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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Closing the Doors

Dear friends and supporters:

I wanted to share with you what happened yesterday at 5:30 pm – 30 minutes before we closed our doors at Generations Together's preschool campus.

Our doorbell rang and I found standing at the door, a tall pleasant looking gentleman who introduced himself as Pastor Rudy Bond. We sat down in my office as the last minutes of the day and our hopes for keeping GT open ticked away.

We talked about many things. He listened to me describe out 2 ½ year struggle to find a home and find funding. We talked about ministries and doing the right thing because its right, not because its easy.

He encouraged me not to lose hope and added that God does things in his own way and for his own reasons. We shared experiences in working with ministries and organizations and people and I found a kindred spirit in Bishop Bond. He was a great comfort to me and as the clock struck six, Pastor Bond led several of us in a prayer for courage and guidance. As he left, he gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him when he got back on Monday or Tuesday and things had settled.

I really didn’t realize what had happened nor had it register what he’d been saying to me until this morning as I was sitting in church. I think I may have had a visitation from the very angel I’d been praying for all week and typically, I didn't recognize it. Last night I was miserable and in despair.

Today I have renewed hope. There’s no sense to it by any standard known to the sensible world, but I do have hope…

We were worried about whether or not we’d be able to get all our things out of the Cornerstone property in time. Their treasure had threatened to padlock the place on the first. Everybody’s sick. I have the flu. Paula our bookkeeper is recovering from surgery and may have pneumonia. Sherry, our child care director's father died Saturday. I didn’t think we could do it. No one from the owner group would return my calls. Dianna Wilkerson, however, called them up and by some miracle, they extended our time to get our things out by a week. So Tuesday we’ll start shutting everything down, but till then everyone can rest and recoup. That was a blessing I didn’t think we’d get. (It also buys us a little more time – but I’m not going to think about that right now…).

Till then, we’ll do a shutdown and reorganization plan. We might just be able to keep the program going for a while if we can find space somewhere. If we can figure out a way to run with a positive cash flow, we can start paying off our creditors at least. Our nursery is shutting down over the next few weeks. It’s very hard to find infant care, so everyone’s struggling and OSLC is letting our babies stay long enough to find them new day care. God bless them for that.

We might have to become Generation Alone, but that may be what we have to do for now.

Friday, I received a call from a gentleman who offered to give us $5000. I drove up to his place to get it and couldn’t find them. The company has a huge yellow sign right beside the North Loop. I’ve seen it dozens of times, but for some reason I kept driving past it without seeing it. I called them twice and passed by the place about 6 times. By the time I got there, this lovely gentleman had decided to add another $1000 to the check. Maybe God was stalling me – I don’t know. It was one of the stranger things that has happened to me this week and that's saying something.

The money, while not enough to make an offer to Cornerstone, will help us reorganize the adult program and maybe keep that going a bit longer and pay some bills we absolutely have to pay.

I have to tell you, our parents have been so supportive. I’m supposed to call about half of them this weekend if we’re able to stay open. Teachers too! Of course, we can’t (barring something really HUGE), but most have said they’ll be back if we reopen. All of my teachers will come back in a heartbeat if we call them and tell them we’re reopening.

The telling thing to me was when I went into their rooms at the end of the day on Friday. Every room was neat and clean as though it would be open again next week. I’ve seen organizations shut down and time and again I see bitter and angry staff just trash the place, carry off the equipment and basically loot the organization. There has not been a hint of that. Every one of them has been encouraging and really lifted me up when I was down. I stand in awe of them. Instead of being angry at losing their jobs, they were worrying about me. Instead of trying to get every nickel they could out of us, they came to work like it was a regular week, knowing we probably wouldn’t be able to pay them any time soon.

God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. I’ll keep you posted as we discover what wonders he has for us next.

Thank you all for your prayers and for your constant support.

Tom King

Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the
person doing it. - Chinese proverb

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A George Bailey Moment

It is Christmas and I'm having my George Bailey at the bridge moment.

As most of you that read regularly know, I'm director of an intergenerational day care center called Generations Together . It's a wonderful place. We have the best teachers we've ever had, our children and seniors are happy and well-cared for. We've been asked to be a part of a new barrier-free housing initiative. A new transit initiative we were part of has kicked off and is going great guns. We just received a major pledge toward our building campaign and have hope of another large contribution in January. We have a group of investors forming to purchase the building for us that we need to move into. We were going to triple our child care space, quadruple our infant care space and more than double our senior program space.

But we've run out of time. There will be a meeting on Saturday to decide our fate. We may very well be forced to close our doors. It will mean that many of our seniors will no longer be able to live at home, but be forced to go to nursing homes. It means that Tyler's most respected nursery program will close (we have people call us to reserve a spot when they are just thinking about becoming pregnant). It means our extensive advocacy work for seniors, people with disabilities and low income families will end. It means 20 teachers will be put out of work at Christmas. It means the 80 families on our waiting list for placement in our nursing program will not have a place to put their babies.

I ask for your prayers right now that the owners of our building will give us just 60 more days to get our investor group together and to purchase the building.

As someone wise told me yesterday, "....GOD is in the deal.... No one knows why it took so long to get to this place with this exact set of people involved, but it did and it’s all part of the plan."

Thank you all for your support and for your prayers and good wishes.

Looking for a Christmas miracle!


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Devil and the Holistic Encyclopedia

There was a brief controversy over the past couple of days about an article on the Internet-based Wikipedia on-line encyclopedia over an article that accused a prominent Democrat and journalist of being involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Apparently the article was part of some sort of office practical joke. The folks at Wikipedia didn't catch it and left it up for several months to the horror of the journalist in question. The author of the prank fessed up and lost his job over it. Wikipedia as a result of the incident has come under fire for allowing uncredited postings to be made to the encyclopedia's article database. The Wiki folks have, over the years, built up a carefully crafted community of information junkies who tirelessly scour the world for bits of information about anything and everything. Till now, the Wiki volunteers have policed themselves and there is, of course, some resistance to changing what has been an arguably successful method of collecting up to the minute data. Some of their articles are updated within minutes of a major event, the death of a public figure or the publication of some new bit of history, archeology or pop culture arcania. All in all it's been a successful experiment so far despite the misinformation that's bedeviled the site more often than the Wiki's would like to talk about. The concept has proved itself by creating a massive co-op information library that deserves full marks for innovation.

THAT SAID -- I think Wikipedia has reached the critical mass necessary to make the database useful. It’s time to shove in the control rods now. Articles should have authors listed. Everyone who contributed should be included and their credentials (if they have any). In using Wikipedia, it would be infinitely useful to me to be able to see whether the article was written by an imminent nuclear scientist or a 35 year old devotee of the Warhammer Universe who is currently living in his mother’s garage and drawing disability due to his tragic addiction to Ding-dongs and moon pies. Authors should have to pony up a little information about themselves – establish their bona-fides so to speak. If Wikipedia wants to continue to be viewed as a legitimate source of knowledge, they should be willing to put some practices in place that give researchers some idea of where an article comes from. Certainly, for many controversial articles there would be a long list of authors and contributors, but multiple authors have never limited the usefulness of, say, medical journal articles or scientific papers on physics. It should be simple enough to prohibit anonymous authors from having the right to post an article or revision unless a verified author is willing to put his or her name on the article to cover the same information that the anonymous shy person has put forward. If the information is good, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone to take credit for it if the original author doesn’t want to.

Anonymity is great if you’re debating in a chat room or on a list serve or bulletin board, where the argument is the thing but when you’re writing an encyclopedia which is supposed to be factual in nature, information shouldn’t be included if it is uncredited, unsupported or just plain made up. While Wikipedia may be a holistic and evolutionary process (which is admittedly a pretty cool way to do this sort of thing), part of any natural selection process has to be selecting positive traits and rejecting unhelpful ones, that is if the evolution is going to lead to a successful outcome and not some Darwinian electronic dead end inhabited by unwashed post-adolescent pranksters and left-wing conspiracy theorists.

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King