When I hear a member say, “When I came to WES, I felt like I had come home,” I smile. Those words mean that for that member our community was welcoming, that it is a place where she can hang her hat, put up her feet, relax and know that someone will ask about her day. Those words also mean that she is invested in WES and cares about its physical well-being now and into the future – just as Sera and I do.
In our recent Vision and Budget Summit, we talked about money in ways that helped me understand what financial contributions Sera and I personally should be making to our WES home. It was clear from the pie charts of income and expenses that sustaining WES is not someone else’s issue – it is mine; it is ours. We also talked about how the financial contributions we make to WES allow us to thrive as a community. Our pledges provide us with the opportunity to reach toward our goals – for example, by hiring someone as pragmatic and magical as a new staff member who will organize and inspire our engagement at WES or by working together in order to bring us one step closer to our dream of becoming an increasingly multi-cultural, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, inclusive congregation.
There is a difference between maintaining our home, achieving our goals, and reaching for our dreams.
I was excited, earlier this year, when WES was approached about the corner property. I thought, “if we can get that property, we will solidify WES’s future. WES will stay here on this street, in this place, and will be able to grow as a community.” I had plans for that dream. The house converted into apartments and work spaces. New landscaping that allowed for a splendid vegetable garden and outdoor tables and seating for large celebrations. However, we didn’t have any funds set aside that made the dream of purchasing the property possible.
When Sera and I first decided to move in together, our primary concern was establishing a budget that we could afford and that helped us reach our goals – from finishing our degrees to dreaming about having a baby one day. We discovered we both had a habit of storing our extra change in coffee cans. In those days, coins were on hand because Sera never used credit cards and only paid in cash and I worked in restaurants and always had a number of coins I received with my tips, so between us we had a number of cans. Days after we moved into together, we rolled our coins and dropped them into a bucket. In another bucket we put a bottle of chilled champagne and glasses. We lugged both buckets to our neighbourhood bank and gave the cashier the rolls of coins to open our first joint account. We then toasted ourselves with the champagne. With those coffee cans and that joint account we began sharing our money, our lives, our dreams. In the years that have followed, when we have enough cans, we roll up the coins and decide how to use them – one year a pragmatic and yet whimsically bright red coffee maker, another year a rocking chair we didn’t really need, but both loved.
I am not giving up on dreaming for WES – dreaming of the possibilities of the house next door. This year, as you reflect on the WES budget (and your personal budget) and decide how you can contribute to sustaining WES and our shared goals, I ask you to also dream a little, and to fund those dreams as generously as you are able. Our dreams are calling, I think we all need to get our coffee cans ready!
Cayo Gamber, Stewardship Team & Auction Committee