By Stacey Lucas
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Once upon a weekend fleeting, I came upon Monday’s staff meeting,
With large, hot, cups of coffee in hand, the staff shuffled in, eyes fixed to the floor,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As if someone was franticly tapping, rapping, sobbing, scratching, at the conference room door,
“Tis the development director,” I muttered, “scratching at the conference room door,
Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
End-of-year giving envelopes carelessly strewn upon the floor,
From the stuffing party on Friday night, mailing one-thousand appeals to set the budget right,
When the development director flew open the conference room door,
Grant in hand, eyes bloody and sore.
“Two hundred words! No less! No more!”
Helpless staff looked down uncertain, wishing for a shot of bourbon,
For tis the holiday season, the date on the calendar read December twenty-four,
The development director’s eyes were filled with panic, her pitch high, her moves quite manic,
“Three grants must be written, copied, collated, and mailed before the New Year soars,
Program department, send me project budgets, I implore,
General operating support is no more.”
Presently my head was hurting, one thing I knew was certain,
“Friend,” said I. “I must ask, ‘What can we do to help you with this chore?’”
With my words still floating in the air, she threw me shade with a deadly stare,
As she shouted, “Our work in the community screams humanity at its core,
We help children, the elderly, the disenfranchised, the poor.
Explain that in two-hundred words. No more.”
Under my breadth I mutter a curse; the calendar will soon read December thirty-first,
I stare at the-end-of-year giving envelopes sticking to the unpolished floor,
Will they write the checks we need; do they know we can succeed
With our mission of doing good; no, no, we can do so much more.
The development director is now crying, sobbing, scratching on the floor.
Christmas cheer is folklore.
The coffee is slowly turning colder; this time of year, it makes us older.
Yell it from the rooftops; we’re on the front lines of this war,
Check the small box; submit your financials; book a site visit; pray for something substantial,
Hoping the New Year rings in staff morale that needs to be restored,
But for now the grant must be post-marked by noon, December twenty-four;
The Ghost of Christmas Present raps at the door.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams ED’s around the world have dreamed before;
A world where unicorns grace the land; where mission and funding go hand in hand.
Where foundations give cash for salaries, light bulbs, and nice smelling stuff to clean the floor,
We hope, we pray, donors will knock, knock, knock at our door,
So that we may close the office on December twenty-four.
Why The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is awesome: Every child has a destiny to find their place in the world. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is here to teach them that the world is open to their possibility. This is where children embark on a self-guided tour of discovery. Of how the world works. Of things they may never have considered. In a free-flowing space without walls or restrictions, they explore. Play. And latch on to what is fun and interesting. They can be painters, sculptors, and dancers. Or engineers, builders, and chemists. Outside of our walls, the Museum is an active part of the community. Working with underprivileged children in Atlanta’s inner-city neighborhoods, schools, and shelters, teaching them through play, and nurturing their natural curiosity. The Museum even has a colorful bus so families can get to our home space easily and free of charge. Did I mention our bus runs on recycled French fries oil? It smells really good when driving down Peachtree Street. We also sell stuffed unicorns in our gift shop because we’re The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and we are awesome like that.