In the best of worlds, absent the effect of outside forces, say, two hurricanes in the last 9 months, progress on Rose Haven building and construction projects marches along at a steady pace. Along with meeting deadlines, progress can be visible to those working on tasks and those observing changes over time. Of course, the old query – if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around, does it make a sound? – doesn’t apply to progress. As long as folks continue efforts on task, progress occurs, whether observable or not. For nonprofits especially, reaching benchmarks on projects and programs seldom matches deadlines.
The Rose Haven Center of Healing perfectly exemplifies the fickleness of progress but at the same time models persistence, another key ingredient. As long as we continue to put one foot forward at a time, optimism will fuel the journey, and we will arrive at our destination. Ironically for Pamlico Rose and its mission, this signals the beginning of another journey for those who will utilize the Center’s facilities.
Progress on Rose Haven
We have secured a building permit for the house. Our general contractor, Matt Sopher of Turning Point Inc., has lined up subcontractors for the rehabilitation work. His plan involves repairing the deck under the back roof, which has accumulated water damage over time, and then installing a new roof. When that is complete, the south wall (facing the barn) window frames will be installed and most if not all of the outside clapboards on that wall will be replaced with recycled cypress clapboards donated by Marshall Taylor. The south wall windows have been restored and are awaiting installation. Sealing the outside from the weather is critical, so that work will continue – repairing and/or replacing and then painting clapboards. Marshall’s donation of cypress planks will continue to be very useful to this task. In places, interior work on the structure will provide the clapboards with something to be attached to. Only a few other places need structural modifications or reinforcement before moving inside to start on building out the living space. The house has been gutted and is waiting patiently for efforts to begin (even if we ourselves lack patience). The current rainy weather has delayed even more efforts to get the back roof on and work on other parts of the exterior. Rose Haven has stood for 127 years on that property, so a couple of additional weeks and some more rain will probably not bother it much.
David Steckel, our project engineer, is working on repairing the windows, and we have lots of them. A magician for sure, we will henceforth call him Merlin. Having lots of windows will let in abundant bright light—something important to our population. In a future blog post, I’ll write more on how we plan to create a welcoming, secure, and healing interior space for our residents and retreat goers.
We welcome all visitors who take the time from their busy days to drop in and get caught up on events – truly we do. Those who work in nonprofit spaces are also evangelists for their mission, or they wouldn’t be involved in such an uncertain venture (see initial discussion on “progress” above). We are ready at the drop of a hat to hit the stop what we’re doing (at that moment) and yammer away at what we are doing and why.
Unseen or unplanned factors: What is not in our control
Of course, it is also often the case that little progress is visible to those not involved in ongoing efforts. Timing can often be everything. The need to change general contractors, or reapply for a building permit, for example, and the fact that every contractor and subcontractor in eastern North Carolina is 6-7 jobs deep due to the hurricane damage – these circumstances created a perfect storm of “no progress.”
Rose Haven is an old house and rehabbing old houses demands, besides patience and some risk, experience and unique skill sets. Rose Haven is also a small and functionally designed house and yet shot through with character (that’s why we love her). Sometimes I fantasize about pulling together all the people who have offered to help with the rehab and turn them into an army of ants to complete our 1400-square-foot house in a day – a modern day barn-raising (we have one of those too!). That is just a dream. The reality is that under his permit, Matt needs to have licensed and permitted (with proper insurance for their workers) subcontractors working on the house, as Matt does. There may be opportunities for some of Pamlico Rose’s staff or even volunteers to help out, but the lion’s share of the work will be done by those Matt brings to the task. Now, Merlin, I mean David, and I just prepared all of the clapboards Marshall donated for the next step in that project. Progress will continue, but not always visible to a passerby.
Our healing landscape offers a little more chance to see progress being made. I am out there daily, sometimes joined by folks like Greg and Kelly Smith, and Nancy Scoble, our garden whisperer. One can see the vision, like the hardscape we built or the shrubs and perennials we planted, start to take shape and begin to breathe life into our concept. Here, volunteers are welcomed and somedays hoped for. We see the gardens as a community space. We work in the mornings, before the day’s oven kicks into gear. Soon our raised beds will be completed by our “soon to be Eagle Scout” Lucas Wood and we will jump right into the cycle of planting, nurturing, harvesting, and starting all over. Unlike the house, the garden’s journey will follow the seasons and the sun, and the end will always be the next beginning.
We are often asked by those interested in helping: “What can I do?” Plenty, in fact.
First, bring patience. For those of us who come to work with the grand vision in mind, even those who only come when they can, patience is never easy to come by. Frustration with events and factors out of our control, does not help one be patient. Somebody must have patience; we choose all of you to help us with keeping us patient.
Second, donate resources, all kinds of resources. We have funds to further the rehabilitation down the road a bit once it starts, but, like all nonprofits, more is needed. Specific items include: an HVAC system; plumbing and electrical features; new appliances; paint, drywall, and more. Matt and his folks can make the building sturdy and solid but making it into a healing space is on us. The gardens are more labor intensive, so muscles and sweat and the joy of getting next to dirt are resources needed. Many have dropped by and donated plants and hardscape elements. We never ever turn down a plant, or a brick.
Third, promote awareness of the need to support at-risk female Veterans. When we open the doors and garden walkways to participants, they will be a part of our community. One of the foundations of our mission is the importance of community in creating meaningful change and healing those in need. This may involve helping female Veterans in recovery or investing an effort into making our neighborhoods beautiful and safe.
It may sound trite to say, “it’s the journey that keeps us going,” but it is true. Most days, Bella, my puppy, and I come to Rose Haven and the gardens and we can’t wait to get started on making progress. We leave dirty, sweaty, hot, and contented, knowing we indeed made progress. I am sure David, Greg, Kelly, and others who help out feel the same.
With every window completed and other tasks finished around our yard, we will get there. But until we do, there is always the journey.
— Robert Sands