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To make the party complete

Keri Sutter Executive Director

Keri Sutter,
Executive Director

Recently I gave a speech to my Toastmasters club.  It was on the topic of friendship.  The speech pointed out that we are all connected on a very deep level.  What hurts one of us, hurts us all.  What helps one of us, helps us all.  That, without each other, we are not complete.  As  Frederick Buechner says, “Here is your life.  You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”

Hmm.  “…the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”  Without each one of us.  And the implication is that we can’t really party until every one of us is living a happy, healthy life.  Until each one of us is encouraged to live our lives to the fullest.  Until each one of us is encouraged to grow into the people we were created to be.

I think of this as I watch Surgite’s clients struggle with the financial limitations imposed by the recession.  The recession we’ve been told is over.  Let me tell you, it isn’t.  There’s a delay between the time the first people feel the effects of a recession, and the time it hits the churches and nursing homes.  This trickle-down effect is such that Surgite’s clients may (may) have reached bottom at the beginning of 2011.  If they’re lucky.  If rising gas prices, food prices, and utility costs, don’t cause further cut-backs.

Yet the activity directors and choir directors and worship leaders and preschool directors struggle on.  They struggle to provide the best for their clients and parishioners, with fewer and fewer resources on which to draw.

The amazing thing is that they do.  These people work miracles.  Every day they go back into their jobs, determined to make each person feel as though the party wouldn’t have been complete without them.

There is a church that has not been able to afford new music for the choir for 10 years.  Sure, the old anthems are very meaningful.  But there are also new anthems that have been composed, and we are all diminished when we cannot experience that new music.  In addition, the composers have to work a day job, because they can’t sell enough music to earn a living at it.  When they get home from their day jobs, they’re tired.  It’s harder to compose, so we see less music.  How many of us are diminished because even one composer cannot create the music God put in her head?

In the nursing homes and Alzheimer’s facilities, activity directors’ budgets have been cut again and again.  Some can no longer afford to pay for any live entertainment for their residents.  Oh, they have a nice collection of videotapes and DVD’s.  But there’s nothing quite like live entertainment.  We who perform, bring fresh energy to the residents – and an ear to listen to their stories.  They can’t get that from a videotape.  But the performers can’t do it for free, unless they have day jobs.  Performers with day jobs are not as available for the residents.  The residents lose, and so do the performers, because we are not there to hear their stories and celebrate their lives.  We are not there to reassure them that their lives have meaning and significance.  I am not saying the staff do not do their very best, please do not think I am.  These people are working miracles with no resources.  But it does make a difference to the resident if the stranger or newcomer listens; if one more person validates their lives.

The situations in the preschools and schools are similar.  The students have no opportunity to learn in a different way when the budget cannot include art, music, or dance.  And their potential is diminished.  What could they have become, had the right inspiration come at the right time?

What’s the solution?  I don’t know.  Resources are limited.  We are all struggling to work with what we have.  But if even one of us cannot grow into the person we were born to be, we are all less than we could be.



Site last updated 9/27/11