Gaia House lacks funding, possibly faces closure

The Gaia House Interfaith Center has about two months to pull a profit before its doors close.

With an average $1,563 monthly loss and a current bank balance of about $4,000, the Gaia House is at risk of shutting down in the near future.

According to its website, the Gaia House is a meeting place for people of many faith traditions and cultures.

The center was established in 1943 and now serves as a place for many different organizations to meet, including its own self-titled Registered Student Organization.

The Gaia House suffered an $8,127.15 loss in the 2011 fiscal year. In addition, the United Church of Christ’s Illinois South Conference will not be providing its annual $10,000 donation the center usually receives in monthly increments, which has contributed to the average monthly loss.

Tabitha Ayres, the Gaia House’s interim chair facilitator, said the Gaia House has about two or three months’ worth of money left.

“By month three, you are going to know if the Gaia House is going to swim,” she said.

Ayres has temporarily joined the Gaia House’s Board of Directors in an attempt to straighten out the financial situation.

At last month’s board meeting, the Gaia House’s president and treasurer, Erika Peterson, resigned and left the organization leaderless.

The board held its monthly meeting Wednesday, where it discussed the center’s financial problem and brainstormed fundraising ideas.

Ayres said she thinks the main problem source is a lack of cohesion between staff members, board members and the community.

The Gaia House received funding from the university in previous years, but those funds have dried up, Ayres said.

Some fundraising ideas that resulted from the meeting included charging for yoga classes, center memberships and building rentals.

Treesong, a Gaia House staff member and longtime friend, said he has faith the center will survive.

“I think if we can get enough publicity, and people can see what we do here and how we benefit the community, that will be enough initiative to help out,” he said.

Treesong said he has seen a positive energy with the community and intends on getting everyone as involved as possible.

Dominic Giafagleone, a sophomore from Chicago studying university studies and Gaia House RSO treasurer, said he will do anything to prevent the interfaith center from closing down.

“My friends and I used to joke about chaining ourselves to the house, but now it may become a reality,” he said.

Giafagleone said RSO members will be doing everything in their power to raise funds for the Gaia House, including bake sales, chalking around campus and simply promoting its services.

Ayres said the Gaia House’s main source of income is private donations. She said they will have to rely on the community to keep them afloat in the short term.

“We need to make people realize that this could be the end of the Gaia House. It is easy to dismiss and say ‘Oh, we’ll be okay,’ but if we don’t take action there will be no more Gaia House,” she said. “I hope that everyone remembers what they love about the Gaia House and hopefully pull together to keep it afloat.”

 

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Ashley Zborek

About Ashley Zborek

Hello, My name is Ashley and I am the Daily Egyptian's Online Editor. I started off at the DE as a campus reporter in fall 2011.

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