Big dreams and low budget? No problem.

Posted: February 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Congratulations!  Your project has been funded!  After careful consideration, you will receive a 100%, non-matching grant in the amount of $5 million.  You may now build the project of your dreams.

Not really.  It would be nice, but for most projects, it is just a dream, not reality.

Yes, a generous budget might allow for more possibilities and more flexibility in meeting the program requirements of your project, but you don’t necessarily have to wait for the big grant to do some good things.  A recent project at the First Baptist Church in St. Albans (WV) is a good example.

Years ago, an education wing addition created a breezeway space between the new wing and the existing sanctuary.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a cold, lifeless space that was hardly ever used.  But church member Caroline Cloer had an idea.  Why not turn the breezeway into a courtyard?

While many people liked the concept, there just wasn’t much money to make it happen.  Her vision would have to happen on little more than faith.

It was to be a gathering place for small groups, or a place where one-on-one counseling might take place.  It was to be a place where small receptions could happen, or where someone could go for private meditation and prayer.

There was no budget for elaborate seating schemes; no money for fancy water features.  Time to get creative.

The solution to the seating was inexpensive benches and cafe tables and chairs arranged to break down the large space into separate “rooms”.  It’s possible for two or three people to share a table and a conversation and have some sense of privacy, yet there is enough flexibility with the moveable furniture to accommodate small groups or even a reception.  Low-maintenance plants in pots provide green relief from the large expanses of brick and help to further define the rooms.

Cafe tables and chairs are arranged to create "rooms" within the space.

A water feature would provide a focal point and the sounds of splashing water would help create a relaxing, soothing ambiance.  The solution was an off-the-shelf fountain that could easily be winterized.

The off-the-shelf fountain is both inexpensive and easy to maintain.

The one splurge on the project was to install new brick pavers, but because they were laid on a bed of sand on the existing concrete pavement, installation costs were minimal.  Church volunteers did much of the work including running electrical service for the fountain and a few new lights.  The total cost was less than $40,000.

So keep dreaming.  You can make good things happen.  You don’t necessarily have to wait for the big grant.

  1. Lee Anne says:

    I have a picture of my kindergarten class graduation taken in the FBC breezeway. But I don’t remember ever going out there during high school. I am glad they are using it now.

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