My daughter’s 4H group has been meeting at a local township hall for 75 years and the hall has been made available to our group for free all of those 75 years. Recently, leadership at the hall changed. This is the third year my daughter has participated in this group, and in that time I’ve never seen the kids leave the hall a mess. Chairs and tables are always put away. Pins and threads are picked up at the end of sewing class. After a gardening event, all dirt was removed from the floors. The kids pick up and sweep every time.
A few weeks ago we were told to take off our shoes before entering the main room as it had recently been deep cleaned. We’ve complied with that request, and even had our last monthly meeting in the entry area to avoid annoying the hall management with any stray snow sludge. Now we’re being bumped off the schedule every time someone with money in hand wants the hall at a time when we’re scheduled to be there. Last night’s sewing class and next week’s sewing class were cancelled, as well as our April monthly meeting. I’ve warned my daughter that we’ll need to work on her project at home as I think it likely that we won’t have many more opportunities to have sewing class.
Some might ask, “If you can sew and have a machine, why is she learning from someone else anyway?”. My daughter learns more readily from other teachers in the area of sewing and other needle arts. Going to class also gives her time to see friends. They chat while they work, making it all the more enjoyable.
You might wonder why we don’t just offer to pay for our time in the hall. We can’t afford it. The group’s main source of income is a pop stand at the fairgrounds, open one week a year. The money goes to pay for pizza twice a year for the kids, it sometimes helps to pay for group outings, and helps pay for ride tickets one night of the fair. That accounts for half or less of the pop stand profits. The rest of the money goes for charitable projects. Last December the group made blankets for a local charity benefiting children, and we also sewed several pillowcases to donate to our local shelter house. A local quilt shop donated some of the pillowcase material, and were tickled to see pictures of the kids sewing away and knowing that their shop’s donation kept moving forward. We’ve also sent cards to our troops several times, donated money to the local animal shelter for dog food, planted flowers in the city, etc. This is a non-profit organization.
A few times a year, instructors from the community will offer a one day class and they usually charge a fee, but our needlework instructors are volunteers whose children grew up and left the program several years ago.
Why on earth, after 75 years in agreement, would management suddenly be hostile toward us? (Their communications with our current leader keep getting edgier.) My guess is greed. If the hot topic of their last township hall meeting was the lack of payment for the hall and we’re having our standing schedule knocked out from under us left and right for paying customers, there is no other conclusion to reach. They want cash. Forget 75 years of partnership. Forget the fact that these kids are learning skills to use their whole lives and learning to use those skills to help others as they go. You can’t put that on a balance sheet. Screw the kids and fork over the cash.