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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Omega Suspends Rhinebeck Programs until 2021

After originally announcing that it would delay the opening of its Rhinebeck campus until June 28, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies has now extended the delay until 2021. Omega CEO Robert “Skip” Backus said in a statement that the Institute’s commitment to protecting the well-being of its staff, faculty and participants, as well as the larger community, was central to the decision, as was the need to adhere to New York’s phased approach and timeline for re-opening businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the most challenging yet necessary decision Omega has ever had to make,” said Backus, who’s been with the nonprofit for more than 35 years. “The yearning to get back to normal is natural, but gathering places like ours have a responsibility to put safety first.”
While it’s temporarily closing its physical campus, Omega is ramping up its online learning, building its digital community and leverage partnerships to reach a wider global audience with fewer barriers to access. Omega’s leadership team will also focus on energizing the 2021 campus experience, to bring in programs focused on healing from trauma and grief, stoking creativity, reimagining personal and professional futures and reinvigorating the culture.
“There is a profound opportunity to learn from the pandemic,” Backus said. “As we turn towards the recovery, Omega is committed to bringing forward critical conversations and teachings—programs that will help people gain the skills to open their minds and hearts and develop resilience, wisdom and courage. Developing these kinds of inner skills leads us outward into more meaningful connections with all people, all of life, and to the planet itself.”
The organization expressed a goal of using partnerships and technology to further scale its impact and advance solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems. Online offerings aimed at uplifting the human spirit and providing strength and inspiration have already begun, including conversations with top teachers, online courses, a podcast and the Omega online community. 
“We are grateful to our teachers for rallying and to our participants for their flexibility and interest in having a virtual Omega experience,” Backus said. “At a time when the wisdom of our teachers is so vitally needed, we are thrilled to offer new options.”   
However, Omega estimates that pausing its in-person events will result in a multimillion-dollar fiscal deficit that will pose a threat to its future and impact the many farms, vendors and suppliers it works with regionally. This comes on the heels of serious cost-cutting measures the nonprofit has already taken, including reducing staff salaries and hours and implementing furloughs. 
In response, Omega is launching a special fundraising campaign to enable it to continue its mission to “awaken the best in the human spirit.” Those interested in making a donation should visit or email [email protected] for more information.

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