Well first things first, in case it’s not just me feeling it I must address the ol’ elephant in the room → this blog post.. it’s a bit overdue.
You might at least be pleased to know that nothing being posted on here does not mean nothing has been going on. My only excuses feel irrelevant at the moment but I do want to be better about this and I assure you it’s not that I haven’t cared. If you didn’t even notice my absence in the blogosphere then nevermind. Either way, for everyone’s utmost convenience I’ve condensed the last 7 months into one single read! #yourewelcome
The Battles Behind Us: What you’ve missed…
As it happens the nonprofit, homeless-loving world is just not all rainbows and butterflies. Um yes a little heads up would have been nice but hey, live and learn.
Not long after I posted back in March, Austin Henderson (Director at ReWork Project) for several legitimate reasons decided to drop back to part time. Before Austin made his decision to go part-time, it had been no secret between us that it was time to take what we’d learned, recognize our strengths, and somehow streamline ReWork into a program that would more efficiently use our energy and resources. But with Austin’s new news coming all but simultaneously, we had to seriously consider just shutting the doors.
And so began a two month roller coaster. I won’t go into too much detail but God definitely did a number on me. Might seem silly to say but I think I came out of that mere two months a significantly different person, in a good way. Everything was in the air for what felt like forever as we brainstormed and talked through ideas for what a future ReWork might look like, discussed what we could or couldn’t handle with Austin not around as much, and ultimately sought God’s will for everything. All while trying to keep ReWork going as it was in the meantime.
There were many attempts at moving forward during this time but obstacles of all sizes just kept coming. As soon as one thing would get figured out, it would either immediately get un-figured out or a brand new obstacle would pop up. Things kept changing as God made it no less than obnoxiously crystal clear that He was the one running this show. And that I sure was not.
It didn’t take too embarrassingly long for me to realize that God running the show was actually the best news I could hope for. I slowly became okay with whatever God’s will was for the program and for me, but oh man I wanted to know. Like, now. (I mean helloooo urgent emotional roller coaster inside of me, people asking questions… could ya throw me a bone down here?!) Needless to say I guess it wouldn’t make sense for a perfect God to be early with anything, His timing is quite precise. So I learned to wait, and I learned to fight for truth and peace on the harder more frustrating days of waiting. And I learned, especially on the days I spent fighting, that God is faithful.
For whatever reason a decision time finally came and a meeting was called. I was prepped a few days beforehand as to what I should expect from it.
What’s great is that during this meeting an idea to improve our program was landed on and the decision was made to move forward. What’s ridiculous is that moving forward with ReWork Project was not what I had been prepped to expect, and in fact this meeting that finally got things moving again – had actually begun with a proposal to shut down.
Mind = Blown.
Well played, God… Well. Played.
Re-working ReWork: The story continues…
Our new and improved program which started coming together in July (though it took a hot minute to work some kinks out and really get going) consists of no longer doing custom items. There are many reasons behind this decision but ultimately we decided we would be more efficient coming up with five or so specific products at a time. In addition, we’re only taking 6-7 wood-workers into our program at any one time in order to require dedicated hours of them and have space for each person to work. This also better enables us to form real and intentional friendships with everyone and them with each other. We still have lunch on Fridays as before, but it’s more like a family meal than a chaotic cafeteria. In other words, it’s better. :)
Call me biased but right now in my personal opinion, things are kind of awesome. Not to be confused with “perfect” or anything near it but awesome nonetheless. For starters, we’ve got a pretty great group. They show up, they listen and are eager to learn, and they work hard. It’s been fun for all of us watching the products get better and better as each worker gets the hang of it and builds a little quicker, with less help, and with less mess ups and redo’s. We’ve got people with no previous experience already building multiple products completely on their own. Exciting stuff, folks!
On top of that, making five specific products has been much easier on Austin and I to manage and has made sales better and more consistent than ever which benefits our workers. Finding a little success with this has been a great feeling and we only hope to get better at it.
Right now we’re selling wooden swings, bean bag tosses (cornhole) in regulation and tailgate sizes, picnic tables, giant tower game (aka giant jenga), and birdhouses. Prices consist of the material costs plus a dignified wage and each worker right now can build or is learning to build two to three of the products. Check us out and tell your friends! (reworkproject.org/products)
Adventure to come…
I guess one person’s “adventure” can be another person’s “terrifying life experience” but let’s choose to lean towards adventure with this. To be straight, there are some big obstacles in the very near future that are keeping it a bit up in the air. And by “a bit” I mean “more than a bit” and that we’re going to need your help. On the hopeful side – not like it’s our first time battling unlikely odds, right? I mean the day things become simple around here I suppose I’ll have cause for concern. #thingswecanlaughabout
I hate to be cliché or predictable and pull the classic “with God all things are possible” moment, but hey – truth is truth! I cannot deny what is. God is God and He’s going to do what He wants with ReWork Project and with me and with everyone involved. And that’s more than okay because He’s just good! He probably giggles at the fact that I’m calling anything a “big obstacle.” Fact is, if the day comes when ReWork must shut its doors it won’t be because the obstacles were too big for Him to pull us through. I don’t know about you but that’s a relief to me.
With that knowledge I will keep moving forward until it’s time to stop and I will rest in the truth that my God is loving and good and knows things that I don’t know. For now, things are exciting and I’m grateful for that. I’m enjoying what we’ve got and working hard to keep it up and always be improving. I hope to do better in keeping everyone updated on our status in the upcoming weeks or months and especially will let you know of ways you can help ReWork Project look more alive very very soon! Stay tuned, we are going to need you!
More specifics on these obstacles to come, but if you’re ready for details now feel free to ask questions about anything! (email@example.com)
Last thing – since many of you took an interest in Anthony after my last blog update, I thought I’d give you the 411 on how he’s doing now.
In short, dude is on fire.
He got into an RV shortly after I last wrote about him and has faithfully been paying his rent, but he absolutely did not stop there. He also got involved with a community group from my church (New City Austin) that meets on Wednesday nights. I love reminding him how awesome he is for that because like a lot of us, it’s not easy for him to throw himself into a social atmosphere with total strangers. It takes him a while to warm up. It’s no less than just an awesome choice he made for himself. But he didn’t stop there either! He decided for the first time since the 80’s that he needed to get his driver’s license. He spent a couple weeks letting people quiz him on the practice written portion, which he easily passed before going on to pass the driving portion also. Through a friend he was able to get a car shortly after. He lives nearby me and I used to pick him up on Wednesday evenings for group; now, he picks me up. Yep the tables have turned.
It’s been encouraging to know that God can change a person so much and a privilege to get to watch. Keep praying for him as he continues to get comfortable in his new life!
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