Dear Center Family and Friends,
Jai Meher Baba, warm greetings and love to all of you. On the front cover of this brief summer update is a photograph, taken years ago by Doug Frank, of a tranquil wooded spot, an image of the grace and beauty that remains undisturbed and deeply reflective of Meher Baba’s presence here. Malcolm Clay, caretaker of the Center grounds for the past 45 years, has retired this May. We include this photo to honor his work and his dedication—as he would say, his “opportunity”----his gentle nurturing of nature, his protection of the delicate balance that must be preserved, and his steady hand on the natural process of constant change. He will be around, we know, to help with the transition of his work, but he is already deeply missed.
News from the Board of Directors
From Daniel Stone, Board member:
Over the past few years, the Center has been working toward the creation of a master plan. Last year, different scenarios for this plan were widely shared with the Meher Baba family, and the feedback that was generated has been carefully considered. Over the next year or so, the Board will be engaged in finalizing the plan. The level of attention that is being given to this effort is a reflection of how precious the Center is for all of us. The master plan is intended to guide the development of the Center for many years to come, so that it can best accommodate all of those who Baba draws here in His love.
From Bruce Felknor, Board member and chair of the Board’s ad hoc Security Committee:
Last February, the Board instituted a committee to review Center security and safety. It had its inaugural meeting on April 23. Comprised of board members, Center staff, volunteers and friends of the Center, the committee will seek expert assistance to both appraise and identify enhancements to current security policies and procedures in order to ensure the safety of Center guests and workers, its sacred places and treasures. The committee is expected to conclude its work before the end of the year.
Arsenio Rodriguez, Board member, chair of the Board's ad hoc Environmental Management Committee:
Established by the Board in the fall of 2015, this committee has been gathering and reviewing research reports and expert advice from scientists from Eastern Carolina University, the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of North Carolina, independent forestry experts and conservation experts from The Nature Conservancy, addressing various issues affecting both Long Lake and the forest. Their expertise combined with the local knowledge accumulated by staff and volunteers that have worked at the Center for many years, has increased the understanding of the environmental management issues that are presently affecting the Center's ecosystems. We still need to conduct more verification studies to determine the precise source of excess nutrients in the lake and implement a long term managerial response, but we are closer now to the implementation of remedial measures. Concerning the forest and its management to primarily reduce the risk of wildfires, we are considering a program to reduce debris in critical points of the Center that contribute significantly to the fuel load and risk of forest fire. In the meantime, a new larger water line is currently being installed to support fire hydrants for fire emergencies, and vegetation setbacks have been established around all Center structures.
From the Board’s Support Committee, Chairman Buz Connor:
In response to an informational flyer on Planned Giving, sent out in November of 2015, over forty individuals and couples have informed us that Meher Center will be remembered in their wills. One of the main purposes of the Support Committee is to focus on increasing the Center’s savings and endowment funds to help build, by Baba’s grace, a more secure financial future. Please remember Meher Center as you consider your estate planning in the future.
From Wendy Haynes Connor, Board member:
Those of you who have visited the Center this spring will have noticed significant progress in construction of a disabled access ramp at Meher Abode. The beautiful brickwork, (carefully chosen to match the original), is now complete. The handrails have been designed and fabrication is underway. Work is being completed to restore the natural landscaping and create safe access to the bottom of the ramp. Until this work is completed and the handrails are in place, it will continue to be blocked off.
About the Barn: As most of you know, the Barn was seriously vandalized last January. Since then, we have taken this disturbing event as an opportunity; a gift, to not only make all the repairs required, but also to bring the Barn back to its original condition when it was reconstructed on the Center in the late 40’s for use during Baba’s visits in the 1950’s. This work has included: replacement of all broken glass and torn screens, repairs and rebuilding of damaged window sashes, rebuilding of the wagon wheel fixture, roof repair and replacement, interior repairs and painting, exterior siding repairs, furniture restoration and repairs, and photo replacements. The damage was extensive; there is still much work to be done, but we are well on our way to restoring this special place!
Other priority maintenance projects since the beginning of the year were roof repair and replacement on the storage building by Meher Abode; completion of the initial fuel mitigation project around all Center structures; planning and preparations for the new larger waterline and fire hydrant installation.
Archive work this spring has been primarily focused on restoration and repair of furnishings from the Barn. In April, an archival photo display of Meher Baba in the Barn was created for the Meeting Place. Also, listening copies of audio tapes from the 1960s and 70s have been put on CDs for the Library. They include talks by Elizabeth, Kitty, Darwin, Fred Winterfeldt, and others, all on the topic of the history and early days of the Center. What a treasure!
During the past months: Tom Riley spoke on Amartithi evening; three short plays by Joe DiSabatino were performed for Baba's Birthday; Kavas Arjani spoke in May about his family's long association with Baba; Bill and Diana LePage arrived in April, and Bill will continue to share his times with Baba throughout their stay here.
Coming up this summer: Youth Sahavas, June 28 to July 3; Charles Haynes and Christopher Wilson will present a special program about Norina Matchabelli on June 24; Hardeep Hanspal will speak about his times with Baba in July.
**Special note** July 22, 23 and 24: A program focused on Stay With God by Francis Brabazon, presented by Ward Parks. This program offers those interested an opportunity to delve deeply into Meher Baba’s life and message through study of this extraordinary book. There will be two 2-hour sessions each day (10am-12; 2pm-4). If you are staying at the Center over that weekend, you are welcome to attend; if you live nearby and wish to participate, please contact the Dilruba office at 843-272-8793 by June 20th as seating will be limited.
Once again we will be using the lottery process for holiday reservations. If you would like reservations any time from Friday, December 16, 2016, through Monday, January 2, 2017, send the form included with this newsletter to the Gateway. An explanation of the process is on the form. If you want to be included in the lottery drawing, we must receive your form by Friday, September 16, 2016.
(Click here to download the Holiday Reservations Form)
A note of donation interest: If when shopping on Amazon, you sign into your account from this web address - http://smile.amazon.com/ch/57-0422620 one half of one percent of the purchase price of what you buy will be donated to the Center by Amazon.
A reminder about the gate at the beach: When you visit the Center, please be aware that we are now using the same lock on the gate at the Beach as is used on the front entrance gate to the Center. The beach gate is kept locked at all times, just like the front entrance gate, so you should always have the key with you when you go to the beach. You need to unlock and relock the beach gate each time you pass through it, just like the front entrance.
By Meher Baba’s grace, the Center thrives, and He continues to offer all of us the great privilege of participating in the ongoing life of His Home in the West----retreat guests, visitors, staff, volunteers, friends and neighbors. He only asks that we do our best in caring for His western home, in harmony and with love, and leave the rest to Him.
With our love in Baba,
Ann Edelman, Presiding Officer, for the Meher Center Board of Directors: Annie Hall, Arsenio Rodriguez, Wendy Haynes Connor, Bruce Felknor, Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Jo Taylor, Meherwan Irani, Geri Layne Craddock, Daniel Stone and Adi Blum.
Click here to download the Holiday Reservations
Form to make a reservation request during the latter half of December.