As I did last year, I would like to present our version of the State of the Union. I will call it State of the VWC 2015 – a compilation of the events of 2014 for our Club.
A year ago, at this time, I predicted that we might hit 800 members in the coming year. Well, let me assure you we definitely fulfilled that prediction. In February we hit the 800 number and by the end of the year, the total number of dues paid in 2014 was 899. Reflecting life, some of our members passed away; others become incapacitated; and some will choose not to return…. But it gives you a sense of the numbers we are approaching.
We also accepted our first severely handicapped member. We worked with The Villages and drew from the expertise of one of our members to certify and provide a wheelchair-confined individual the ability to join the Club. Having joined he did not make an effort to participate in the Shop; but, the membership should be proud that they went the extra mile to meet the need.
In addition we entertained 1335 visitors during 2014 (at least those were the ones that signed the guest book).
Last year at this time we welcomed Hans Zassenhaus, Charlie Murray and Clyde Hamilton to the Board of Directors. Tonight we will elect three new Board members to replace our outgoing members – Richard Bender, Anne Bell and Tom Miller. We thank the outgoing members for their diligence and efforts.
Our building and facilities exhibited some signs of aging and growth. Those of you who remain in Florida for the whole year will recall that we had some pretty warm days in the Shop……………..because the AC failed. The Villages quickly reacted to the issue and had two new units installed. We closed for a day, but when all was done, we had two new units to accompany the third which had also been recently replaced. We should now be okay as far as air conditioning for ten years or so.
Inside the building our maintenance department strived to make the area we have more efficient. Dave Adamovich expanded his staff to provide more coverage. An additional first aid box was added near the toy area; bins were constructed for instructor use; a magnetic strip was added to the wall along the lathes and new vacuum drops were built and placed along that wall; the tv area in the lunch room was redesigned to create an area for the computer and little bins to store the paraphernalia housed in there; internet access was added to allow instructors the ability to draw from Utube and other sources for classes; and the toy area was provided with drawers and cabinets to make the best use of their small area. We also upgraded the chairs in the carving area and the painting area. We were able to purchase a new sander to replace the oscillating one we had, a new radial arm saw and a mini-lathe.
On The Toy Department front, the “elves” (a.k.a. VWC members) continued to produce toys, introducing some more sophisticated items. Through November, the department gave away $46,086 worth of toys. (Remember we are the ones who established the price/worth of the toys. I’m sure if they were to be sold in stores, the value would be much higher.) We also established a partner in leadership or “second-in-command” position within the toy area. Conway Williams graciously accepted this position and has aided Dan Pallo in all aspects associated with toys. It is the plan that when he is comfortable with it, Conway will assume full responsibility for the toy area…. And of course we will then be looking for a new “second-in-command”. Also in the Toy Area, we established the new position of Toy Painting Manager. Jo Haslo accepted this new position and established the painting standards for the painting volunteers. We now have three shifts of toy painting. As a result of negotiation by Bob Thompson we were happy to establish a relationship with Lowes who provides some free lumber to the Toy area. They join Ro-Mac who also donates lumber from which the toys are constructed.
Safety remained an extremely important aspect of the Club. There were some incidents that required attention and caused us concern – i.e. two injuries on the table saw; a nasty cut on the band saw; a scary injury on a lathe, a nasty fall, and a couple of incidents of light-headedness. We carefully investigated these incidents and made corrections to aid in not encountering similar situations again. We strive to make safety important to all.
In 2013 Tom Miller lead the Club into the endeavor of providing urns for indigent veterans. In 2014, Alvin Corenblum, who just celebrated his 92 birthday last week, made it his goal to provide as many urns as we could to this important cause. He created an assembly line to provide the necessary urns. Together he, and his workers, built 177 urns to allow our veterans to be buried with dignity.
Our Special Project efforts also saw change. In November of 2013 Bob Thompson assumed leadership of the Special Project area. He established a schedule for accepting projects on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week. It worked well and projects, both big and small, were delivered to the community. In November of 2014, Bob stepped down. Hans Zassenhaus assumed leadership. At the same time an ad hoc committee convened to establish new guidelines for accepting special projects with a sensitivity to not taking business away from local establishments, not reproducing things that are generally available in the commercial world, and keeping an eye towards the general usage of space in the Shop.
The Carving area produced an “Introduction to Carving” video and offered a beginning class. A number of members stepped forward to try their hands at carving. The carvers continue to reach out to the membership of the Club and to provide bridges between that part of the Shop and the other members.
Of course, what is a year without controversy? I was responsible for creating what became the known as the “Glue Wars”. When I suggested that members be responsible for purchasing and using their own glue, an uprising replied back advising me of the negative sides of such a suggestion. In the end, a compromise was worked out and Type I and II glue still remain available to the members. Type III is offered as an item for purchase. The responsibility for filling the bottles was transferred to the Tool Crib and I think that, in the end, everybody won!
We participated in Colonial Days last year and decided to provide some items for purchase. Linda Samson hawked the card holders; the toys were up for sale and some pens and small bowls were purchased. In the end we netted $877 for the Club.
In the Lumber area, Murry Bishop and Ernie DeSantis who had worked together for a long time to make sure the Wood Shed was well provided with lumber decided to turn the reins over to new members. To that end, Steve Yovan, assisted by Kevin Vanscoy, agreed to assume responsibility for the ordering and distribution of lumber to the membership.
And of course to close the year, we once again celebrated the holidays with a membership Christmas party, a raffle for hand-made items, and door prizes galore. We celebrated our biggest event to date by gathering at the Savannah Center. Approximately 325 of us attended – the largest group to date. Alice Besler lead the effort to make sure we had items for the chance drawing as well as door prizes for the guests. In the end, we realized between $3100 and $3200 dollars for the Club.
Now we are faced with another year with challenges about which we may not yet know. What I do know is that this Club is filled with the most generous and hard-working people anyone can imagine and as challenges arise, I know that we will meet them head-on and continue to make The Villages Woodworkers Club a premier part of The Villages.
Thanks to all,