State of The Club Presented by Mike Borfitz, VWC President

VWC

The Villages Woodworkers Club

Dear Membership,

In keeping with the practice of reviewing the accomplishments and experiences of the previous year please see the following:

 

State of the VWC – January 2022 (A Review of 2021)

The calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021 and VWC’s expectations were high. We had just finished a year in which a pandemic had spread through the world effecting all of us in some way and we believed we were about to take possession of our second shop site at Brownwood very soon. But hold the presses.... things were not going to go quite as smoothly as we had anticipated.

We were busy beginning to validate the computer program that would allow us to have both sites on-line in real time and Rik Peirce was investigating Lightspeed as a way to handle the financial side of the front desk program..... and speaking of front desks, the Maintenance people were building some beautiful, very functional furniture for the new front office. In anticipation of Special Projects moving to Brownwood, Voytek Kulesza, who was fashioning the new desks, agreed to head up Special Projects too. And we anticipated an opening of the Brownwood shop as early as April.

But, at the end of January, we saw fit to close the shop for two weeks because of the concern about Covid.

We re-opened again in February, being careful to clean surfaces, take temperatures, and keep the front door locked in order to check everyone who came in.

Certification for new members continued even as the waiting list grew at an even faster pace.

In early March we officially took possession of the Brownwood building and stepped up our effort to equip and furnish it. We still did not have full possession to open the doors to the members, but we were making progress against the daunting task of getting everything ready....and we were staying within the budget we had proposed.

As April came along, we were still optimistic about the opening of Brownwood being “right around the corner” and were scripting the material for the orientation tours necessary for the membership to be able to utilize the new facility.

But whoa, that was not going to happen quite as fast as we hoped. As the busy maintenance department was working to get everything right, problems outside our control cropped up. For instance, the room on the mezzanine which would house carvers and stained-glass workers was connected to the vacuum system (just as it should be), but when the system was turned on in that room, the decibel level floated right around 100 – NOT ACCEPTABLE! Back to The Villages and the contractors for correction of this problem.

At the same time, while using the equipment in Brownwood to build the furnishings, there were big problems with the vacuum system plugging up. As we tried to work that issue out, we were informed that the plastic barrels we were using to catch the sawdust were unacceptable and that further use of them would invalidate the warranty on the system. We were informed that we could only use the 55-gallon steel drums that came with the system.

Now we had a new problem – how do we dump the drums when they are full without injuring the folks trying to do so. The challenges continued and the opening date kept getting pushed further and further back.

Finally, we were able to open the Brownwood shop to the membership (at least those who had been on the orientation tour) on October 11. Were all the problems solved? No, we instituted workarounds that remained in place to the end of the year, but the good news was that they were actively being worked by The Villages and we counted on the fact that next year’s state of VWC report would be able to report that all systems were safe and fully functional.

After all the aforementioned info one would wonder if anything went right.  Be assured even the pains of the problems could not take away the fact that in 2021 we opened a world-class woodshop, maybe even the premier one in the world and it all happened because of the outstanding talent and dedication we have in the membership of VWC. And we did all of it without borrowing a cent (even though we had negotiated a line of credit if we needed it).

What about the other areas? Thank goodness for Rolling Acres that kept everything going. It was opened, closed, scrubbed, modified to handle more covid concerns and kept on going. In fact, towards the end of the year a committee was formed and began to meet to see how the layout and use of the 704 Oak Street location could be improved.

And Santa’s elves in the Toy Department kept working whenever they could and in August distributing the 100,000th toy since the department’s inception while producing the second highest number of toys in any single year - despite the openings and closings of the shop.

The Education department expanded the number of classes offered and beefed up the mentoring program.

The Maintenance Department identified levels of capability among all the staff and the daily volunteers and established a maintenance presence in the shops at all times.

The Safety department did likewise – all in the effort of making the shop safe while helping people learn the correct ways to work in a shop environment.

Our website has continued to grow into a user-friendly tool for learning, communicating, checking out classes, voting and began work to create a want ad section for members.

Be aware that all these things happened as we tried to keep our fingers on the pulse of Covid cases within our membership.

What about our growing membership and the waiting list?  Well as 2021 ended, the Club membership was over1300 and the waiting list hovered right around 500.  Certification continued at Rolling Acres and plans for conducting certification at Brownwood were underway.

We were and continue to be frequent users of Zoom as we try to govern our little woodworking country hoping to make it a Shangri-La for woodworkers.

But closing on a more solemn note, the following members passed away:

Ahlgren, William

Ashey, James

Bell, Robert

Bishop, R

Crocker, James

Dennis, Elizabeth

Gillen, Paul

Helms, Larry

Irwin, Gene

Keen, Valerie

Morsilli, Harold

Oldendorp, Albert

Page, Albert

Prost, Wallace

Sawyer, Heather

Tobiasson, Michael

Yinger, Nick

 

May they be a reminder to embrace our Club and appreciate the people we have the pleasure to meet in this latter part of our lives.

Bottom line, The Village Woodworkers club continues to be a strong capable and well supported organization of which we should all be proud and 2022 looks very promising.