Don’t mess with a woman’s storage space, or the result will be a stake-level intervention.
Over the last month, I’ve had numerous conversations with ward members about the policies and practices regarding the cabinets in our meeting house. Those with a vested interest include teachers, counselors, presidents, and sisters who organize food for ward activities. Real estate in these cabinets is at a premium, so the rules for allocating space are occasionally scrutinized and challenged, usually when there’s a change in leadership.
Our building has a row of cabinets along the north wall of the Relief Society room that are used by two family wards, a student ward and the seminary teacher.
Five years I was given the code for one column of these cabinets. (My then-11-year-old son watched me use my code, inferred a pattern for the rest of the cabinets, and hacked into the whole row of them. But that’s another story.) Since then, I have seen a variety of items stored and retrieved from our ward’s column of cabinets, which consists of two sets of doors revealing 8 shelves total.
When you open these cabinets, you find dry erasers, magnets, church manuals, bookmarks, reams of paper, DVDs, table cloths, silk flowers, vases, framed pictures, and other items used to support Sunday teaching, midweek meetings and meals for funerals and for ward activities.
In an effort to maximize the space allotted to our ward’s use, I recently worked with a counselor in the Relief Society presidency to remove obsolete items and straighten up the placement of the remaining items.
We found remnants from activities past: a dozen manuals for last year’s Relief Society / Priesthood curriculum, bookmarks with the teaching schedule from 2012, a record of compassionate service rendered in 2011, handouts from lesson taught over many a Sunday past, and a cassette player. Yes, cassette. Digging further back, I expected to find craft kits for making macrame scripture totes.
Then there were the illegal items: candles, mounting putty and various items that are supposed to be stored in the meeting house library.
Our organizing efforts resulted in a bag of trash, a Xerox box worth of materials belonging to other auxiliaries or the library and one box of oddities—such as a dozen large ice cream bowls. I took the oddities home to store for a year before giving them away. I have no idea who knows this code and expects to retrieve the oddities that were stored there. They have a year to claim them.
Last week, a facilities management employee gave me a tour of all the building’s storage space—ward cabinets, stake cabinets, and church maintenance cabinets. There are also eight cabinets in a closet off the stage. Who knew? It was as though he had knocked on a wood panel and a hidden room was revealed.
I have heard a few tales about the use and allotment of the cabinets in our building (not just for Relief Society, but for Primary, youth, and scouts). These anecdotes convince me that this additional space would be much coveted. But I won’t relay these stories because they might be tedious, confidential and/or controversial.
As far as I understand, these cabinets will remain empty until someone on a stake level calls a meeting to assign them to some or all of the interested parties.
At this point the facilities manager told me that he is recusing himself from the decision: “After years of working with church women over cabinet allocation, I refuse to get involved anymore.” He’s leaving that to priesthood leadership. I have decided to put the issue of requests for more space from sisters in our ward on the back burner for now.
I’m hoping all the people in charge of our building can find the Wisdom of Solomon regarding cabinet allocation when needed. So far as I know, conflicts over storage have resulted–not in blows–but in no more than a kerfuffle. In the mean time, I advise my son in strong terms to stay out of the other wards’ cabinets.