Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One Step Closer to a Fragrance-free Building

Well, I had quite the experience this past Sunday evening. Our local church leadership (LDS stake presidency, bishops and branch presidents) met to discuss the proposed goal of designating our local church buildings as fragrance-free. Since I cannot safely go into the building, I was asked to give a 15-minute presentation via speaker phone. That isn't very much time, so I had to plan ahead and choose my words wisely. I focused on the stages of chemical sensitivity (from tolerance to permanent tissue damage), common symptoms of these different stages and then my own experience with stage 3 MCS and the physical reactions I have had in our church buildings. I also gave a brief overview of the symptoms other people in our congregations have reported having in our buildings. (We have a list of 15 people who have complained about some degree of chemical sensitivity they have had at church.)

There was an overwhelming vote of support among these leaders for pushing ahead with the fragrance-free goal in the four church-owned buildings and also in the two small rented facilities. This same group will meet again in about two weeks to finalize plans for implementation, i.e. educating members, putting signs on doors, deciding where to seat people who come fragranced unknowingly (visitors), etc.

This is a huge step for this area. As many of you know, I quit attending church meetings here entirely over six months ago. Since then, my husband (who is a member of the stake presidency) has made a great effort to educate people and enlist support for creating a safer environment (i.e. fragrance-free) in our buildings. I do not like bringing attention to myself, and would willingly have just faded away into inactivity indefinitely, but he was not willing to let it slide by.

I am realistic enough to know that this won't happen overnight. People don't willingly change their behavior without some struggle. But getting the leaders on board is a huge step. My sincere hope is that church members will realize the importance of reaching out in compassion to fellow members with special needs and will also come to understand that this creates a safer environment for everyone.


Becca said...

Yay! I'm so glad that it went well!! Baby steps, right?

SharonB said...

You are so awesome!