QUAKER CENTER’S MISSION STATEMENT
Quaker Center seeks to nurture the spiritual growth and faithfulness of Friends and others, while strengthening Quakerism and its witness in the world. We offer programs and personal retreats exemplifying Friends’ testimonies of community, integrity, simplicity, peace, and equality. We strive to live in right order with all creation, especially with the redwood forest that sustains us here in the Santa Cruz mountains.
Ben Lomond Quaker Center Association
2014 Report to Spring Quarterly Meeting
The last year has been good here at Quaker Center.
Over the last year, we have had 5 Quaker groups, 14 Quaker Center programs (10 workshops and 4 camps), 51 non-Quaker groups, and 81 sojourners stay with us. This points to an interesting dynamic: the bulk of Quaker Center’s guests are not necessarily Quaker, but are visiting us as part of retreats and workshops held by like-minded non-profit and for-profit enterprises. Their business ensures that we can run Quaker Center as a cost-effective resource for the Quaker community when we need it, and provides the much-needed income to keep the Center functioning.
Speaking of income, we beat our budget this year, with a very small profit after accounting for depreciation. This was achieved by an increase in Quaker Center’s revenues, offset by tight cost control maintained by our co-directors and maintenance manager. One thing that will dramatically reduce costs this coming year is our taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); in the past Quaker Center has subsidized the health insurance costs of our co-directors and maintenance manager, a significant outlay each year. By having our full-time staff enroll in ACA while providing the staff with an increase in compensation to cover those costs, we can realize significant savings on health care premiums. Unfortunately, while this sounded simple in theory, employee enrollment in ACA has not been so straightforward, and has taken our staff a significant amount of time and effort. While we do not have unlimited cash reserves, we maintain adequate cash reserves for operations, and have current assets equal to about eight months of operating expenses. An overview of our financial statements is being distributed with this report. Please talk to our co-directors or a board finance committee member with any specific questions.
Attendance at programs remains strong, thanks in part we believe to the individuals and meetings’ uses of our Annual Pass, which was introduced two years ago. If you’re a frequent attender, or your meeting wants to increase its participants’ participation in our programs; consider an Annual Pass, which pays for itself quickly and lets you (or, in the case of a meeting pass, anyone in your meeting) attend all of the programs we hold over the course of the year.
We have started “Radical Quakerism: from Roots to Fruits”, a new program of Quaker Center on the Road, our offsite program that travels to your meeting or worship group. It’s been well-received at all the meetings that Bob and Kathy have visited thus far: Chico, Grass Valley, Redwood Forest, and Berkeley. Future engagements for the program include Santa Barbara and Humbolt meetings, and we are currently working with Honolulu, Mexico City, Reno, and Delta monthly meetings as possible venues later this year or early next year. We are excited about this enthusiastic response from Friends. We are seeking financial support not just from participant meetings in the program, but from potential donors to Quaker Center who feel inspired to support this traveling ministry. Please come to our Radical Quakerism interest group this afternoon to learn more, and pick up a brochure from our display table.
Maintenance continues apace at Quaker Center; our maintenance manager David Forbes and his part-time helper work to not just maintain, but improve the Center. We’ve made several improvements this year to the Orchard Lodge, including new on-demand hot water heaters for the dormitories, and we’re investing in insulated doors for the dormitories as well. One project we’re evaluating, but not yet certain about how to finance, is a significant road resurfacing project: we’ve received bids to resurface all of the roads at Quaker Center, and pave the Orchard Lodge and Redwood Lodge parking lots. Our board’s Buildings and Grounds and Development Committees are evaluating ways to pay for this project, and suggestions (or matching grants!) would be more than welcome.
Last year, I mentioned that we had some challenges with a neighbor, who has performed a great deal of unpermitted construction and is holding gatherings in violation of his facility’s use permit. Unfortunately, his behavior has continued, often leading to noisy weekend afternoons and evenings up by the Casa and down at the Redwood Circle as sound travels from his facility to ours. After several attempts to engage with him directly, we began working with the county, which is now in the process of enforcing both the requirements for building permits and revisiting his site use permit to bring him into compliance. It’s not clear what the outcome will be, but we remain hopeful that with the county’s help we can reach a settlement that works for all parties.
Quaker Center’s board is healthy, with committees meeting monthly by phone and in person at the board meeting four times a year to chart our future and examine issues raised by the staff and committees. Many hands make light work, and if you’re interested in serving on the board, please speak to a member of our Nominating Committee, or ask the Quarter’s Nominating Committee to get you in touch with a member of our board.
Respectfully submitted by Ray Rischpater, outgoing clerk from 2013-2014.