There may not be much visible as of now, but there is much progress behind the scenes. Stef and I attended the grantee workshop in Trenton on April 29th. There we received instruction on how to manage the capital grant of $487,797. Meanwhile, Consistory has signed the grant agreement forms and restructured our Preservation Team. We opened it to all members of Property, Finance, and Fund-Raising. It is quite a large team now! I am also glad to report that Julius Fekete is succeeding me as convener of the Team, while Lauren Bernhofer serves as clerk. The first meeting of the Team took place on May 24.
One of the agenda items of this first meeting was the development of a list of volunteer projects as part of Phase I of our preservation project. This list encompasses the restoration of the “florist entrance” to the church, the repair of the cemetery fence, and the restoration of the railings at the main entrance to the church.
Meanwhile, Rev. Paul Nulton is already spending a second fortnight this year with the restoration of our sanctuary windows. We are very grateful for his services. Paul is one of our denomination’s volunteer coordinators. In addition, we received unexpected help from a government program that provides summer youth employment for eight weeks this summer. We requested two young people for work at our site and attended the corresponding workshop at the One-Stop Career Center on 506 Jersey Avenue. We were surprised to see many church representatives among the other participating employers. Over the summer, Julius Fekete, Ellen and Bruce Hamilton, and Robert Stahl will serve as supervisors here at church from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day. The program begins Jul 6th and ends on August 28th. It does not involve any cost on our part except our expenditures for material.
All this is accompanied by new efforts of our Fund-Raising Committee to secure more funding for our preservation project. Under the leadership of Janet Waanders, they are currently focusing on grant applications with a variety of private foundations. Later, this will have to be supplemented with outreach to businesses and organizations in our community.
Even though this is not part of our preservation project, I would like to take the opportunity and inform you of the status of our UST Fund grant application for remediation and reconstruction costs after the removal of our underground oil tank. A letter from the Department of Environmental Protection informed us that our eligibility for the grant will be determined sometime in June. Work on the site will first commence when DEP allows us to do so. It seems that we are at a minimum several months away from replacing the temporary asphalt cover with concrete sidewalk.
As you can see, dear reader, our preservation efforts are quite complex. This is positive in difficult economic times, as it means that we will always experience progress somewhere, even if we suffer setbacks here and there.