Gaia House no longer at risk for closure this semester

After hosting a spring charity event and offering several new services, the Gaia House has pulled together enough funds to survive the semester.

Since the beginning of the year, the Gaia House has faced the possibility of closure because of insufficient money. The facility’s staff and board members have met routinely to brainstorm possible financial situations.

Jeremiah Jahn, of Makanda, and Vince Contreras, of Carbondale, practice T’ai Chi Tuesday during the weekly T’ai Chi gathering at the Gaia House. Ellen Schart, the T’ai Chi group leader, said if practitioners met at the Gaia House once a week, it would take more than two years to learn all 108 moves in the T’ai Chi art. The group has met at the Gaia House since 2001. Nathan Hoefert Daily Egyptian

Tabitha Ayres, the Gaia House’s interim chair facilitator, announced in January that the center had lost $8,127 during fiscal year 2011, leaving the facility with only enough money to survive on a month-to-month basis.

Ayres, who joined the Gaia House Board of Directors in an attempt to straighten out finances, said what has really rejuvenated the Gaia House is all of the new services it offers.

The Gaia House successfully opened up a café in February, which has brought in between $100 and $200 a week.

The house also held a spring fundraiser called “Spring Into Action,” which provided a night of entertainment and dinner. It raised almost $500.

Ayres said the Gaia House will now rely the new programs.

“We are trying to provide services for the community such as different interest classes,” she said.

The center was established in 1943 and serves as a place for many different organizations to meet, including its own self-titled Registered Student Organization. The center is a meeting place for people of many faiths, traditions and cultures, according to its website.

Aur Beck, Gaia House board member, said being in this desperate of a situation has really brought together the Gaia House community.

“The best part of this bad problem is that it brought everyone together. We have so many more volunteers and people reaching out from the Carbondale community,” he said.

Beck said while he is grateful the Gaia House is doing better, he still must be realistic.

“Just because we are able to stay open for a few more months does not mean we are completely out of the woods,” he said. “A whole quarter of our annual operating budget was removed from the overall budget, so we have to figure out a way to recover those funds annually.”

An annual donation that totals a quarter of the house’s budget was unexpectedly not made this year.

E. Wilson, Gaia House board member, said the center now has a little bit of breathing room, which is a relief — if only a temporary one.

“We want the community to notice the services we now provide. That is our present goal,” she said.

The Gaia House is planning another fundraiser for May and will soon offer a new membership program.

Aryes said she would describe the center’s current financial situation as temporarily stable but optimistic.

“We have a good understanding now of what needs to be done and we have really tightened our budget, so hopefully this will lead us to better financial success,”she said.

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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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