Monday, March 28, 2011

The Peace Abbey Needs Our Help

The Peace Abbey
On It's Beautiful Grounds In Sherborn, Massachusetts

Abbey Guesthouse

March 27, 2011

Dear Supporters, Shareholders and Friends:

I am writing to inform you of our current situation which I ask that you hold in your prayers.

The Life Experience School for special needs children and young adults, founded in 1972 as my alternative service as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, is near bankruptcy. As you know, The Life Experience School created The Peace Abbey following Mother Teresa's visit in 1988, and has since that time carried the financial responsibility of the Abbey operation.

With further cuts in the state human service budget and a steady decline in contributions due to the economic crisis and a persistent, world-wide recession, the following notice is sadly given: Middlesex Savings Bank, which holds The Life Experience School mortgage ($63,000) and the line-of-credit ($303,000) has notified us through their attorney that we are in default and have been given 30 days to resolve our financial impasse. We are moving forward with a forbearance agreement with the bank that will put a hold on monthly payments through the end of May.

Over the past few years, our financial situation has been, at best, fragile. Shareholders, through the interest-free loan program and the donation program, contributed over $377,000 and are responsible, along with countless other contributors, for helping to lift the financial burden that The Life Experience School has carried. Over the past twenty-three years, monies that could have been used to establish an endowment for The Life Experience School have instead been devoted to creating and maintaining The Peace Abbey. As a result, The Life Experience School is at risk of closing.

At this point in time, we have but few viable options as we move forward. One solution would be to sell one of the two Abbey buildings, owned by The Life Experience School, in order to prevent the School's bankruptcy. This is what we have agreed to do in order to address the default status of our loans with the Bank. Another option is to raise enough money to pay off the mortgage, and line-of-credit which is a much more desirable option, though highly unlikely to happen in time to stave off an impending foreclosure. Yet, if we were successful, we would hold the mortgage free and clear on the School and Abbey properties and no longer be beholden to a bank for our existence.

Thinking into the future -- a new updated Abbey website is being created by a wonderful volunteer, and we are planning to launch a major social media funding campaign using Facebook and Twitter. Other volunteer fundraising professionals are working with me to develop strategies to ensure a reliable stream of revenue going forward. But these measures will take time. And time, like money, is in short supply. Should the Abbey property end up being sold, shareholders are to be assured that all loans as well as monies donated for the furnace fund will be repaid in full.

I am writing, not to ask for another donation, but for your assistance in reaching out to those who are capable of making major contributions. Countless smaller donations to the School and Abbey, like those that have sustained us for two decades, quite frankly, will not solve our financial crisis in time. So having done your part already, I am now asking that you pass the word to those who sit on boards of institutions, foundations and trusts and humbly call upon them to do their part to save The Peace Abbey and The Life Experience School. If the Abbey is to exist into the future without The Life Experience School's financial support and ownership, it will take a foundation, family trust or wealthy individual to save these institutions with a tax-deductive gift of $366,000 to retire the two outstanding debts of $63,000 and $303,000.

Please keep The Peace Abbey in your prayers and feel free to contact me if you have any questions, ideas or suggestions. Thank you.



Lewis Randa
Founder / Director
The Life Experience School (1972)
The Peace Abbey (1988)

P.S. It has been suggested, in addition to reaching out to everyone who can help, that Peace Abbey supporters contact Ellen DeGeneres through her webpage (THE ELLEN SHOW) as it offers the viewing public an opportunity to suggest ways in which she might help a worthy organization. As you know, Ellen is extremely generous, is committed to peace and social justice and just happens to be an animal lover; vegan even! Her webpage offers an opportunity to tell her about someone or a place in 1500 characters or less: THE ELLEN SHOW. Feel free to say whatever you'd like about the Life Experience School and Peace Abbey as it may resonate with her and help might be around the corner. It's worth a try.

Keep the Abbey in your prayers.

Mother Teresa

"My prayer is that The Life Experience School continues to prepare its children to become peacemakers in our troubled world - the true peace that comes from loving and caring and respecting the rights of everyone - my brother, my sister." Mother Teresa

As the world watches the power of nonviolent revolution succeed in Tunisia and Egypt, we once again see the strength in the principles that we all hold so dear.

Yet, military contractors continue to profit in the billions through arming the world into an alliance of violence, while The Life Experience School's Peace Abbey, which exists to promote the study and practice of nonviolence, is unable to meet its mortgage obligation and is on the verge of foreclosure. This irony seems somehow fitting as our country is now involved in 3 wars under the leadership of a president who received a Nobel Peace Prize and was elected with the resounding support of the peace movement.

The Peace Abbey is needed now more than ever.

Please feel free to copy and paste this message to an email
and pass it on ....

The Peace Abbey
2 N. Main Street
Sherborn, MA 01770

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