I’m writing from Switzerland where Kathy and I and my daughter are visiting my father for a few days. We left during a busy time. And I will be away for the midterm election (yes, I voted absentee). I'm trying to take it as a moment of peace before the craziness of running a business through the holidays begins in earnest. Who knows what the election will bring? I’m nervous about it. Either way, I expect profound implications for refugees, asylees and the displaced around the world. I hope many will keep this in mind when they vote.
It’s been an interesting, beautiful, sometimes disconcerting few days. We visited Venice, where my daughter is studying. I didn’t expect to like it because of the (other) tourists, but found it almost magically beautiful, although old, crumbling everywhere with water damaged streets and walls.
My first surprise came at a little trattoria we found for dinner. I ordered some kind of purple gnocchi, and after just a few bites a tooth came out. Actually, it was just a loose crown, but in the first second I thought, It’s a stone, and then, Maybe the cook lost his tooth into my food. Then I realized it was mine. Immediately, I longed to be home where I felt safe and knew how to reach my dentist. (I’ve since resolved the problem with a little denture adhesive I found in a farmacia in Florence.)
A second, more slow-motion shock was the flood. A siren sounded before we left our Airbnb. By noon we were barefoot with rolled up pant legs and joking about getting “the real Venice experience.” But that wasn’t the end of it. The following morning there were heavy rains and wind and a much longer siren that meant most of the city could flood. (You can see the pictures here.) We took an early train to Florence. (Reading the headlines about global warming after this kind of experience is sobering.)
Now, a couple days later, we are in Basel, where my parents live. My dad is nearly a year into recovering from a stroke that jangled parts of his brain and his life. For a storytelling (self-proclaimed) hillbilly and professional linguist who was so powerfully verbal all this life, this stroke has been a profound adjustment for all of us. He’s cheerful, surprisingly gentle, wonderfully obstinate in his attempts to learn a new way to communicate. He still tells fragments of old jokes or favorite unique expressions and these have an interesting way of bridging (or grounding or anchoring us all) as we make our way into a new reality.
Water, floods, politics, change. There’s a thought about Beautiful Day that I’m straining towards. Maybe it will make sense. So many of the refugees we’ve worked with have told us stories of their lives changing in an instant. The soldiers came. They got separated. She picked up her baby and ran… It sometimes sounds far away and inconceivable. Yet a body can have its interior disruptions. A stroke can have an instant, irrevocable impact on a life. As can floods or elections. (Maybe not so much a loosened tooth, though I keep replaying that moment of surprise.) Figuring out how to live in a meaningful way afterwards seems to involve knowing which changes to accept and which to fight against.
But what I actually sat down to write about was our Anchor Fund. I’ll do this quickly—I feel like it’s my last chance before we switch focus to holiday sales and our annual holiday appeal.
One big decision we made early this summer was to adjust our budget by 50K to create a reserve fund. Not knowing where the money would come from and taking this on just when I was onboarding Rebecca as our new Director of Strategic Partnerships felt somewhat overwhelming. Yet absolutely essential for managing cash flow and consistently making payroll. We run a seasonal business, so our expenses are sometimes the highest right at the same moment when our sales are the lowest (usually May and September).
Because we live in the Ocean State we decided to name this our Anchor Fund. I know that even the need for an anchor is a sign of growth. Anchors are not necessary for canoes (or gondolas). But with 11 employees, and 20 trainees, Beautiful Day is no longer a canoe of an organization. Our board developed policies to govern use of these funds and we set a goal to raise 50K immediately and another 50K next year. Eventually this fund will cover 4 months of expenditures and serve as collateral for future initiatives. Making the decision to try and raise this money did feel like trying to lean into our new reality.
The good news is that this fund is already mostly in place. One donor “anchored” the fund with one-time gift of 12K. This helped us approach a few other key donors for some large contributions. A board member secured a pledge to match up to 10K in smaller gifts.
At this point, because smaller gifts up to 1K will be matched, we have just a bit less than $15,000 left to raise. We’ve decided to make this our last invitation to contribute to it until we resume work on it next year. You can send checks to Beautiful Day at 10 Davol Square, Unit 100 or donate on line. Please clearly designate (on the check or in a note or email) it to the Anchor Fund so that we can apply it to the fund and match. We’re asking contributors to think of gifts to this fund as above and beyond regular giving that normally goes towards program expenses.
Thanks for reading. You are welcome to comment or share any of your own stories that come to mind. This is an important time in the year for bringing people to our site via social media so we welcome your help.