State of The Club Presented by Mike Borfitz, VWC President


Dear Membership,

In keeping with the practice of reviewing the accomplishments experiences of the previous year please see the following:


State of the VWC – January 2021

2020 ended with many people breathing a sigh of relief.  Like the rest of the world, we faced some challenges, fears and changes in normal routines, but in the end we learned new ways to accomplish things and made progress.

Let’s look at this year in review.

We began with great anticipation of the breaking of ground for the second VWC site on Buena Vista Blvd., a waiting list of 419 and plans to boldly march forward.  We needed to accomplish the following:

1) identify and train the assistant managers for each department;

2) make sure that the facilities were ready from an IT standpoint to communicate as necessary, from the daily standpoint of ordering and conducting daily business, to the bigger arena of creating and monitoring the yearly budget;

3) define and assure that members are “qualified” to use either shop;

4) procure the equipment and install it in a timely manner;

5) build and place all the furniture (both office and shop) needed in the new shop; and

6) keep business as usual at the “Rolling Acres” shop;

but it wouldn’t be so straightforward!

Enter the scene - news articles about this virulent virus in China – so far away, certainly it wouldn’t hit the USA in a similar manner............ not!

February still had us excited that we had a record low number of member resignations as the calendar turned from 2019 to 2020 and we had over 400 residents anxious to join our ranks.  Ground-breaking for the new site was imminent.

And then came March and the first closure of the shop due to COVID-19, not to be reopened until June 1.  Our Phase 1 approach was strict and allowed a small number of members to enter the shop either in the morning or afternoon for 3.5 hours and only twice a week. Cleaning between shifts, masks, social distancing, taking temperatures and washing hands were the new requirements.

By June 15, we were comfortable with our Phase 1 approach and we moved to Phase 2 which expanded the number of people in the shop to 40 and removed the limit on shifts available to members.  And for the month of June, all seemed fine in our approach......until the end of June when another member who had been in the shop tested positive and once again, the doors closed!

Independence Day saw most of us staying home and recognizing that COVID-19 was not a short-term problem.

In the throes of all that was going on from a COVID standpoint, the ground-breaking for the new shop actually took place and building began!  We needed to stay on top of things as well as we could....and thus we learned to Zoom!  We set up meetings for the EOC (Executive Operations Committee  - “Staff Meeting”) as well as the Board meetings and we were able to safely communicate and make recommendations as well as decisions without meeting in person.  One of those recommendations that was forwarded to the Board was to reopen again on August 31, 2020.  (We had been closed for over four months of the year!)

We reopened following Phase II rules – masks, temperature-taking, washing hands, social distancing, and wiping down surfaces.   Only members were allowed in the shop.  Following this second reopening,  we had a few members who contracted the virus, but with the IT systems we have in place, we were able to carefully assess who might have been near the infected member.  We alerted the membership and, in particular, those who had been in the shop at the same time.  To a person and incident, we could find NO evidence that the virus had be contracted in the shop.

In addition, due to two “situations” our Phase II criteria had us opening to members on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays (eventually Saturday was added) and using Tuesdays and Thursdays to whittle away at our waiting list in a smaller one-on-one approach that actually proved to provide a more thorough teaching environment than before.  What were the two situations you ask?  One has been cited above – a long waiting list which had some residents waiting up to two years!  The other was that with the scare of COVID, some members naturally couldn’t fulfill their monitor duty shifts due to compromising health concerns or just plain terror of this virus that had taken over the world which left us short on monitors to cover a full week!

At any rate, we did our best to turn the “lemons into lemonade”!

Be aware that as we struggled to manage the Rolling Acres site, the new building construction was underway with optimistic finishing dates that first cited November 2020, then dates in December, and finally om the third full week in January 2021.  In the interim we prepared what we could by way of staging equipment orders, as well as building what was possible at Rolling Acres and storing it in the rented Pod outside.  In fact, in December, we accepted delivery of several pieces of equipment at the new site and will soon be able to begin installation.

From a management point, we are blessed to have capable, willing members who gave generously of their time to keep the shop and the club running during these challenging times.

Our Toy Department, under the leadership of Conway Williams, still worked to continue building while Jo Harlos and her painting group added the finishing touches – even at home sometimes.  They managed to produce 8,800+ toys for needy children.

Kathy Villani moved from the leadership of Stained Glass to assume the position of Manager of Administration - Front Desk, succeeding Anne Bell who after 14 years of performing that duty retired to be able to devote more time to her home and family.  Karin Williams then assumed the Assistant Manager position for Stained Glass. 

The Website continued to grow under the tutelage of Hans Zassenhaus offering the membership a place to go for information, education videos and even voting.

Special Projects took a hit during the closure times since we prohibited non-members from entering the shop, but it was still able to contribute to needs in the community as well as financially for the Club.  The pre-made items continued to be in demand and under Bernie Harkins, the inventory stayed stocked.

IT, under the management of Bill Pappas, had a very busy year from working the door locks and key-in capabilities to preparing the hardware, and the systems needed for the second site which would allow us to function in real time as a single club with two locations.

With Doug Parks managing the Finance area for the ninth year, we were able to keep in step with the upcoming demands of the new shop.  Doug chose to leave the Treasurer’s position at the end of 2020 and has transitioned it well to Ed Deitch.

Jim Spallone stepped down from the Vice President’s position and Rik Peirce assumed that role in addition to continuing to lead the Design team efforts.  The Club owes tremendous gratitude to Rik for bringing the new site to constructional reality while assuming all the responsibilities of vice president.

Education, under the leadership of Deb Lauouere, had challenges as COVID shut things down, but was able to start a mentoring program for members needing assistance.  In addition, some classes did take place, or were completed with instructors and students who felt comfortable with meeting to do so.  Deb also continued to look for other education approaches available to the members.

Having grown and developed the area greatly, Glenn Croteau stepped down from managing Shop Administration/Maintenance but not from helping in that area.  Brad Primeau took over the management/leadership position and has been very active in maintaining Rolling Acres while preparing and working on the new site.

Steve Yovan led the Board of Directors through this trying time while keeping lumber supplied and available.  He also stepped forward to help champion and instruct the smaller certification approach.

John Herega continued as Safety Manager, Turning leader and an active instructor in the new certification effort.

Dick Besler continued to lead the Certification and Monitor Training effort, working to cover the areas in the face of instructors unable to participate due to concern about the virus.

Scott Herlick and Alvin Corenblum continued to produce Urns for Indigent Veterans and identified more cemeteries with the need for these kinds of urns.  In addition, they worked on an off shoot of this endeavor that may be introduced in 2021.  Stay tuned.

And lastly, the Woodworking Technology department, under the leadership of Lowell Sundermann remained busy with increased interest from numerous members, some of whom have purchased small technology units for their personal use.  They also championed the purchase of an upgraded CNC for the new site and hold the distinction of having had that be the first piece of equipment delivered to the new address.

Sadly, Bruce Beigel, Bill Cassarino, Charles Castiglione, Lyle Hoffmeister, Richard Jenne, Gene Linder, Charles Maky and Sharon Nicklaus passed away.  Each made significant contributions to our Club.  We owe a debt of gratitude to these past members and we send sympathy to their families.

We now face 2021 with great expectations and thanks for all that we learned in 2020 and all that we will experience in this coming year.

With thanks for your cooperation and support,