Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gilbert House Annual Appeal

Gilbert House Catholic Worker Annual Newsletter and Funding Appeal

15 October 2009—Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

This past year has been absolutely awesome! We have been blessed in so many ways during 2009, and we have lots of news to share, though we’ll just stick to the highlights--mostly just the really amazing stuff.

We now have only sixteen thousand dollars in principal left on our hundred-year-old farm house which we are working hard towards paying off over this next year. This news is great on the one hand because when we reconcile our home loan, we will save nearly sixty thousand dollars in interest and, subsequently, be able to address some much needed repairs on the house that the former owner was unwilling or unable to do. It will also provide us with the foundation we need to buy a second house next door for multiple long-term guests and additional community members--something we not only need in this area, but that we are anxious to see to fruition.

We are so grateful for the home that we share, thanks be to GOD, and look forward to the day when we will have more room and resources to share with others.

Our garden blew a gasket this past summer, and started bearing its young in the yard (which was really nice in some ways—it certainly cut down on our mowing chores). We grew so much surplus of such a wide variety of vegetables that we were actually turned away at the local food pantry (in all, we were able to give somewhere between five- and six-hundred pounds of produce to WestCap), and when they could take no more, we started calling friends, neighbors and family.

Our autumn harvest has been excellent. What wasn’t given away to those in need and to friends of the house has been eaten up or bottled and put away for the long winter, and we hope to share it still. We have two farmers and three neighbors who regularly give us too many apples for sanity—all of which have been made into pies, crisps, ciders, and jellies...or sauced, buttered and bottled. Mr. Erickson, from Rumar Farm over in Wilson, thinks it’s wonderful that he can split his rotting apples betwixt the chickens and us “girls” and that we’ll return next Spring with a “couple-or-three” bottles of wine for him.

We are currently working on another batch of the homemade "Petta" Merlot for the American Chesterton Society’s annual conference next summer, when Chestertonians from all over the world will be able to share in the age old tradition of hospitality of “beer and beef.” Every year Mary Alice claims that G.K. Chesterton, “that fat, long-winded dead man, took our heat away," because of the personal expense of making gallons and gallons of wine, but it always manages to work out anyway. Poor G.K. (for next year’s conference, I’m shooting for eighty gallons, just so that we have a store…just don’t tell Mary Alice.)

We have printed many of Mary Alice's card designs for sale and for gifting this year, hoping to show them at craft fairs and shops in the area; she will also be volunteering at John the Baptist parish’s annual Harvest Festival again (31 Oct.), where she hopes to share her artistry once again. Miki has been creating some very intricate scrapbook albums in addition to getting started on yet another huge new batch of altar linens and vestments for her “winter months” project; she will also be spending part of the winter putting together some "family history" scrapbooks for the American Chesterton Society that Ann Petta asked her to make. Friends of the house flit in and out with every imaginable project of their own, and it all keeps us busy and productive.

We have an eighteen-year-old girl who plans on living with us for the next year or more whilst she finishes high school and then enrolls in classes to become a licensed massage therapist; she plans on coming to stay in January and we are looking forward to having her here and getting the opportunity to support her desire to graduate and start her adult life.

Miki has taken on an outside job, part-time, with a temp agency to help bolster our income and our ability to aid the people who come to us looking for help. What cash we have brought into the house usually goes right back out the door, either on house necessities, or given freely to those who need it more than we do in any given moment--a thing that is becoming more and more common as the economy flounders and more of our neighbors lose their jobs.

And, now on to the really bad news: For the past three years we have been trying to get our roof fixed. The roofer we previously had made a bad situation worse, and we now have a ruined ceiling in the dining room that has grown a lovely community of mold. It’s going to cost $20,000.00 to fix, and we are looking forward to paying off the house so that we can do this without incurring a huge debt. We would much rather invest such a large amount of currency on "promiscuous philanthropy," but if the house is to remain standing, we have no choice.

For all of those who have been to the house to help with our many projects this past year, we offer you our heartfelt thanks because without you nothing would be as rewarding. For those people who have donated to the house and helped us to provide assistance to others in our community, there are no words to express our appreciation for you and the blessing that you are! For those of you who pray for us, we offer our own prayers for you and yours in return.

If you can help us with any of our current financial needs, we are humbled and grateful for your support, and we thank you now. If you’d like to take a look at our other house needs, photos of this year’s garden, or would just like more information on what we do and why, please take a look at our house blog at: . May our Lord bless you all, and keep you safe, this coming year!

Please remember that in keeping with Catholic Worker tradition we are not tax exempt and that we are decidedly so, as our co-founders have asked us to be. In that spirit, we ask our friends to give generously out of their abundance at a personal sacrifice, never asking for Caesar to acknowledge us with a tax credit for our gifts, but only that the GOD who knows their hearts acknowledge them as He will. So long as the poor are taxed, so will we be with them.

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