Omega in Action | Omega

Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

A Message From Omega’s CEO on Earth Day

2 days 3 hours ago

Dear Friends,

It is fitting that the focus of Earth Day campaign this year is environmental literacy. Education is the key to creating an understanding of our environmental challenges. Knowledge, leading to a change in mindset, will give us the tools and resolve to address the many complicated issues we face.

Literacy, as it pertains to the environment, is not just the study of climate change, but rather a deeply woven study of life. At Omega our core principle is the interconnected and interdependent nature of life. We believe that the well-being of each of us is deeply connected to the well-being of all living things. As an educational institution we teach this in our classes and model it in our operations.

It’s imperative that as we focus on literacy we take an intersectional and holistic approach and speak to the connectivity of many related issues. For instance, we can’t address air and water quality without addressing how we source energy. 

We can’t really address health care unless we address poverty and racism. It’s time to recognize that issues such as economics, migration, food security, and even terrorism are links in the same chain of environmental destruction.

At a time when the new administration is demonstrating that it will promote private and corporate interests at the expense of the environment and our health, it is important that we educate ourselves and act as an informed constituency. Let’s employ our individual and collective efforts to preserve hard-fought environmental victories and chart an even more inclusive and impactful path forward.

Now is the time to seize the momentum and send a clear message that we will not accept policies that harm the well-being of people and the planet.

Omega will be at the People’s Climate March on Washington on April 29. Let us know if you're going. I hope to see you there.

With appreciation,

Robert Backus's Signature

Robert "Skip" Backus 
Chief Executive Officer 
Omega Institute

One Educator’s Mindful Mission

3 weeks 2 days ago

Research shows that educators and students can benefit from mindfulness practices in the areas of stress, attention, depression, anxiety, hostility, and academic performance. And stories coming from classrooms around the world confirm that mindfulness works.

Omega's pioneering Mindfulness & Education conferences and professional trainings—which have hosted more than 1,200 participants, nearly 200 of whom have received scholarships—offer support for teachers and students through the application of mindfulness principles to the classroom. 

One Educator's Journey to Bring Mindfulness to the Classroom

Educator Amelia Gallagher has experienced the benefits of mindfulness for herself and her students firsthand. Her participation at Omega's conferences gave her inspiration and then support to make a difference in the lives of students with significant challenges. She launched her first mindfulness classroom at the LaSalle School in Albany, New York, in 2016.

But her journey has not been easy. Working in education for a decade, both as a guidance counselor and administrator, she began feeling lost and burnt out from so much day-to-day minutia and regulations at her job. She attended her first Mindfulness & Education conference on scholarship in 2012.

“It absolutely blew my doors in and gave me hope that I could bring this work into the school system and into my career,” she said.

When she returned to her job, she said she was told that this kind of work in the classroom was “too progressive to be brought into a regulated setting.” So while she loved everything she learned, she put it in the back of her mind and carried on. She eventually left that job and started working at LaSalle in January of 2015, just four years after attending her first professional training at Omega. 

Today, Gallagher works as the assistant director for day services at the school, which serves more than 200 6th- through 12th-grade boys and their families. LaSalle offers programs and services for youth and families in crisis, including programs such as specialized residential placement, day service education, and alternative to detention services.

New Beginnings & Personal Practice

In the summer of 2016, the LaSalle school became one of 10 organizations in the country to receive a Change of Mind grant to look at how groundbreaking brain-science research can transform policies for some of the most difficult social issues facing our communities. Gallagher returned to Omega that summer for the Mindfulness in Education Teacher Training.

“Those six days were life-changing,” she said. “I went to the workshop not knowing what to expect. There were 50 people from all over the world working with students from pre-school to college. But by the end of the first half of the day, we were a cohesive group.”

She said the training cracked her open again.

“What I’m supposed to bring to my profession came as a loud and clear message: my own personal practice. I can’t be a teacher without being a practitioner and I’ve been steadily growing my own practice since then.”

When she came back to LaSalle, she started incorporating mindfulness practices with her own staff of five people, doing meditation and movement, taking the lessons she learned at Omega and applying them at a bi-weekly meeting.

Micro-Mindfulness

Gallagher picked one classroom to implement mindfulness tools, using The Mindful Education Workbook by Daniel Rechtschaffen. The 7th and 8th graders in that classroom have a range of issues, including low cognitive abilities, low education scores, kindergarten-level reading ability, significant mental health issues, and sexual trauma. They are not comfortable with themselves or their bodies.

“This classroom has a certified special education teacher, a social worker, and me,” she said. “It’s a classroom with some of the most complex kids.”

She started with 10 minutes each week and has been growing their time together and tracking their data.

“I call it micro-mindfulness,” Gallagher said. “We have kids who have so many occupational needs that they can’t sit still. So to see these kids participate…it’s absolutely miraculous.”

The kids have said the mindful exercises help them connect with their feelings and relax both their body and mind. After this successful experience with her first classroom, Gallagher says she is working to roll it out to more kids at the school in 2017.

Additionally, she has joined a diverse, supportive group of about 40 professionals, all mindful practitioners in her region, to keep organizing and give momentum to the movement.

Scholarships are available for this year's Mindfulness & Education Conference. Apply by June 2. 

Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition Reaffirms Commitment to New York State Residents

1 month 1 day ago

Coalition Continues Mission to Inform and Represent Utility Customers in Proceeding

HUDSON VALLEY— The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC) in 2015, after a lengthy legal and public relations campaign, gained significant concessions from the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and developers regarding their proposed $1 billion transmission project, securing promises that the work would be done without the use of eminent domain and that potential towers would conform to the existing right-of-way in both width and height.  While these concessions are important, they are merely promises which have not been codified into any law or statute, and thus should receive our continued vigilance.

HVSEC also presented evidence during the proceeding that demonstrated these transmission upgrades failed a basic cost-benefit analysis and were not needed, but the PSC sidestepped the debate by qualifying the projects as necessary based on public policy needs, a rarely-used procedural tactic that is subjective in nature.  Now, the project continues and HVSEC remains committed to keeping a close eye on the next phase and informing the public of all new developments.

The “wins” for Hudson Valley residents

The HVSEC and citizens who joined its campaign produced compelling scientific and technical findings that led the PSC to transform its regulatory framework for the project. One early success was persuading the agency to incorporate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s preference for lines within existing, rather than new, rights-of-way. Expert reports commissioned by the HVSEC on the project’s negative visual and environmental impacts led the PSC to eliminate design options that posed more serious threats.

Despite these victories, there are no guarantees transmission lines will be built to this standard. The process is far from over and warrants continued monitoring to ensure these hard-fought wins are not eroded.

HVSEC and the PSC have agreed to disagree

Since its inception, HVSEC has advocated that need should be established prior to moving forward with the project – a different order of operations than the PSC’s preferred approach.

To help contribute to the general record available to all stakeholders in the proceeding, HVSEC was awarded intervenor funding for specific quantitative research completed by energy experts and scientists.

Research delivered by these independent scientists and professionals that there is no need for additional overhead transmission lines, particularly given the established decline in electricity usage over the past five years, and projected declines for the future. HVSEC made the case that $1+ billions of ratepayer money would be better spent on projects with tangible benefits.

The PSC disagreed, and is proceeding with the project based on “public policy justifications.” The public policy process and justification is another new process for NYS. HVSEC looks forward to participating actively in this new phase.

“We are very pleased,” said Greg Quinn, spokesman for HVSEC, “that in 2016 the New York Public Service Commission publicly recognized that this project could feasibly be constructed inside existing energy corridors. We feel that without the Coalition’s intervention this recognition would not have happened. This policy, if followed, eliminates the threat of eminent domain. But final decisions about routes are not likely to be made for at least three years. HVSEC is absolutely committed to watch-dog the process, making every effort to assure that eminent domain and the prospect of ruined landscapes do not reappear.”

The decision to proceed with the project based on public policy justifications “…is disappointing,” said Quinn, “but it does not change our mission and our commitment to provide the opportunity for residents and stakeholders to participate in the process. This participation is essential to ensure appropriate oversight of government agencies and private developers as they create new processes and decide how much money New York State residents will pay.”

The Coalition will continue to facilitate efforts to build and maintain a superior, efficient, modern grid. “We want to bring people together around one table to share, educate, and create common ground,” said Quinn.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; environmental, cultural, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents who support creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for the Hudson Valley and New York State. The HVSEC was formed in 2014 to advocate for constituents and stakeholders impacted by the new high voltage overhead transmission lines proposed by the NYS PSC. The Coalition has worked for over three years to address five primary issues:

  • Threat of eminent domain, resulting in loss of homes and livelihoods
  • Loss of historic, scenic, agricultural, and natural resources in the Hudson Valley, threatening economic health
  • Lack of evidence of actual need for new overhead transmission lines
  • Driving up the cost of electric supply in a State with some of the highest electric pricing in the nation, with limited associated benefits.
  • Reliance on 19th century energy solutions instead of 21st century innovation

More information is available at www.hvsec.org.

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Omega’s Scholarship Fund Grows to Create Record Access: Scholarships Now Available for 1-in-5 Workshops

1 month 1 day ago

Omega to Award More Than $400,000 in Scholarship Opportunities for 2017 Programs

RHINEBECK, NY – Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning, announced today that more than $400,000 will be awarded in full and partial scholarships to eligible applicants for more than 80 workshops taking place on their Hudson Valley campus in 2017. Veterans, educators, those living with cancer, and women leaders are among the eligible candidates.

“Omega is committed to expanding pathways to participation through our scholarship fund,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega. “We know that our learning environment and the campus experience is enriched when a wide variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and identities are represented.” 

Omega welcomes more than 23,000 visitors to its Rhinebeck campus annually between May and October. People come for reasons big and small—from professional training to rest and rejuvenation to catalyzing personal growth and social change. Omega will offer a total of 390 workshops in 2017 spanning six learning paths: Body, Mind & Spirit; Health & Healing; Leadership & Work; Relationships & Family; Creative Expression; and Sustainable Living.

For a full list of scholarship opportunities and information on how to apply, visit eOmega.org/scholarships.

For more information visit eOmega.org, and follow Omega on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+. 

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 250 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world. eOmega.org

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Omega Celebrates International Women’s Day by Joining Global Efforts Calling for Change

1 month 2 weeks ago

International Women’s Day Events Planned for March 8, 2017

RHINEBECK, NY –At a time when women's rights are being undermined by new policy restrictions, Omega Institute joins in solidarity with millions of people around the world in celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) to call for stepping up bold action for change rather than rolling back decades of advancement for gender equality.

“As an educational institution we have seen more than 600,000 women come through our doors over the past 40 years. We have witnessed their struggles and triumphs, which led us to create the Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) in 2012, and guided us in shaping an entire curriculum designed to support women leaders in learning how to ‘Do Power Differently,’” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega and co-founder of the OWLC.  “Over the next year we will grow our support for women, organizations, and efforts on the front line of advancing change through a range of innovative programs.”

IWD began at the turn of the 20th century in a global effort to bring attention to the unfair working conditions of women, build support for universal suffrage, and end gender discrimination. While much progress has been made since then, there is much left to do, and many women, particularly women of color and poor and working class women, have been left behind in the gains achieved.

“The emphasis of this year’s celebration is on bringing attention to women’s economic inequality,” said Goldstein. “It’s time to make deeper strides in closing the gender pay gap and recognizing women’s unpaid care and domestic work. We also have to do more to create economic policies for job creation, poverty reduction, and sustainable, inclusive growth that serves the needs of women.”

On March 8, 2017, Omega and the OWLC will participate in two events:

  1. A DAY WITHOUT A WOMAN, a Women’s March Initiative, to take international collective action for equity, justice, and human rights for women. As a nonprofit organization working on behalf of these issues, Omega has created a paid “Civic Participation” personal day off for any employee who wishes to honor this day.
  2.  “MAKE IT HAPPEN: Celebrate International Women’s Day,” an initiative of New York’s Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Leadership Alliance, to educate people on women’s issues, inspire action, and create pathways for involvement.

For more information visit eOmega.org, and follow Omega on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.  #IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange #DayWithoutAWoman #OWLC #DoPowerDifferently

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 250 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world. eOmega.org

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Veterans Share Their Yoga Retreat Experience

1 month 3 weeks ago

For more than 20 years, Omega has offered hope and healing to veterans and their family members dealing with issues related to post-traumatic stress, often referred to as an invisible wound. Each year, veterans come to campus to attend trainings and workshops on resiliency and healing trauma that focus on complementary and alternative medicine modalities.

In the summer of 2016, 10 male veterans came to Omega on scholarships for a weeklong yoga retreat. 

Drew, who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq in both 2007 and 2008, came to help heal both his mind and his body. Dealing with a brain injury and post-traumatic stress, he was looking for a holistic way to reset his nervous system.

Drew says returning to civilian life was much harder than his service, and he was not prepared for the difficult transition.

“You get caught up and lost, and then you have friends taking their own life,” he said. “I needed somewhere to reset.”

“One of the symptoms, they say, of suffering from a brain injury or having post-traumatic stress, is that you feel like you have no future,” he said. “I would have thought that you were silly to say you’re going to heal all of these terrible things. But it [the workshop] honestly has been the biggest healer for me—just learning more about myself and what my own body needs. Doing this workshop has honestly given me more of a future than I would have ever hoped for.”

Benefits of Yoga for Veterans

Guided by adaptive yoga teacher Annie Okerlin and veteran Nicholas Caris, the veterans in the workshop learned how to modify yoga postures to accommodate unique physical limitations and ailments, including chronic pain, joint and spinal pain, neck and shoulder discomfort, and amputations.

“Yoga has extraordinary benefits for anyone who has been injured, but specifically when we’re dealing with the mind-body connection,” Okerlin said. “When people are first traumatically injured, the care is usually focused on the body level. So they’re healing the wounds, learning how to walk again if there’s been an amputation, dealing with the cognitive issues if there’s a brain injury. They get the body moving again and off they’re sent. The reality of the deeper element, the unseen injury, can be so challenging with regards to reintegration into home life and into community.”  

The group also practiced iRest (Integrative Restoration) sessions daily, which is a technique endorsed by the U.S. Army Surgeon General and offered at military hospitals throughout the country. The practice is based on the ancient practice of Yoga Nidra, and helps promote deep relaxation, awareness, and acceptance of everything as it is.

“With yoga we learn techniques to settle back into the self, whatever that is now,” Okerlin said. “Maybe it’s a different experience from prior to injury, but we begin to really use the tools of breath, centering, and focus to welcome ourselves exactly as we are right that moment.”

Ray & David's Yoga Retreat Experience

Another scholarship attendee named Ray, who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969, said that despite his anxiety about being in group settings, he was able to find some peace.

“I’m a recluse, and I generally don’t like being around people, but knowing that I was coming into a group of veterans let me know I was on an even playing field,” he said. “This particular workshop helped me just be okay with things the way they are right now. I have anxiety issues, so I can easily get wrapped up in the garbage that’s going on around me and feel very unsettled all the time. But doing yoga helps me get back here now, and to relax.”

Another veteran, David, spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy and said he didn’t have any yoga experience coming into the retreat. In fact, his sister enrolled him, telling him to clear his calendar and take the week off work. He was more surprised than anyone to participate and see the benefits.

“I am very fortunate to have a sister that cares about me a lot and participates in yoga,” David said. “It’s hard for me to stay asleep for a long time, and to find out I was one of the longest ones sleeping afterward…and I didn’t even know it! It was a huge eye-awakening experience for me to learn that I can let go. By the end we were all smiling, which wasn’t how we showed up.”

Research confirms the benefits of yoga and other relaxation practices for veterans and those who are dealing with post-traumatic stress.

“It’s really simple to just try yoga,” Caris, also a veteran, said. “All it takes is showing up and being there with yourself. Trust your breath and listen to your body. Be kind to your own self. That’s where everything starts. And once you go once, keep going. It only gets better with each practice and each moment that you’re with yourself on a mat.”

Scholarships for the Veterans Yoga Retreat for Men, June 18-23, 2017, are now available. Applications are due May 8, 2017.

 

Radical Results From Kelly Turner Workshop

2 months 6 days ago

Thousands of people have overcome cancer against incredible odds, and Kelly Turner has made a career out of studying these cases—1,500 of them and counting. She calls it radical remission, or people who have experienced a complete reversal of a serious or terminal cancer diagnosis.

In October 2016, she led a workshop at Omega for more than 60 people, teaching the nine key healing factors that she discovered can help people heal, including changing eating habits, lowering stress, strengthening intuition, and developing a daily spiritual practice.

Being In the Right Place at the Right Time

Anna Hutchinson received scan results the night before she arrived at Omega. Her cancer had spread, again.

At the age of 38, Hutchinson was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, which can be hard to treat and has a 5-year survival rate of about 11 percent. She is now four years into her healing journey and searching for answers after conventional treatments have not stopped the spread of cancer in her body.

“In my heart, I’ve always felt that there’s a natural cure for cancer,” the scholarship attendee told Omega. “If my body created it, my body can also heal it.”

Hutchinson had a magic moment upon arriving at Omega. At registration, a young girl caught her eye. She said she was at Omega for a mother-daughter workshop happening that weekend, too. It turns out her name was Sage, which is the name of her daughter who passed 15 years ago from a brain tumor. Sage’s mom name was Anna.

“Every hair stood up on my body,” Hutchinson said. “I knew it was a miracle right there and I was in the right place.”

She had experimented with healthy eating before coming to Omega but said she learned so much at the workshop and from the meals at the Dining Hall.

“One thing that really struck me is that only two of the healing factors have to do with diet, the other seven are all emotional and spiritual,” she said.

Hutchinson explored those factors in a morning yoga session. She was surprised she was able to get through the class and later that afternoon realized that her ongoing pain had subsided. She credits not only the yoga teacher but also the environment at Omega.

“The energy is so different at Omega," she said. "Life is so simplified and it’s wonderful to be surrounded by nature. I didn’t want to leave. You know so many vacations leave you with that feeling of needing a vacation, but I felt like I wanted to stay. To be able to see and hear from those who have beat the odds was just life changing.”

Taking a Dance Break

Maria Marewski, another scholarship attendee who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, echoed Hutchinson's sentiment about coming to the workshop. She chose an unconventional route for healing, rejecting chemo, radiation, and surgery.

“Going this route has been a lonely journey in that it is so hard to find people to connect with whom I can even talk to about cancer from this perspective, let alone find professionals in the field who will support this approach,” Marewski said. "There's an aura of hysteria about it and a lot of people project onto me their own fears about it. It was so good to be in this room with a lack of judgment and feeling connected to such a supportive community." 

She was surprised that one of her favorite moments from the workshop was a dance break.

"There was a moment when we all danced and it lifted the energy of the whole room," she said. "Those feelings of well-being were exactly what we all needed. I felt really motivated from that."

After the workshop, she says she’s now more aware of her daily life patterns and how to improve them, including taking more time for self-care.

"Kelly really got me thinking about the result of my habits each day, especially the habits of thinking and feeling," she said. "I really got to look at my patterns. I feel boosted from connecting to others who are seeking an alternative path. I left feeling connected, inspired, grateful, and really hopeful."

The Radical Remission workshop will be held again 10/6/17-10/8/17. Scholarships are available. 

Omega CEO Comments on New Immigration Policy

2 months 3 weeks ago

Omega Institute joins the growing number of educational organizations raising concerns about our country’s new immigration policy.

As a lifelong learning center for holistic studies, our curriculum and community come from all parts of the globe. We know from firsthand experience that the best learning comes from an environment where people feel a sense of safety, belonging, mutuality, and welcoming. We also believe that when we deepen our understanding of our common humanity, we can much more easily find solutions to problems and create more peaceful and just ways of living together.

In these days of uncertainty and unrest, we want to assure our community that we are committed to being a safe and inclusive environment for learning, and that we will do our part to work for ensuring justice and equality for all people. 

Omega Partners with TEDx: Practicing Change

2 months 3 weeks ago

How can we bring a more conscious approach to activism? How can we stand up and fight for our values and rights, while staying grounded in peace and empathy? These are the questions Omega's Chief External Affairs Officer Carla Goldstein brought to the TEDx Washington Square stage during Practicing Change.

Goldstein started her career as an activist and lawyer, to help change the systems that supported injustice and conflict. She spent a decade fighting the good fight—emphasis on fight—in public policy and women's rights, starting and ending each day working to defeat the enemy "other." A health crisis helped her realize that while she valued peace and love, her advocacy was fueled by anger and rage, and she began looking for a more integrated approach to change.

Her healing journey—which included Eastern practices like yoga, meditation, and tai chi—brought her to a greater understanding that we are all interconnected, even with "our enemies." This helped shift her perspective about our social change process, which she says "has to be both personal and structural—it's an inside and outside job.”

"The inside job is to work on healing ourselves and building the personal capacity for being peaceful and loving," says Goldstein. "And the outside job is to create structures, systems, and policies that support the well-being of everybody and the planet we share. It is a both/and. Because who we are as people shapes the structures we create, and our structures reflect who we are as people."

"Grounding in peace and love does not mean that we have to get soft," she continues. "It does not mean that we have to lose our moral discernment. It does not mean that we cannot rise up and protest in resistance together in the face of injustice and wrongdoing. But it does mean that we have to get beyond the enemy paradigm, beyond the enemy reflex, beyond the necessity to make an enemy 'other' that we can demonize."

Goldstein's talk on "practicing change" helps weave a larger narrative of the innovative ways transformation is happening around us—from the microscopic neural changes through mindfulness, to the systemic institutional changes happening in our prisons and businesses.

Other presenters include meditation teacher and best-selling author Sharon Salzberg, activist and author angel Kyodo Williams, and clothing designer Eileen Fisher.

Watch other Practicing Change presentations at TEDx Washington Square.

 

Resting & Connecting at Nonprofit Retreat Week

3 months 1 week ago

Spending time at Omega was a true gift of space, time, and healthy food, said the staff at Global Grassroots, an organization that works to catalyze women and girls as leaders of conscious social change in their communities, reaching 35,000 survivors of war and/or gender-based violence in Rwanda and Uganda annually.

The nonprofit came to Omega Institute’s Rhinebeck campus in 2016 with an intention to provide staff, who frequently travel, the opportunity for deep restoration and connection; to provide their board with a chance to get to know each other in a year of transition; and for the whole group to finalize a strategic plan for the growth and sustainability of the organization over the next five years.

Global Grassroots was just one of the more than 30 peer organizations in the nonprofit sector to come to Omega’s campus for Nonprofit Retreat Week (formerly called Service Week) in 2016.

Each year, Omega awards self-led retreats to nonprofits who need space to both work and rest so they can return to their efforts replenished and energized.

Strengthening a Literacy Consortium

Literacy Connections came to Omega in 2016 for their third working retreat. As in past years, their staff and board re-connected and planned together. But they also used the time to work on a new issue—convening the board members of four member organizations of a regional literacy consortium, which formed when a statewide network of literacy agencies closed down.

“The retreat afforded us the opportunity for great cooperation and to explore our mutual interest in partnering and collaborating,” said Marisol Rodriguez, executive director of Literacy Connections. “When the statewide network ended, it was a change we had to accept. But now after gathering, we can see the impact we can have across the Mid-Hudson Valley by supporting one another’s efforts to promote literacy and provide English as a Second Language classes to growing immigrant communities. We are learning that change has been the best thing for all of us.”

Building Effectiveness of Multidisciplinary Child's Advocacy Team

The Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) operates a children’s advocacy center that investigates, prosecutes, and treats child abuse. The many different agencies that collaborate in the center’s work also came to Omega in 2016 to strengthen the effectiveness of their multidisciplinary team.

Child Welfare Services, a different division of WIHD, had a working retreat at Omega previously, which they said helped them consolidate new experiments with mindfulness that are now incorporated into staff meetings. 

Danielle Weisberg, who works in both divisions, applied for the organization to return so they "could deepen and strengthen relationships in a way that would be nearly impossible to achieve through any other means."

After their retreat, Weisberg wrote, “Team members walked away feeling very empowered to carry the work forward. This is very important for us because we work collaboratively with many different agencies, and so having individuals take ownership of the future direction of the work is very important.”

More About Nonprofit Retreat Week

Since 2005, Nonprofit Retreat Week has welcomed to campus more than 300 organizations that work to create a more compassionate and sustainable world.

“[It] is an outstanding opportunity for nonprofits who otherwise would be unable to meet outside of the office and enjoy such wonderful amenities,” Rodriguez said.

Retreat grant applications for Nonprofit Retreat Week: Connecting a Community of Change Leaders 2017 are now available. Apply by 1/30/17. 

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