin office, and is also quite familiar with the Grange, a connection that made it easy to work with her. She’s been a regular at our Community Potluck dinners in the past. She has been helping other families with the recovery process after the floods, since she has knowledge and contacts with VT agencies, legislators, etc. She’s also a former Assistant Town Clerk for Berlin.
Corinne has given us a list of 41 families who owned or rented space in those two mobile home parks. We have ordered 41 Visa Gift Cards to give to these families–it’s not nearly enough to help them recover completely from this major disaster, but we hope it will help them to afford some things to make their lives better. We believe that they can best decide what they need, and the gift cards give them access to the wide range of things they might need, from groceries to gas to winter boots and school supplies for kids. We’re pleased we can help, even in small ways.
Grange meetings: starting up again on Saturday
- Financial report: our Grange Calendar has been looking quite full–check it out! We think that this has been helping our bank balances as we head toward the winter months. Treasurer Merry Shernock will give us the figures.
- Hall report: we still have a few loose ends to finish up from our big project–and the new paint and trim show us where we need to take care of some old paint that doesn’t look as good.
- Rental report: Merry is also our Rental Agent for the Hall. She’s done a lot of work with families and organizations to help them find the best ways to use our Hall–and she’s encouraged them to get involved as members to help us keep it in good shape, too! She’ll report on the response.
- State Grange annual session: every year, Grange members from around the state convene. This year, for the first time, it will be in Middlebury. We’ll talk about resolutions that our delegates (who wants to join me for this convention?) will have to vote on. And we’ll be discussing the possible hosting of the 2024 Annual Session at our own Grange Hall!
- Website management changes: since all of you reading this have been paying equally close attention to previous editions, you’ll remember that I have reported on several “rough spots” installing updates to our website recently. I’ve been frantically trying to learn the very basics of being a “webmaster”, in the absence of any volunteers who are able and willing to monitor our site. Recently, I’ve chosen hire a website maintenance company–come to the meeting to learn more. I still need some help, brothers and sisters!
- Planning for the Fall programs: Grange Lecturer Carl Etnier will discuss what his plans are for public programs for the October and December meetings. And we’ll discuss how to get more people to come.
- Bring your own ideas about how to improve our Grange and our Community Service mission! We are always open to suggestions, especially from people who want to put in some time and energy to make them happen. That’s how we’ve taken on sponsoring Kids Trade & Play and Dance, Sing and Jump Around, now well-established at our Hall. What else can happen at our Hall and in our community that the Grange can help with?
It’s Community Potluck time!
Yes, we’ll be back to monthly potluck dinners following Grange meetings (in odd-numbered months like this one) and the Grange Community Program (in even-numbered months). Start thinking about what delectable dish you want to bring, to provide extra excitement for the potluck–or what brand of chips’n’salsa you want to grab from the store on your way over.
We’ll be holding our potlucks in the Lower Level, now accessible for ALL thanks to the wheelchair/platform lift! We have all the dishes we’ll need in our cabinets, plus we have lots of serving utensils, so just bring your food to share, and your appetite, and join us for a tasty and social meal!
Thanks for the help at the State Grange Center
We provided an enjoyable introduction to social dancing for the VT State Grange members who stayed for the evening meal and entertainment after the VSG’s “Fall Festival” on Saturday, Sept. 9. Our Grange is known for having a lot of fun dancing happening, so were asked to provide the entertainment, for the first time since before the pandemic.
Calling for the dance was provided by Liz Benjamin, who is also the caller for the kids & family dance series sponsored by and held at our Grange in the winter months: Dance, Sing and Jump Around. She called simple dances, suited to the inexperienced folks who were there. Music was provided by fiddler Susan Reid, a fixture in the Montpelier music scene who also grew up in Randolph and Brookfield, where the State Grange center is located. She invited Doug Lapoint (fiddle and mandolin) and Mike Fiorillo (guitar), and they played great dance music for several round and line dances, plus a waltz. Merry Shernock and I were there to provide more experienced partners, along with Doug & Mike’s spouses. It was a small dance, but enjoyable!
Thanks so much to the people who helped make this happen–it means a lot to the State Grange, which has been a major supporter for our Grange over the years.
P.S.: I set up our Champlain Valley Fair display with other Granges’ exhibits for the Fall Festival, and we earned a First place blue ribbon this time–a step up from the Second place red ribbon we got at the fair. I’ll be bringing the Grange Hall model made by Alison Forrest to our Hall, for all to see.