After renting a space for 10 plus years our lease was up, and thanks to steady membership growth, the current space was too small for our needs. A few members were generous and provided us with a free loan to finance the initial purchase of a suitable property.
Even with the generosity of our financial leaders, broader financial commitment was needed to move the project further along and that required a plan which the membership needed to approve. Membership collectives can be a conservative bunch, and ours proved to be no exception. It took a few years from the initial purchase to present a detailed plan, and we needed to get a number of membership approvals as the project progressed.
I was treasurer at the time and I can still remember those meetings from the mid 90’s, like it was yesterday. Armed with cost projections, commitments to date, and a number of guesstimates to navigate the spreadsheet’s red cells, we presented the numbers to the membership. And the membership did their due diligence and asked the hard questions about whether a wealthy-businessman-deficient Shul like ours could really pull this off.
On more than one occasion during those meetings, I stated that although I couldn’t guarantee it, my experience on this and other communal projects made me confident that we would get the contributions and commitments to close the gaps. After the lively and sometime heated discussion, I was almost certain the motions would not pass. But time after time, the vote was nearly unanimous to move ahead.
We’ve been in the new building for over 15 years and the benefits of having our own space have been immeasurable. The nature of communal projects are such that there are usually budget gaps and a hop of faith is required. Although there’s no guarantee, once your officers and board believes you can cross the red cells, your membership won’t be far behind.
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