After the calendars flipped over to 2005, Vanessa Gonzalez told me that the parish had opted to not continue their relationship with the mission church. Vanessa, with a passion I have yet to see from anyone else, was set on continuing some presence to these kids at St. Peter’s. Soon enough, she was telling me about ideas for a two-week program, a Jr. High-High School program one week and a VBS program the second week. I thought we were taking on more than we could handle with a one-week VBS and Jr. High-High School retreat.
The Brandon Kraft Foundation, created exactly for this purpose, by virtue of the decision of our Board of Directors, approved a measure offering any and all of our services and resources to see to the completion of this program. Vanessa talked with Sr. Martha, principal of the St. Peter’s School, and set a date. The Foundation offered a web presence, such as it was, as well as e-mail and financial management resources. Stephanie Elliott and I brought the issue to Fr. Dave at the University Catholic Center. The program was approved and given the same rights and privileges as any other student organization at the Center.
Vanessa found money in places I didn’t know existed and recruited on top of that. At Texas, we raised some funds, nothing close to what we could have if we put our full effort into it. Our recruitment efforts weren’t as fruitful as we had hoped; too many people, it seemed, had already had their summer plans set. I don’t blame them. We didn’t start this process until after Spring Break. At Texas, we were the new kids on the block and we did not want to get on the bad side of the Mexico Mission Trip. This very established trip was vital to the social justice mission of the University Catholic Center and while our mission trip fits into the puzzle that is the UCC, we did not want to impact the success of our previous programs.
In either case, it worked. People signed up. Checks were received. Sr. Martha said kids were signing up.
Personally, I found myself in a personal funk. What were we doing? We were short-staffed. We weren’t reaching our fundraising goals. I had forgotten the importance of this program to this community. I know I didn’t do nearly the amount of work I could do in order to make this program successful. I don’t like to have regrets. I feel that you should make all your actions something that of which you are proud. If someone acts about your actions, you should be able to recall them proudly. You might have mistakes but they should be mistakes that were executed while giving all the effort that you’re able. To be completely frank and honest, I did not do what I could to make this project successful. My personal faith was lacking what was needed to see a project like this to completion. In either case, Vanessa made it happen despite my issues. I don’t like to have regrets but I do regret not putting 100% into this program.
I think Vanessa is too humble to accept my praise of her efforts; nevertheless, here it is: despite her weaknesses and because of her strengths, she was able to make this thing happen. Stephanie and I did a lot of prep work without doubt, but without her, this would have never happened. Her love for this community ensured that it would be served.
In either case, no matter my doubts or our current status, it was go time.