Where We Stand
Dear Everyone, May 1st, 2020
As you know, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Portland Dhamma Center has closed to the public. It is uncertain when we can reopen, and it’s likely we will have to operate at a reduced capacity when we do. In truth and in sadness, it is even possible that the Center will not be able to host large gatherings until there is a vaccine, and that could take a year.
Fortunately, with the support of many, we’ve been able to quickly move our weekly programs online. One unexpected upside has been the pleasure of welcoming back past community members who had moved away and now re-join our weekly practices from their far-flung homes. One critical downside is that moving income online is much harder.
Currently, a full third of our income ($2,700 a month) is tied to having the physical building. This includes rent from groups using the Center and dana left in the Center’s bowl after programs or events. We forecast that by next month that income will be cut in half.
When we bought the building, we had a vision. It begins: we envision a city refuge, where we can lay down our worldly burdens within a community that nurtures virtue, contentment, and calm, so wisdom can arise.
Nothing about the pandemic makes our vison less valuable, but it does require that we re-examine how we support our vision because we have a very small financial margin. For example, at the start of this year, the Board begrudgingly accepted Sakula’s offer to take a 15% pay cut to ensure all of our programs could be funded.
In the last few weeks the Board has taken several steps to help shore up our finances, and we’ve encountered great generosity too. These include:
- Jessica who teaches the children’s program volunteered to forgo her stipend.
- The three Buddhist groups, who lease from us, all pay at least partial rent even while they cannot use the building, acknowledging that it’s a vital part of what makes the Center possible.
- We have applied for a forgivable loan via the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.
- We are talking with lenders about a mortgage deferment.
However, as the way ahead is very uncertain, this letter is not about solutions.
What this letter IS about is sharing with our entire community the looming challenges we face with our finances. It is about our resolve to keep serving our community, and to safeguard our Dhamma Center. We are asking you, all of you, to reflect on what this center, this community means to you. For to secure our “Refuge in the City” we must recognize that it is, simply and beautifully, all of ours to secure.
If you are wondering how to help (first, thank-you), and here are two times and two places. One is (always) here and now: this link to our Dana Bowl. The other is Sunday, June 28, when Luang Por Pasanno will join us online for a 20th-anniversary celebration and fundraiser. More details will be available soon, we sincerely hope you will join us.
Thank you for being a part of this community and for reading to the very end of this letter too.
On behalf of the Portland Friends of the Dhamma Board
Stephanie Bekooy, Board Chair
Bonnie Wilson, Treasurer