As you may or may not know, I work for a non-profit agency in Boston. Our staff is small, but our goal (and our reach) is pretty big. We serve a lot of people, without a lot of staff or resources, and we do it well, which is great. Anyway, this isn’t about the actual work we do, but rather about our work SPACE.
We rent an office in downtown Boston, pretty close to Newbury Street and directly across the street from Berklee School of Music — home of famous college dropouts like John Mayer. As of last year, Berklee acquired our building and we now rent space from them. It’s not really a glamorous office, because it’s pretty old, and we’ve been there for (I think) over a quarter of a century. Our office furniture doesn’t match, there are holes in the carpeting…etc. It’ just your typical, somewhat run-down Boston area office. There are millions of them. We just extended our lease with Berklee, however, and part of the deal was that we asked if we could paint the office space (at least the common areas) to spruce things up a bit. Surprisingly they said yes, and even MORE surprisingly, they gave us the paint to do it.
Of course, free labor was not included with free paint (natch) so guess who painted the office? WE DID. At first I was pretty hesitant about painting at work — it’s one thing to do it in your own house where, if you mess up, it’s your house and your partner won’t (or shouldn’t…) get mad at you. It’s another thing entirely to paint the place where you work, especially with your peers — I was afraid of messing up, putting a big paint-covered footprint on the carpeting, knocking over a bucket of paint … you name it. My fears ebbed and flowed (I mean, we’re all amateurs, right?) until the big day. Led by our fearless leader, the head of HR/painter extraordinaire, and joined by various community volunteers, we didn’t just paint, we were on FIRE. We were scheduled to paint through the day, but the morning shifters (I was one of them!) got everything done by 12:30 — including multiple coats of paint.
In just that morning, we were able to paint: the 2nd and 4th floor conference rooms (I worked on the 4th floor!), a 14-foot “accent” wall on the fourth floor, the front desk/reception area, both 2nd floor bathrooms, the 2nd floor kitchen and 2 interview rooms. The colors are bright and optimistic, and I’d imagine that they really DO make an impact when potential volunteers or donors enter the space.
And as far as my fears went about painting the office? They were all in vain. I should have realized that our painting guru/HR rep would have been more than super prepared for any beginning painters. Everything was covered in plastic and taped down and out of harm’s way. I don’t think anyone stepped in paint, spilled paint, and most people didn’t even splash it on their clothes. Phew.
My only regret is that I didn’t take pictures of the places I helped to paint — though I know that whenever I want to see my hard work, I can just mosey up to the 4th floor conference room and feel good about myself!
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