Asking for the financial support of others is part of bearing witness to life on the streets. This process begins about a month before the start of the retreat with asking people in your network of family, friends, community members, and acquaintances to contribute money to your retreat. You can do this by asking them in person, writing a letter, or launching a funding campaign. However you choose to do this, remember that the point is to make a practice of asking others to support you. A personal request of another person allows you to articulate the purpose of a street plunge and it invites others into the process with you. This is one way in which you expand the circle of belonging. It starts close to home. We ask that you attempt to raise $500 from your network. Please do not use your own money to do this.
In bearing witness to life on the streets we will very likely be supported by social service agencies and public nonprofit organizations. About a month after the retreat ends we will give two-thirds of what we collectively raise to organizations that supported our lives. We will decide together how to give this money away.The remaining one-third of what is raised will support the social action work of Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community, which means paying for the costs of leading the retreat and general support for food truck StreetGreens, our free hospice housing project, and other social action projects of the sangha.
Please ask at least five people to support you. More would be great. In our Zen Buddhist practice, we call this process, “assembling a mala.” A mala is a string of prayer beads. Make one for yourself where each bead represents a person who has given to your mala, and bring it with you on the street retreat. Sincerely promise your donors that they will be traveling with you on the retreat and you will personally tell them about your experience when you return home. It is a lovely gesture to label the beads with your donors’ names and wear them during your time on the streets.
Your donors could give you cash or checks made out to you. Then, once you have raised the funds (preferably prior to the start of the retreat), please make out one check payable to Bread Loaf Mountain Monastery (attn. Street Retreat – name city), PO Box 818, Middlebury VT 05753. Donors can also give through our website via PayPal. They should leave a note on the donation page indicating that this donation is supporting your street retreat.
To give others the opportunity to give is a true gift. Don’t doubt it. When we are truly and selflessly motivated, people will support us. Trust in this always.