We are blessed to worship on a campus embedded in a beautiful, natural surrounding. Famous lapsed Unitarian Henry David Thoreau celebrated natural settings in his classic “Walden,” in which he wrote of unexplored forests and meadows as the “tonic of wildness.” Doesn’t it just relax your soul to watch the golden autumn leaves waving and fluttering down through the windows of the Sanctuary during services? Don’t you feel a little thrill when Rev. David Miller pauses his sermon for a fox wandering by? But there is more. If you haven’t already done so, wander some of the paths on our forested 11-acre campus, and spend some quiet time in our Memorial Grove. I find peace in it.
Wildness brings challenges, too. As you know, the windstorm that blew through last May caused over $40,000 of tree damage. With safety as our top priority, Roofapalooza funding allowed us to take many damaged trees down, although you may notice that we’re deliberately leaving some tree trunks behind, as wildlife habitat. There are some areas where we want to control the wildness to achieve a certain look or function. Growing shrubs and trees need periodic pruning, paths through the woods need to be maintained, and garden beds and landscaping need weeding. The lawn in front of the Program Building needs work, too.
We do great spiritual work at UUCF, but last year nature dramatically reminded us that the buildings that support our many ministries require maintenance. You really stepped up with Roofapalooza and allowed us to address the most urgent capital needs: replacing the Sanctuary roof, remediating mold and finishing two bathrooms. In the spirit of full disclosure, a maintenance backlog remains behind the Roofapalooza list. For example, our sprawling campus employs 19 separate heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, 10 of which are approaching or past their service life and will need to be replaced. Just like most houses, our gutters need cleaning and some rooms need a deep cleaning or a fresh coat of paint.
These tasks are beyond the scope of work of the contractors we have hired to do the cleaning and mowing, and the operational budget doesn’t support all the needed arborists, gardeners, cleaners, handypersons and painters. So, I’m writing to invite you to contribute some “sweat equity.” We have valuable skills and energy within our congregation. If you use our campus on Sundays or any other time, please consider giving some of your time and talents to spiff up UUCF a couple times a year. Benefits include: less treasure needed to pay contractors, and more for programs; a greater feeling of investment in our spiritual home; having fun working with our friends; and developing our sense of community. Anyone who has worked on Rebuilding Together will back me up on that. The Property Stewardship Council is currently working with the Coordinating Team to define and prioritize the maintenance needs, and we are also open to your input. More to come …