Surprised By Joy

I will confess that I have been feeling really grinchy about Christmas this year. The triple threat of Covid, the flu, and RSV has curtailed our plans to travel to see my family for Christmas, partially because we don’t want to bring anything to my 80something parents, partially because neither of us wants to get sick be in a hotel instead of being at home, and partially because there’s no guarantee that my sister who hosts Christmas wouldn’t get sick herself and thus cancel the point of the trip.

But on Tuesday afternoon I was surprised by joy.

Years ago I agreed to sit on the volunteer Board of Directors for a senior housing facility that my Episcopal parish and the Catholic parish in town co-founded and shared co-oversight for. It sounds very formal, but it was as simple as my church needed a new board member and I was available.

I really enjoyed the quarterly meetings with other people who strongly felt that senior citizens deserve  safe, clean, affordable housing, and the staff was a trove of information about the history of the organization.

But the HUD regulations got increasingly complicated and when it came time for the staff members to retire after decades of service, we realized that we collectively didn’t have the knowledge to hire the right people. Nor as a non-profit did we have the capital funds to do the major physical plant upgrades and replacements.

We looked into selling the facility to a management company and found one that specialized in buying and renewing non-profit housing, did our due diligence, and sold it a few years ago. The board invested the proceeds in a regional charitable foundation and established a new funding area focused on aging.

Part of the funding is awarded on a yearly cycle with the standard application process, and the other is a discretionary fund that some of the former board members advise. During the early Covid years we elected to merge all of that grant money into the broader fund to assist with the pandemic. But this year we decided to make the award decisions ourselves as we didn’t have any applications for the special fund.

So next week 6 non-profits helping senior citizens are going to get surprise checks right at the end of the year. We were all smiling so much once we thought about that. I’m so happy I am part of this group.

I think my heart grew a size bigger today. Joy be with you all. Here’s a song to celebrate: