Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) November 10, 2023
It’s time for our double-event weekend for kids and their families!
We expect to have a lot of “family fun” this weekend. We have been having Kids Trade & Play on Second Saturdays every month, and this Sunday marks the beginning of the Winter Season for Dance, Sing & Jump Around, on every Second Sunday through April.
1. KT&P has been drawing a lot of “customers” already. In October, we had the biggest attendance ever–134 adults, plus about 85 kids. Organizer Erin Barry expects more of these sorts of numbers at upcoming events, now that the word is very clearly spreading about the great choices that are available, in clean, gently used, unstained and unripped clothing for kids. During each event, from 9:30 to 11:30 AM on Saturdays, there is a constant stream of parents, grandparents and other caretakers with and without their kids showing up to check out what’s available, and most of them leave with good-sized bags of clothes.
Many of the folks who come bring bags and boxes of clothes that kids have outgrown, which they’re happy to pass on to new people. All of these clothes have to be sorted and inspected by volunteers–and we can always use more help! It’s an enjoyable, social event for everyone involved. Erin says the event works best with 7-9 volunteers “on duty” during the event to help “shoppers” and sort clothes, and at the end to put away all the bins of clothes. If you’d like to be part of this group, please contact Erin at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently ask for a $3 donation per family, but no one is ever turned away. We appreciate folks who give a little extra to make this easy to do. These small donations keep the wheels turning–this is a very non-profit event!
2. As mentioned above, Dance, Sing and Jump Around runs during the colder months of the year, with this Sunday kicking off this season. As usual, dances, play-party games and songs will be led and called by DS&JA founder Liz Benjamin with help from Stan Carlson. There will be live music–this time by VT Fiddle Orchestra members. And some relatively healthy snacks, too! We’ll have paper and color crayons and pens for kids who want to sit out a dance. The important thing is for everyone to have a good time! We were getting around 50 people for these events in last winter’s season of DS&JA, and look forward to similar fun starting this Sunday at 3:00!
We let kids in for FREE, and ask for a donation of $5 per adult–and we expect you to join in the fun on the dance floor with your kids! As with KT&P, we never turn away anyone who doesn’t have the money that day–we’re happy to have everyone take part. For more information, check out the DS&JA website!
3. Alert readers will also note the lawn sign in the ground to the right of our Grange sign. I picked this up at the VT State Grange Annual Session at the end of October. The National Grange has been supporting expansion of broadband service to under-served areas–which certainly include rural areas like Vermont. They have partnered with the federal effort called the Affordable Connectivity Program, which can provide subsidies for internet access to low-income households, as well as free or discounted devices to connect to the internet, plus digital literacy training. Local Granges like ours are being recruited to take part in this effort–and I think it would be great for someone besides me to take this on! There’s much more to learn at: https://www.acprc.org/.
Dance, Sing & Jump Around in action!
This is what it looked like last January, with a band of teenage musicians, and Liz Benjamin getting ready to call a new dance. We had about 50 people of all ages that day! Please join us on Sunday, Nov. 12 to see how much fun you can have!
Rental policy subcommittee
At our November 5 meeting, we did agree to set up a Rental Committee, including–so far–Merry Shernock (our Rental Agent), Patty Giavara and Erin Barry. We would still be happy to have another person from the Grange community who may have facilities management or rental experience. Below is the “Help Wanted” ad I put in the previous Grange Notes–please get in touch if you are interested!
Needed: New Grange rentals committee member(s). Our tenants – both our regular weekly/monthly renters, plus many one-time or short term users – help us to pay Hall expenses and maintain and grow our vibrant Grange Hall community. Rental of the Hall for cultural arts programming, community meetings and events, plus family gatherings is core to our Grange’s community service mission. The rentals committee develops and recommends rental policies, and provides support and guidance to the Rental Agent when requested. Experience with venue management or rentals would be helpful but not required. Open to members and non-members! Please contact Tim or Merry to learn more.
Planning for State Session 2024
Also at our November 5 meeting, we started discussing what we will need to do to get ready for Capital City Grange to host the 2024 VT State Grange Annual Session at our Hall, on Oct. 25 & 26, 2024.
Among the possible ways we can facilitate this is by providing lunches and at least one dinner for the Grange delegates from around the state. At our meeting, Richard DeCosta, Charles Mayhood and Alison Forrest volunteered to start discussing if we can do this, at a similar “price point” as the meals at the most recent State Session–$12 for lunches, $20 for dinner. Stay tuned for more developments.
One thing for sure–we will need help from other Grange community members to do Hall set-up and clean-up, plus help with kitchen prep-work and clean-up, plus dishwashing after meals. Please put Oct. 25 & 26, 2024 on your Calendars, and let me know what you’d like to do! Ask any questions, of course!
FCCGH Fall Appeal is underway
At our Nov. 4 meeting, Patty Giavara, the Chair of the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall gave us a report on the activities of the FCCGH. Right now, the end-of-year fundraising appeal has just been sent out. This is one of two fundraising campaigns that are regular ways for members of the Grange community to support the mission of the Friends. As the name implies, the mission is to “ensure the long-term stability of the Hall” and to “support the maintenance improvement and public promotion of the Hall”.
To that end, this (501)(c)(3) non-profit, charitable corporation raises money from the community of Grange members and Hall users. In most cases, these funds are used as “matching funds”, which are required to receive 50% grant funding for the major projects the FCCGH takes on. Since the beginning of 2022, the Friends and the Grange have invested a total of $103,900 in 3 major Hall improvements: a wood-pellet furnace, the lift for wheelchair and other users, and a complete scraping and painting of the Hall exterior! More details about the many projects the FCCGH has carried out are available on the Donate page of the Grange website.
Conveniently located at the bottom of that page is “Donate” button, which you can use to contribute to the Friends. If you’ve given before, and we have your address, you may already have received a printed version of this Fall Appeal in the mail, or via email. We’ve already started receiving contributions–and we’d love to have you join the list of contributors! Questions? Send an email to me, Tim: email@example.com, and I’ll do my best to answer them–and to put you on the list to get the appeal letter if you want!
Heating cost report
Also at our Nov. 4 meeting, I had the pleasure to report on our heating costs, for the first heating season using the pellet furnace that was installed in the spring of 2022. I was able to report on the cost and amount of pellets we used during the winter of 22-23, compared to the cost of the fuel oil we would have used with the old oil furnace we used to have. The bottom line is that we saved about $1,500 with the pellet furnace–based on the actual cost of pellets, and the average cost of fuel oil during that heating season. We saved about 37% of what we would have spent on oil! This is a significant improvement, and helps us to continue paying off the loan we got from the VT State Grange that helped us purchase the pellet furnace. And we can enjoy the reduction in our “carbon footprint” we gain by no longer using fossil fuel for heating.
January 6, 2024: a “real” Grange meeting
If you’re interested in the Grange (and you’re reading these notes, so we think you are interested), you should consider joining us for the first meeting of 2024. We’ve decided to bring out the sashes for officers, along with the “stations” where they sit, and the “staves” that designate certain officers, and have a meeting that follows the standard Grange protocol for meetings of “Community Granges” like ours.
What does that mean? The meeting will incorporate some of the 19th century language used by all Grange ritual, will include a few songs with accompaniment by our Grange Musician (yes, he’s an officer and wears a sash too!), and will follow a designated agenda to make sure that we get reports from all the “Departments”–Legislative, Agriculture, Community Service, etc.–and consider “new business” as well as items left over from the previous meeting–“old business”. Taking part in this process will also connect us to the roots of the Grange, and the generations of Grange members and officers who have taken part in the same process to keep the organization running for all of these years.
Why haven’t we been doing this all along? Since the advent of COVID, we have been having our meetings remotely, or at least “hybrid”–a combination of in-person and Zoom attendance. We haven’t had a fully in-person meeting–and because of that, we have not been using our version of the Grange meeting program. We have not found a way to set up the Grange, or to conduct our meeting so that it can be audible to both those present in person and those listening and viewing the meeting from their homes. Now, we think it’s time to dust off the sashes and the meeting ritual, and connect with the Grange roots that led to our Grange surviving since being chartered in 1914! Please plan to join us on Jan. 6–anyone can attend! It will also be a good time to pay dues for Grange membership for 2024, if you are already a member, or if you want to join. Questions? Send an email to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.