May 2020 Vestry Corner                                                   Mary Lu Barth

The Genesis Board is a group made up of four members each from TBE and St. Clares.  Its purpose is to oversee the operation and maintenance of the building.  The facilities coordinator (FC) Mike Wolf hires and manages staff, establishes the schedule for building use, is the contact person for vendors, and generally does what is needed to keep the building operating smoothly. 

Shortly after the SARS-CoV-2 virus found its way to Michigan, your Genesis Board began meeting weekly to try to keep ahead of the effects of the pandemic on our small community.

After mandated isolation and distancing guidelines were issued, from mid-March to early April, meetings were spent concentrating on:

  • Managing building use and minimizing potential virus exposure to the staff and others using the building, which included cancelling future reservations for events in the building
  • Managing staff scheduling which included having to temporarily cut all hours for  part-time Genesis staff
  • Educating ourselves by gathering all of the governmental, health services, and diocese  guidelines, information that seemed to grow exponentially weekly

Through the end of April and into the first weeks of May our focus changed:

  • After reading over the guidelines and mandates, the board began to investigate ways to keep the building clean while minimizing the present risk of staff exposure, and the perceived risk in the future when people began coming back into the building.
  • Two new industrial vacuums with Hepa filters were purchased to minimize the risk to staff when cleaning the building.
  • The FC and several board members attended an internet seminar on air handling in public buildings, and Mike began to consult with our HVAC contractor to find out what improvements could be made with the air handling system in the building.
  • The board treasurer completed the time-consuming and intricate process of submitting an application for an SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, which was awarded in May and will be used to cover staff labor expenses for May and June.

Beginning mid-April and ongoing, the board began to plan for the eventual reopening of the facility. Much information has become available from the CDC, the diocese, and the state, and board members are reviewing these guidelines.   Discussions have included:

  • When to open the building, and to how many of the building users?  How to control building access by route of entry and exit, to accommodate social distancing, to minimize vendor and general public entry?
  • How to conduct worship services –
    • Do we require masks?
    • Do we cordon off seating areas to accommodate safe distancing?
    • Is it safe to sing, individually or choir singing?
    • What cleaning is required between services/ events?
  • How and when do we begin to allow event use – bar/bah mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, and other celebrations?
  • Rest assured that the board takes these responsibilities seriously, and we will all continue to try to do the best that we can to facilitate the return to what we will come to call the “new” normal.