Thank you so much for being part of this community. In these challenging times, the blessings of Sangha are extremely precious. It is important that we continue to hold each other in our hearts with certainty of purpose and strength of love amidst the uncertainties that surround us. We believe that Dharma can be the greatest gift to help us find our way through these difficulties, and our commitment to bringing its benefits to the world through teaching and practice remains undiminished.
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, we had to close Wonderwell to all onsite retreats. Since then our first priority has been to continue serving our community and the world as best we can. Like many organizations, we are working to move our programming online via the Zoom platform. Thus far, we have moved Open Practice weekends, Dharma Sundays, and several upcoming retreats online; Lama Liz has created a new online course on the Divine Feminine; and our Margha groups and affiliated Sanghas are continuing to hold their regular meetings virtually. We are grateful that the technology exists to help us bring Natural Dharma and Wonderwell to the world in this way.
Because the situation with the pandemic and its consequences continues to change, it is difficult to know what the future holds and when we might be able to gather safely once again at Wonderwell. Under these circumstances, we have made the decision to move our retreats online—from May through December of 2020.
Listings for these online retreats can be found on the Schedule page and registration will be available soon. If you previously registered for onsite participation at one of these retreats, you are eligible for a full refund and the Registrar will be in touch with you about the details, as well as about making a new registration for the online version if you wish. Please wait for the Registrar to contact you about a refund, as we will be reaching out sequentially by retreat dates. Other online offerings may be added as we move forward, so stay tuned.
Although we know there is no substitute for attending retreats at Wonderwell in-person, we are delighted to be able to share our dharma offerings with you online over the next several months.
Financial Update from NDF
The financial impact of COVID-19 on Wonderwell and NDF is of great concern. Since the onset of the pandemic and the closure of Wonderwell, we have struggled with how to sustain this Dharma vessel without the income from onsite retreats. Part of the answer lies in transforming our programs and retreats so that we can make them available online. More than this though, we must rely on the generosity of our Sangha, who have given so much already and who are facing financial challenges of their own.
Fortunately, the generosity of this community is strong and vibrant. Response to the April 9 financial appeal letter was wonderful, with $21,514 in new donations, seven new memberships totaling $412/month, and 11 monthly membership increases totaling $1,065/month. People have also been generous in converting a portion of their refunds for cancelled onsite retreats into donations—a total of $12,758 thus far. We are so grateful to all of you who have contributed in these various ways. Thank you, and may blessings be upon you!
We were also successful in our application for a PPP loan/grant (Payroll Protection Plan) through the Federal CARES act. We received $44,000 that will be used for April and May payroll and utility expenses, allowing us to pay staff and meet certain operating expenses without digging into our cash reserve and funds saved for future building improvements—yet. After May we will be in a budget deficit situation and we will begin burning our cash reserves at a rate of $13,000/month. However, we are hopeful that this monthly “burn rate” will be mitigated by registrations and donations from the retreats we will be offering online.
Interest in our online programing is high, and this is a good sign. Participation in Lama Liz’s “Divine Feminine” course has been averaging 125 people each week; registration for the Lama John/Dick Schwartz webinar on May 2 topped-out at 250 participants; and Brendan Kennedy’s online retreat in May (registration open now) is filling up rapidly. We believe in the value of our online offerings and trust that this will help to sustain Wonderwell and NDF in the months to come.
If you have not yet made a donation and would like to, or if you would like to become a Sustaining Member of NDF, or increase your monthly membership amount (by emailing Treasurer Phil Malloy), you are warmly invited to do so.