Are You Wondering How Shekinah Is Doing ... Ahem ... Financially?

Some of you have been asking, so we are telling all. Or at least some. Probably no one is interested in how many light bulbs we've replaced in 2020.

By all indications, 2020 was going to be – at least financially – a good year: school groups were booked solid, summer camp registrations were up, and the Timber Lodge had very few openings.

And then something called the corona virus hit. Seemingly overnight, all optimism went away.

Shekinah exists to be a safe, welcoming space for everyone who drives down the hill into the beautiful river valley that is Shekinah. But, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it exists for – and because of – people.

And it’s not really set up for individuals. Shekinah’s 287 acres, huge Timber Lodge, and Chalet and cabins are really made for larger groups of people to meet, create or renew relationships, love and laugh, and rejuvenate their spirits.

Which is simply not possible, when trying to stop the spread of a very contagious disease.

Everything was put on hold, cancelled, or postponed. And while many groups were able to postpone until 2021 (which, by the way, looks very good … depending on COVID-19 recovery, of course), a large number of groups asked for refunds.

As you know, when your outgoings are more than your in-comings (expenses greater than income), it’s a recipe for difficult times.

Shekinah had to make the very difficult decision to lay off staff and look at cutting all expenses to the proverbial bone.

As the federal and provincial governments began developing programs of grants, loans, and subsidies, we have had to become fluent in new acronyms: CERB, CERS, CEBA, and, our current favourite, CEWS.

Depending on your political leanings, you may take issue with some, many, or all of these programs. For us, one thing is clear; without these programs, it is unlikely that Shekinah would still be open.

The last decade has been financially challenging, and Shekinah has posted deficits for many – perhaps most – of those years. This meant that we were not financially prepared for a year of little to no income. In addition, we came into COVID right after winter, our slowest income generation time.

In the uncertainty, we knew that we still needed to plan things like summer camp and prepare for school groups in the fall. We were fortunate enough to be able to hire Craig, our program director, back.

When it became apparent that these programs would not run, Craig took charge of our summer workers, who we were able to hire through the Canada Summer Jobs program.

In spite of not having a maintenance manager on staff, Shekinah was able to continue to do maintenance. Which is important, because without upkeep, nature takes over quickly and buildings and infrastructure fall into disrepair.

People often assume that, because we aren’t hosting groups at Shekinah, that our expenses must have dropped to next-to-nothing.

Unfortunately, our fixed expenses are just that: fixed. Our mortgage, insurance, and property taxes still cost us $55,000 / year, or about $4500 / month. While our utilities costs are down by about 30% from 2019, they still cost us over $2000 / month.

We still need people to maintain, run, and plan for the future.

Overall, our costs to run Shekinah in 2019 were right around $50,000 / month. In 2020, we have been able, because of staffing subsidies, having fewer staff on payroll, buying very few groceries, and having fewer people use gas and electricity onsite, to get that number down to $21,000 / month.

But it’s still $21,000 / month.

We are in the fortunate position of not only being able to ask for donations, but also in having generous supporters like you. Because of subsidies and your generous support, we are only running a small deficit.

And, if 2021 were going to be a “normal” year, we’d probably be OK.

But it likely won’t be. If we can start serving people in summer, we should survive with likely a manageable deficit. If that gets pushed back to fall or longer, we will be in serious trouble.

Our projections are based on having at least 6 months of no-to-little income, and we are asking for your help to bridge that gap.

With expenses of about $20,000 / month, we are asking for a total of $120,000 in the next 6 months. This is a big ask, and we don’t do it lightly; however, if we are to continue as a place of refuge and physical, mental, and spiritual renewal, these are our needs.

If you feel called to invest in the story and mission of Shekinah, please visit our donations page on this website. We welcome your help, and you can support us by cheque, e-transfer, or credit card. In addition to a one-time gift, you can also sign up for monthly donations.

We also invite you to our annual A Very Shekinah Christmas: 12 Days of Christmas 2020 fundraiser edition. Join your Shekinah staff for 12 days of musical guests, stories, board greetings, and the usual antics that happen when the inmates run the institution.

Our goal for this fundraiser in $50,000, and it starts December 13, under our Events page.

Thank you for all of your prayers, supportive emails and phone calls, and your financial investments. Here at Shekinah, we appreciate all of your support, and we continue to do the work of Shekinah in as fiscally responsible and spiritually uplifting way.

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