Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter MARCH 2004

There is really is no easy way to broach the topic of money and the lack thereof. It would be nice if we never had to bring the subject up, if we could all live our lives free of financial woes. Alas, that is not the case. In the real world financial insecurity is the norm, most small businesses are currently living a hand to mouth existence. the Marina Dock is no exception. Over the last four years we have experienced some good times and some bad times. It's been either a feast or a famine. From month to month our income varies wildly, and in a small business like ours, the difference in income of between two or three thousand dollars is the difference between staying open or closing. February was a bear of a month, the first month in our storied history where I really felt, after tapping all my usual sources, that we had run out of gas. February was also the first month where we still owe rent for the month and it's now almost March. This is now a time for serious reflection for all of us who really believe in the place and feels that the Marina Dock's existence is an integral part of our own daily routine. In a nutshell what it comes down to is how much does this place mean to you?

Would it really matter, if tomorrow or the next day, we had to close down the Marina Dock because we are falling short by a couple of thousand dollars every month? I suppose, for most of us the short answer to that question would probably be "no". As a species, we are wired for self-preservation; we are the quintessential survivors. That explains why we are still around. The question, however, has a broader philosophical meaning, is it really just about us and nothing else? Can any one of us really feel good about ourselves while others less fortunate are in our midst, looking in our direction for spiritual sustenance and guidance? More newcomers come to our facility everyday than anywhere else in San Francisco. Sure, it is true; we all know from our own experience that no human power can restore us to sanity that has to come from a higher authority. However once an individual has been chosen and cast into our midst, can we then turn the other cheek and continue to feel good about ourselves? I believe the answer to that question is a resounding "no!" It has to be obvious even to the most self-reliant and ruggedly independent among us that we live in a world of interdependency, and therefore it is in our own best interest to ensure that the less fortunate among us are afforded the same opportunities we have, to live a full and meaningful existence. This I believe to be a self-evident truth, the problem most of us have with that concept is, how do we know when we are actually helping someone and not enabling them? The answer has to be in the results, if we see our support is over time, positively changing another persons image of themselves and their way of being in the world, then we have to feel we are doing the right thing. I am not, in any way suggesting, that the Marina Dock sees itself as the spearhead for some kind of New World Order. We do however in our own small way, play our part in bringing about change. Nor is it my intention to bludgeon anyone into paroxysm of guilt about how much they contribute, not that I would protest if someone did react that way. I am merely pointing out to anyone interested, that we have managed to survive over the last eighteen months, because we cut this business down to a bare bones operation. On more than one occasion people have commented that it's a miracle we have survived this depression, yes depression, let us call a spade a spade. January and February, however, has really put us to the test. We are falling behind in paying our bills. We are late paying our rent. We need an injection of capital now rather than later. If we can stay current we would be in a good position to renew our lease in 9 months from now. If we continue to lag behind, it may not happen. We operate on an annual income of around $230,000. That's $630 a day. It costs us $700 a day to keep this place afloat. If we have a shortfall of $70 bucks a day x 365 = a negative of $25,550 or around $2,200 a month. When these figures are bandied about, people express surprise. They, for some reason, forget we happen to operate in the most expensive districts, in the most expensive city, with the highest rents, highest energy costs, highest taxes, highest unemployment, 70,000 currently collecting unemployment insurance in San Francisco, highest gasoline prices ($3.00 a gallon coming soon to a gas station near you). We could of course cut our costs by 60% if we relocate to somewhere south of Market Street like Sixth and Howard or, better still, Daly City. Would that be outsourcing?

The good news

Fortunately for us there are some devoted patrons who have taken it upon themselves to try and make a difference. Bruce S, who by the way does not even live in the city, has come forward with a great idea. Bruce has connections in the music business from his halcyon days as a 'sixties rock and roller. He is working on putting together a musical event in the city sometime in June/July of this year. He sounds extremely optimistic about the whole setup. He did however mention to me, although the musicians themselves would volunteer their services, some seed money would be required to get the whole operation off the ground. The cost for the venue, setup guys, and other preliminary expenses would have to be paid for in advance. Anyone interested in getting on the committee that Bruce has established, or wants to help out with the cost, should contact him directly. For more information on how to reach him, call us or ask David M at the counter.

why i believe

So here I am a few days ago wandering around the Sunset district, trying to figure out a solution to our financial stress vis-à-vis the Marina Dock. Not a good idea. You know what the big book has to say about going it alone in spiritual matters. When I suddenly flashed on an old remedy for excessive self-absorption. A friend of mine was here visiting from Newport, Rhode Island. The last time I saw this guy was over three years ago, and at that time he looked and acted a lot like me when I was still out there having fun. At that time I managed to apply AA principles and remained nonjudgmental or as the big book puts it "in a state of neutrality". I thought, "I should give Lenny a call and see how he is doing". He was happy to hear from me, and I invited him out for a walk, he said great let's have some tea as well. Tea? When he came to the door to greet me, I couldn't help but notice how different he looked from our last encounter. His eyes were bright and he looked sharp and alert. We walked through the park over to the Richmond district, and on the way over without any prompting from me, he informed me he did not have a drink in over three years. Over tea I opened up a little about my own drinking escapades, what it was like, what happened, and not too much about what it is like today. I did not want to freak the guy out with trivial stuff like I need $20,000 by Sunday. He seemed very interested. He did, however, make a point of letting me know he did not have a problem. He quit because of relationship issues. Around midnight I told him I had to go to the Marina Dock to take care of business. I asked him if he would like to come along. When we got there he was greeted cordially by a few of the old Half Measures Group and I could see he immediately felt at home. We talked into the small hours of the morning about the Red Sox, the White Sox, and the big Yankees trade with the Texas Rangers. It was almost 3:30 a.m. and we still couldn't get him out of there for love or money. On the way home I could see he was psyched and he remembered everyone's name. Lenny laughed when I explained to him the origins of the moniker "The Half Measures Group". Frank Brennan, by the way, is responsible for that attribution. There aren't many of us who remember the first words we hear from the big book, but if Lenny ever decides he wants what we have, he will have a jump start and always remember where he first herd the term "half measures avail us nothing". Lenny left for New England a few days later, but we promised to stay in touch. He said he will come back in the summer for a spell, and he mentioned looking forward to seeing the guys and having another Marina Dock Moment. That's when I realized that (a) God speaks through other people and (b) it's really out of my hands. Thank God for that.

in the meantime

I just found an old Dry Dock newsletter from September 1988 and the first thing that David mentions is membership and donations and how vital that is for the Dry Dock to stay open. Let's see, 16 years later, the situation remains unchanged. Remember you can now have your membership paid automatically every month either through your credit card or bank account. A friend of mine in Ireland ran into two guys at a meeting recently. They get the newsletter and are aware of our financial difficulties. One of them told her they wanted to give some money but they don't trust the mail. He told her they are planning to come out here with a bag of money for us. So if you see two guys heading our way with a satchel bulging with Euros, for God's sake give them some space. Bear in mind this story and everyone in it is Irish.


Anthony T. Murray

"Irish Tony"


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