It was never a sure thing, but in the end, they pulled it off and accomplished a tremendous success. The China for a Lifetime Committee, a local town-sponsored group that seeks out projects with the goal of improving the lives of China residents, first planned a Window Dressers workshop for the fall of 2020. Well, we all know how that year went.
Window Dressers is a nonprofit based in Rockport that works with towns across the state to organize community workshops to build low-cost window inserts to eliminate drafts and help people reduce their heating costs. Vassalboro has led several workshops, most recently in 2019, and the idea was for volunteers in China to coordinate with volunteers in Vassalboro to lead workshops on alternate years and give residents of area towns a yearly option to have inserts built or repaired.
COVID threw a wrench into that strategy, and although tentative plans were made for the following year, in 2021, those plans were again scrapped as the pandemic was still raging and uncertainty about its direction led the committee to delay the workshop for another year. At the start of 2022, however, committee members were determined to make it work.
Planning began in January, and in the following months members of the China for a Lifetime Committee attended several seminars and Zoom tutorials to better understand how the process worked. They learned how to properly measure windows to a perfect precision (the most important part of the process), how the online measuring application functioned (and what to do when it didn’t), and how the inserts were put together and built. They created flyers and other promotional materials and disseminated them to local churches, town offices, post offices and community groups. They reached out to area organizations to ask them to spread the word and help with the effort. They met monthly to report their progress and plan for the months ahead.
Starting in the spring, they began taking orders and setting up measuring appointments. Traveling to each client home, the teams measured every window requiring inserts and sent the results back to the Window Dressers headquarters for the frames to be cut.
It all came together in the second week of November. Camp Directors Stephanie and Rick Hansen, at the China Lake Conference Center, provided space for the workshop, which turned out to be the perfect place. Christopher Hahn, chairman for the China for a Lifetime Committee, coordinated all the logistics required for everything to come together for the successful build event and was on hand to offer advice and encouragement to volunteers as they participated. Hahn was a consistent presence for the entire week and the lynch-pin holding it all together.
In the end, volunteers at the workshop put together over 200 window inserts and repaired another fifty. More than 50 volunteers participated during the week of the build and the initiative was only successful because so many people volunteered their time and energy in this effort to benefit the entire community.
The process did not go off completely without a hitch, of course. Nothing is perfect. Four windows (out of 200) were mis-measured and had to be sent back to be redone. Some of the volunteers who had signed up to work at the build workshop never showed up for their shift, which left the remaining team members short-handed. But these were minor bumps in the road for a first-time effort and, at the postmortem meeting held a few weeks later, committee members agreed that the effort had been a terrific success and a rewarding experience.
Next year, Vassalboro will be hosting a Window Dressers build so anyone who was unable to order inserts this year will be able to do so then.
The China for a Lifetime Committee thanks everyone who participated to make this a successful effort, including the local organizations and churches that helped spread the word, the local town offices for taking orders, and especially the China Lake Conference Center for generously providing the space for the week-long event.
For more information about Window Dressers, please visit their website at windowdressers.org. To find out more about the China for a Lifetime Committee, their website is ChinaForALifetime.com. Anyone interested in joining the committee or being a part of future events can email them at ChinaForALifetime@gmail.com.
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