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So long, summer 2015!

Summer 2015

Summer 2015

A 27,000 square foot building with no heat and only one bathroom that functions … just in the summer? We could dwell on our many limitations at the Huss Project, but we choose to embrace the boundless possibilities instead! One of the ways we do this is to focus on summer programming when we can enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. Concentrating activities in the summer also offers our dedicated volunteers a much-needed slow-down season in the fall, winter and spring.

We had a wonderful summer this year, as evidenced by this our annual summer wrap-up, which includes invitations the remaining events of the season — gardening nights, storytelling nights and downtown harvest markets. Check it out!

  • Summer lunches: In partnership with Three Rivers Community Schools, we served as the site for a whopping 1,778 lunches this summer. Wow! Broke our records last year by a million miles! Thanks, Joel, for heading up the coordination of this important program, and to Florence Church, Three Rivers Christian Reformed Church and Center Park United Methodist for providing volunteers!
  • Storytelling Nights: Our monthly storytelling nights provided intimate settings for sharing amazing food, good conversation and stories that were at turns touching and funny. If you’d like to participate, you’ve got one more chance this coming Friday at 7:00 p.m. Bring a dish and a story to share. The theme is “the turning point.”
  • Community garden: After five seasons, our wonderful garden coordinator Julianna stepped back to focus on other exciting ventures in her life. With the humble trepidation of a beginner, Rob took on the leadership role and the garden has thrived as he’s apprenticed himself to local farmers and very helpful books. In addition to our volunteer staff, multiple generations of neighbors pitched in to help cultivate a bumper crop. First-time harvests included plums, rhubarb and daikon radishes. We sold produce through the weekly Three Rivers farmers market, combining our produce with the overflow from other local farmers who support the Huss Project. We also distributed the abundance through local agencies including the Domestic Assault Shelter, Community Kitchen and the Emergency Food Site.  This Thursday and next are the final markets of the season — don’t miss them!  And we’d also welcome your help in the garden at Huss this Wednesday and next from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
  • Community Fun Nights: In order to turn more of our attention to the work of the garden, we cut back our weekly community fun nights to extravaganzas in June and August. We still enjoyed the company of the traditional gaggle of all-ages neighbors for snacks, games and crafts.
  • Huss Future Festival: Our annual Huss Future Festival was the biggest and best ever, in spite of (or because of?) a huge rainstorm that rumbled through mid-morning. We raised over $5,000 for the Huss Project and enjoyed partying throughout the day with about 600 of our friends from both nearby and afar. In case you missed it — or even if you didn’t! — enjoy these reviews in prose and video.
  • Fundraising: Huss Future Fest is our biggest annual fundraiser, but we also received $3,000 in grants and partnered on a beer garden for the annual Harmony Fest in downtown Three Rivers to raise money for the Huss Project.  Our farmers market season has been the most successful yet, with over $4,800 in sales and two more weeks to go yet.  The Sturgis Eagles also supported the Huss Project this year with their annual lip sync fundraiser, generously contributing $670.
  • Interns, Service-Learning Groups and more!: We could not have pulled off this summer without a whole host of local volunteers and visitors.  Joel, Daniel and Ryan brought their gifts as part of our resident community. Two groups from Calvin College — RA’s and the service-learning center staff — helped with labor and special events. Local citizens pitched in on our annual community clean-up day.  Local churches and organizations pitched in for Future Fest and summer lunches.  It was truly a season of creative collaboration, and we are thankful to all who made such a joyful summer at the Huss Project possible!

As summer winds down, we look forward to a volunteer staff retreat November and strategizing for the year to come, including planning, recruiting, fundraising, and more.  You may not see us out there pulling weeds at 1008 8th Street very much in the months to come, but you can bet that the gang is hard at work, like a bare tree building energy for the year to come.  Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and support!

Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Kirstin is a member of the *culture is not optional core community and is the Head Caretaker at GilChrist Retreat Center.