I am standing in solidarity with all who have been affected by COVID-19. And with each and every person who calls Omega “home.”
I recently shared news that Omega would delay our Rhinebeck campus opening until June 28. Regretfully, this is no longer possible. New York State has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus, and our Governor has announced a phased approach to reopening businesses that we must adhere to.
We do not know with certainty how this will continue to unfold. However, given what we do know, and with the understanding that gathering places like ours have a responsibility to protect public health, Omega will be suspending all of our Rhinebeck campus programs in 2020. This is the most challenging yet necessary decision we have ever had to make.
Our global community is experiencing an unparalleled set of circumstances. The spread of the coronavirus and the economic ramifications have touched every person, every business and organization, all over the world. Omega is no different. We are a large community—hundreds of staff and teachers, tens of thousands of workshop participants, and the many others who contribute to making Omega the place we have all grown to love and rely on, including the farmers who grow our food, the vendors we purchase supplies from, and construction crews that renovate our campus. The closing of our Hudson Valley campus adversely affects more people than we even know.
We are taking a pause, but we are not resting. We are energized to use the pause in campus programming to do deep strategic thinking, and build a new vision for how Omega and our teachers can help provide hope and healing to individuals and society. We plan to focus organizational resources on creating 2021 programming that will provide skills and inspiration for healing from trauma and grief, stoking creativity, reimagining personal and professional futures, and reinvigorating the culture.
Omega is needed now, possibly more urgently than ever before. The high volume of calls and emails we are receiving is a poignant reminder of our commitment to all those who depend on us. We are working diligently to create pathways to provide this support, and the spirit of community that is so vital. We have already begun to introduce new opportunities online, for you to stay connected to Omega and many of your favorite teachers. We urge you to share our offerings with family and friends who may be struggling at this difficult time.
As a nonprofit, Omega’s financial position is extremely vulnerable. Now that we are not opening the campus in 2020 we anticipate a multimillion dollar fiscal deficit. In addition to reducing staff hours and salaries and implementing a first round of furloughs, even more aggressive steps may need to be taken.
In the truest spirit of the Omega community, many are asking how they can help. What we need at this time are resources to enable us to remain intact and able to provide the relevant programs that are so needed today. If you believe in our mission and want to help Omega thrive throughout these unprecedented times, please consider making a donation by visiting eOmega.org/givetoday, or email development@eOmega.org for more information.
For those who are currently registered for a program, you will be contacted by Omega Registration within 2-3 weeks. We greatly appreciate your understanding and patience as our Registration staff is working as quickly as possible to reach everyone by email.
The collective challenges we are facing as a human family are historic, but we don’t have to face this alone. Let’s draw upon each other’s wisdom and strength, as well as our own inner resources to find resilience and compassion. Although there is discomfort in the unknown, there is also tremendous opportunity for personal growth and creativity to arise.
Now is the time to take all the skills we’ve been teaching at Omega for more than 40 years, and put them into practice. From staying open-hearted, to being present for each other, to being mindful of how our actions affect others. We each have an important role to play, in awakening the best in the human spirit. Together, we will.
Robert "Skip" Backus
Omega Institute CEO
© 2020 Omega Insitute for Holistic Studies