Message from the EHZC Board of Directors
Dear Empty Hand Sangha,
On Sunday, March 18th, 2018, the Empty Hand Zen Center held its annual Community Meeting, with participating members sharing lively discussion about ways to support current members, welcome those new to practice, and enrich our programs.
The status and progress of Sangha activities were shared by Board members and the members of individual Center committees.
Treasurer Elena Falcone reported that Empty Hand ended 2017 in a “better than projected” financial situation, the result of both reduced expenses in the last quarter of the year and the generous response of community members to our annual fundraising appeal. Last year’s primary income was generated through contributions from our 35 pledged members and more than 57 additional “donation box” supporters; additional money was also raised in connection with the sale of the Susan Jion Postal tribute book, “Fallen Blossoms,” and through Zendo events.
For 2018, Elena projects that the Center’s secured pledges will pay slightly over half our operating budget; additional donations and our ability to use available operating funds (if necessary) should enable the smooth continuation of Center activity. She notes that this budget does not include any new expenses related to building improvement or expansion to either programming or outreach, which remains integral to sustaining the community’s energy and financial viability.
Empty Hand Zen Center financial statements are available to members.
Deb Wood, representing the Building & Grounds committee, notes a generally smooth building operation. Of current concern is a passive vent leak that needs to be repaired. The Center’s garden is currently undergoing a reconfiguration that needs to be monitored and finished for the spring growing season. Our last capital improvement was brickwork done at the beginning of 2017.
Paula Borsody of the Outreach Committee highlighted the committee’s continued efforts to help publicize Center activities and encourage new participation at Zendo events. Paid listings/advertisements were placed in the Westchester Community Guide, the Tricycle Magazine Directory of Meditation Centers, and Lion’s Roar and Buddhadharma Magazine Review. Paula noted that last year’s ads were made available through donation (not from Empty Hand funds).
Wednesday (“beginner’s night”) listings were also placed in the Shoreline Publishing local papers through April, and a press release offering information on our new Guiding Teacher is planned, along with an effort to secure coverage by the local papers. As she continues her Outreach service this year, Paula is seeking members to assist with further e-calendar placements and outreach!
Our Ethics and Reconciliation committee recapped their experience supporting our community and highlighted the need for continued diligence to ensure Sangha members feel respected and safe, and have a confidential forum to discuss any issues that may arise. It was noted that additional professional guidance may be desired to help support the work of this committee, a potential development that will be explored this coming year.
Kaku Robert Gunn offered his appreciation for joining us as Empty Hand's Guiding Teacher and outlined the myriad opportunities we share in continuing to build a nurturing, sustainable, and supportive community together. He highlighted the immediate focus we can offer to help develop programming, membership, retreats (full Sesshins and shorter Zazenkais), and study programs, and outlined his desire to offer guest speakers the opportunity to present dharma talks.
Sangha participation and involvement emerged as an important keystone in our development together. For example, with regard to the evolution and refinement of Empty Hand's liturgy, Kaku shared:
"We have already begun a review of liturgy: the forms of our practice, how we sit, move, chant, bow and with what kind of awareness we do them...I would like to review them with you to come up with our very own style, the Empty Hand version of liturgy practice. I would like this to be a sangha-wide endeavor, so when you read or hear about the liturgy trainings, know that everyone is welcome and encouraged, because you are ultimately the ones who engage the practices."
It was announced that Frank Raddock, Jeff Silver and Deb Wood have completed their extended terms as Board members; as they step down from their roles, their long and untiring service was unanimously appreciated and applauded!
In honor of his seven years of service on the Board, which included fulfilling the dual role of Board Chair and Zen Center President, Jeff Silver was made the first honorary Permanent Member of the Sangha. He offered poignant reminiscences of his years of service, closing his comments with sincere expressions of thanks, and the Sangha responded with heartfelt gratitude for his service - and a delicious cake celebration!
Bruce Demaree, Deborah Silver, and Hillary Volper were elected to two-year terms as new members of the Board, joining the three continuing members Paula Borsody, Chris Dee, and Elena Falcone.
The Empty Hand Zen Center Board plans on meeting the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., with their first meeting scheduled for March 20th.
***Unless specifically noted in advance (on rare occasion, sensitive topics may require "closed" Board meetings) all are always welcome to attend!
If there are specific topics you'd like to see the Board address, please reach out to any Board member with your suggestions. We intend to reach out to the community for volunteer committee members who can move ideas and projects forward - please let us know if you would like to fulfill these important roles!
The Empty Hand Zen Center Board of Directors
Chris Dee (Chairperson)
Bruce Demaree (Secretary)
Elena Falcone (Treasurer)
Kaku Robert Gunn