For those who have already posted, we have deleted any duplicate feedback. Appreciate all of you who are weighing in!
This is the draft of our mission statement from the board and staff work on strategic planning and growth. We know mission statements are meant to be clear, concise and provide a strong sense of direction and value. We also know we will be providing a legacy statement regarding our founding, history and our values. Will you please give us some feedback on our mission statement by leaving a comment below? Thank you.
For those who have already posted, we have deleted any duplicate feedback. Appreciate all of you who are weighing in!
Our new volunteer program is called Ferry Beach Keepers! In order to become a Beach Keeper, you need to be either a sustaining donor or a donor of at least $180 a year as well as be a member of Ferry Beach and take the Beach Keeper training. (2-3 hours).
We will be offering volunteer training this summer and will have a couple of events for current Beach Keepers announced in the spring. Our next newsletter will include more details of those events.
To become a Ferry Beach Keeper, please go to the website and fill out the application. Other materials are also available there about the volunteer program. We are looking for Beach Keepers with a variety of skills: online database management, fundraising, special event coordination, store and office work (in summer and if local, in spring season) and more. There are many opportunities!
Why a membership fee?
Many of you know that Ferry Beach is a 501c3 organization. As a not for profit organization, we have some obligations we must meet and maintain. One is in the area of governance. There are a couple of ways that not for profit organizations form and then practice governance. Some not for profits are organized with a board only. Hospitals, major social service agencies, and arts organizations are some examples. Many times, these are not for profits that provide a service for their clients who may or may not be able to provide input regarding governance. A good example might be an organization focused on child abuse who’s clients are young children or a drug and alcohol program who’s clients are still in the throes of their recovery. By the IRS rules, not for profit organizations must have a board of directors, which serves in the role of governance and policy-making. But not all 501c3 organizations have members.
Not for profit organizations without members are said to have boards, which are considered “self perpetuating” because there are no members who vote on board nominations. The board development committee puts forth a slate of officers and the board members vote on that slate. (Some organizations of this type will reach out to their former clients and include them in the board development process or hold slots for them on the board.)
Membership organizations like The Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, and Ferry Beach, have a board but also have members who are responsible for voting in the board whenever the term of the board has ended. For Ferry Beach, we have an annual meeting at which the members vote for the board nominees and officers.
By our status as a 501c3 not for profit organization, our members play a critical role in governance. By our by-laws, it is our members who vote in the new board. Membership is built into the very foundation upon which our not for profit status is granted by the IRS.
We wouldn’t be here without members. They don’t just pay their membership fee and walk away—or at least we hope they don’t. They continue to show us every month (Sustaining donors) how much this place by the ocean means to them. They show up early to plant dune grass and stay late to put address labels on thank you letters (Beach Keepers). We have very proud grandparents, parents and children (Life Members) that always hold a spot in their heart for Ferry Beach. I urge you to think about what you can do to help Ferry Beach not just when you’re here but when you’re not. Do you have a talent you’d like to help volunteer? Do you want to put a fundraiser but aren’t sure how to? When you think about where to have your family reunion or wedding—why not here? Why not now?
We appreciate you and your pride in Ferry Beach. We want this place, as much as you do, to be around for another 100 years—for our grandkid’s grandkids. Let’s make I happen. Thanks for being a member.
If you have visited Ferry Beach in the last three years you know we have added Morris Cottage, the Metz cabins and Claflin Cottage to our summer rentals. This summer, the home formerly owned by Ray Hopkins, will also be available. With four bedrooms, two of which are ADA and two that are accessible, these private bedroom/private bathroom combinations have been in high demand.
To be more family friendly has been a request from a number of people who visit Ferry Beach as well. This is very important to us, and we’re listening, we have restructured our dorm room pricing this year. All of our rooms will now be charged per night and not per person. If there is room for 4 persons to sleep, the room will be set at one price. No longer will the charges for rooms be based on the number and ages of persons occupying the rooms. This should result in a significant savings for many families.
This changed our pricing for some rooms slightly. If two people want to share a room, they will be able to do so, however, Ferry Beach will not split the room charge. That will be up to the person who initially reserves the room. We’re excited to offer new small rooms in Rowland for people who do not want to share a dorm room.
Why this change? (If you despise details and transparency, stop reading here). As a retreat and conference center with a number of different types of room rentals (Queen, double bunks, private, etc.) we rely on hoteling software, as opposed to conferencing software, to help us book rooms. Most hotels charge one price for rooms based upon double occupancy. Our software is incapable of doing everything that we want it to do and we are not able financially, to purchase customized software. With this change, we hope to make registration much smoother for our most important people—YOU!
Even MORE clarity and transparency: Membership fees will be assessed for everyone who registers for a conference (in Part 2 we’ll address the importance of members). We will also begin to charge a commuter fee that includes the conference fee for everyone who comes to a conference but stays off campus. This fee will be slightly higher than the per day conference fee that people staying on campus pay and will include lunch at a discounted rate from the a la carte menu for lunch.
Really in the weeds: Some of you are aware that we are making progress on a debt of about $900,000 and deferred maintenance of another million or so. We have replaced roofs, shored up porches, building pilings and floors and we still have much more to go. By addressing our summer conference challenges, we hope to increase our revenue without adding additional fees. We know that by changing room fees, families will pay less to stay at Ferry Beach and some single adults may pay a little bit more. In reviewing our registrations, we believe that most people who come by themselves do share a room with someone they know. Who wouldn’t want to stay with a friend and share the experience of Ferry Beach?
Next up: Part 2: Membership!
In the stair-step line of children in the Polaroid, the fourth boy in line, probably not much more than six years old wears a red suit coat jacket and short pants. The three other boys, ahead of he and I in the line, are wearing brown or black jackets. All the girls are wearing dresses. We are in my grandma’s back yard, a dozen cousins lined up with big smiles, our parents just off camera.
The boy in the red jacket was my cousin Brian. A few years younger than I, Brian loved to play hide and seek with the girls at Nanna’s house. In college, when I came out to my family, Brian sent me a note of solidarity and still later, his own coming out letter. He was beautiful. At a lean six foot with deep brown smiling eyes and dark brown hair, he turned many heads. He went to college in Massachusetts in theater and toured with a New York company for a few years. When he got sick he was living in D.C. His death left a hole in our family.
Tonight I listen to the men on the beach at the GAYLA conference recite the names of the men who had come to this conference many years ago and lost their lives, many to AIDS. In those days young men received their diagnosis and died within the same year, or two, like Brian.
Brian and I carved the unwelcome rainbow into our large extended Irish Catholic family. A drum beat processes the men to the beach from the hemlocks where they gather. There are seventy-five or so men of all ages, some now bent with age, younger men who came out long after people started living with AIDS, and many others.
In this ritual we bear witness to the men we knew who have made their transition, some who were born princesses, some who only later knew who they were, some who struggled all of their lives to be accepted. We are all there, on the beach, feeling the wind in our hair and listening to the cadence of the low tide, remembering.
"If here you have found freedom
take it with you into the world.
If you have found comfort,
go and share it with others.
If you have dreamed dreams,
help one another,
that they may come true!
If you have known love,
give some back...." (Lauralyn Bellamy from Singing the Living Tradition)
In the comments below, please share your joys and concerns this Holiday Season.
“I am open and I am willing
To be hopeless would seem so strange
It dishonors those who go before us
So lift me up to the light of change.”
(“I Am Willing,” Holly Near)
The last of the Ferry Beach flags have been taken down and the water drained from the pipes underneath Rowland, Quillen and Underwood. The rocking chairs on the porches will be put into their respective buildings and the benches in the Grove into the Rose Pavillion. The trunks of trees rising high up in the Grove stand out in this now almost leafless landscape here in the semi deciduous hemlock forests of southern Maine.
It is time for our tiny staff to catch its collective breath and finish putting all of the details into the descriptions of our 2014 Summer Conference season while also making sure we have the campus tightened down for the coming winter. The cyclical changes of Ferry Beach occur like clockwork and there is little energy expended in hastening its delay. Volunteers, staff and visitors sigh that another year is passing but we know that it must.
While this seasonal change has become routine, I am reminded of the dynamic nature of Universalism and Ferry Beach’s place as a cornerstone in that movement. Katharine Sutton and Robert Needham describe the universalist movement’s ability to incorporate change as remarkable: In its day, the “new platform was so liberal as to be truly amazing… because a few had courage, the whole line moved up.”
Quillen Shinn, according to his biographers, saw Ferry Beach as a place to attract people to this dynamic message of universal salvation. According to one: “It is the liberal and progressive quality inherent in its doctrine, (Universalism) which they (John Murray, Hosea Ballou and Shinn), helped to establish, that not only keeps it there, (in the vanguard of religious life) but makes it embrace today the most exciting ventures of our time.” Clarence Skinner called universalism the “religion for greatness.”
Greatness and courage to help the whole line move up: its founders weren’t looking for a passive place to vacation, but creating a dynamic community of seekers. Not only was this a place for personal transformation, but also a safe place to explore how to create global transformation informed by Universalism.
In 1940, it was the challenge of Nazi-ism that brought reasoned men and women to Ferry Beach for discussion that attendees might “receive an impulse to make the results of this week extend throughout the following year and receive as much assistance as possible in obeying that impulse.” Reverend Frederic Perkins chided the group to rejuvenate our individual “passion for democracy as a radiant spiritual adventure.” For three days, men and women met to discuss how to address the rise of Nazi Germany and by the end of the Institute had created a list of organizations in which to do outreach when they went back to their own congregations, cities and communities. Of course they played too. Included in the materials was a song list, which included “Earle Dolphin on the piano.”
As I read through the materials from Bill Metz’s collection, given to me by his daughter Elizabeth McNab, I thought about all of the ways that Ferry Beach could be in service to the larger world. In 1940 it was Nazi-ism and the concerns for another world war. In 2013-14 it might be the Middle East, Darfur, Somalia, the Phillipines, global warming, nuclear proliferation, the gas pipeline, health care reform, a working wage, LGBTQ workplace discrimination, domestic violence or so many other issues that face us as a world community and as individuals.
As a not for profit organization, Ferry Beach has the potential to remember those who have gone before us, those who have died fighting for the very things we take for granted. There is so much that we can be as a collection of small communities each week, united under the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism. We have the potential to continue to honor our personal transformations as well as community wide transformations that lift us all up, in ways that honor each other, our selves and our founders.
The medium places her hand on the raging woman’s head, “You have to remember; you have to remember! You told me what you wanted for your life, for your children’s lives, you must fight for yourself from the inside.”
It is the only redemptive scene in the movie in so many ways. I hate scary movies for the most part and this one is just a different version of the Exorcist. But redemption is something I can get behind -- especially the kind in which someone from the outside is reminding someone else of their greatness, of their goodness.
We all need those reminders from time to time when the world gets us down and we feel a little overwhelmed by the small things that have piled up. Or, perhaps we are facing something monumental and for a moment we have forgotten that we can get through it when we breathe and remember who we really are.
Walking around Ferry Beach I meet many people who have experienced this place as a healing one: a place of hope, a place of redemption, a place of personal growth. They seem to understand that Ferry Beach doesn’t belong to them, and yet, they are willing to do what it takes to make it better: plant the flowers, pull weeds, pick up trash, write a personal check, volunteer for a project.
Sometimes, when I am weary, I think of the volunteers, the people who put flowers in the vases in the dining hall just because they want to. Or the people this winter who asked for a “booster” packet so they can share the magic of Ferry Beach with their church. They didn’t ask for anything in return, but what they get back is much greater.
When people have a gift they want to share, whether it’s buying lights for the auditorium or organizing others to buy chairs they share that gift. They have some extra cash and they believe in the spiritual dictum about tithing to your spiritual home. They are motivated from the inside. They remember who they are.
In the movie, the medium is able to help the woman who has been taken over by demons fight them off. With her hand on her head, she replays the memory of a happier time to the woman struggling to fight off that, which does not serve her.
When you walk around Ferry Beach, do you remember who you really are? Do the gifts that you have inside of you burst forth? Are you willing to share them?
Have you started your garden this year? Mine is just starting to take shape, in a new corner of the yard, plied with additional organic matter to raise the bed. It is orderly and beautiful and appeals to the parts of me, and particularly my partner, that like neatness and order.
But I know the truth about gardens, the truth that I know she doesn’t like to acknowledge: Once things grow, the garden gets messy. The tomato vines move over into the pepper plant’s space, the basil grows tall and starts to choke out the marigolds living somewhere below. The thyme, a low grower, might be overshadowed by the dill that continues to reach its spiny little leaves upward toward the sun. A vine heavy with fruit is going to fall over and a squirrel might pick off a few tomatoes and leave them in the patch of parsley. Weeds will grow, even after my best attempt at shielding the garden from them with mulch and newspaper. By the end of the summer some things will move from flower to fruit to seeds – large brown heads of seeds, dried up, and scattered on the ground assure that in the spring, left untouched by the gardener, a cacophony of volunteer plants will reign.
The ecosystem, which looks so neat and orderly right now with its mulched brown paths and clear margins will get blurry by the end of the summer. I know this. No matter how many hours I think I can spend in the garden trying to control its wild and unbridled growth, I know this. No matter how much I assure my partner that I will “take care” of the garden, I know this. Secretly, it is what I love best about the garden – its wildness and its unpredictability. The weather, the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, each seed and its potential, insects and me: we are all players in this community.
The booklet of Ferry Beach conference offerings is neat with its beautiful photographs and careful layout, each page more beckoning than the next. Schedules, supply lists, staff lists, menus are all neatly tucked into specific folders, waiting. Templates for the Tidings daily newsletter are being created, and summer staff has been hired. Many people have registered and are making their plans to take off work and travel to Ferry Beach. Everyone is coming with their own expectations of the way the conference will go, each of us with our own diverse set of ideas.
And then we’ll meet at the beginning of our conference week and create community. The neatness of the schedules will give way to the fog or rain. The people who couldn’t come, or the burdens and joys brought by others, will influence our community. We’ll be here, making our way, contributing our specialness to the ecosystem of the conference. Our synergy will create community and it will be perfect in its own unique wildness and unpredictability. And most of us, (some secretly) will love it. We’ll allow our faith in our intentions as a group of people to reign, to teach us about diversity, love, co-creation, and living in the present moment. And we will celebrate our harvest!
Gun control legislation failed, the sea is rising, the middle East continues to explode, online you can learn how to make a bomb and now, even a pistol that shoots. We have the highest murder rate in the civilized world, we shoot each other as a way to solve conflict and we still kill people for killing other people. Last week in a meeting, with derision, I was chided for being an optimist: “You believe the world can be a better place don’t you?”
As a person of faith, how can I believe otherwise?
At that thought, Fox News, the Westboro Baptist Church and others who use their faith as judge and jury, condemning those of us who think differently from them come to mind.
Why Universalism? Because it “throbs with hope.” What is faith but a belief in something larger than myself, an expansion of ideas or thoughts when I am caught in the smallness of my humanity?
The trees are leafing out, it seemed to happen overnight. The daffodils are up; the azalea bushes are bursting with color. The underneath of the world is greening. I can’t hold onto despair while the birds are chirping, can you?
Ferry Beach Executive Director, Cathy Stackpole