An update on Rolling Ridge finances because of the coronavirus pandemic as of May 18, 2020:
To slow the spread of COVID-19, on March 16th, Governor Charlie Baker shut down all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts, and put restrictions on food service facilities. Rolling Ridge immediately shut down all onsite operations, cancelled groups and programs, and began to launch online ministry to spiritually serve our community during these uncertain times. While head staff continued on payroll to continue the work of the Ridge, all support staff were asked to take time off without pay. Unfortunately, religious non-profits like Rolling Ridge did not qualify for unemployment when the pandemic began. When those restrictions were lifted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, our support staff were encouraged to apply for unemployment along with two of our head staff. Rolling Ridge is now operating with a skeletal staff.
At the end of April, Rolling Ridge received a federal loan from the second round of the Payroll Protection Plan in the CARES Act. This money will help underwrite eight weeks of salary as the staff prepares for reopening with a "facelift" to three of our bathrooms.
With Rolling Ridge slated for a Phase 3 reopening in Governor Baker's timeline, we are now working on safety protocols. However, we know that it will take extended time for us to return to full operations as guest groups have now cancelled events into August and September. This means that even though the Ridge may be able to reopen in the coming weeks, an empty reservations calendar means there is still no onsite business. We believe recovery will take a minimum of 18 months. It will take time for bookings to be restored to pre-COVID-19 levels as the fears of exposure, resurgence, and safety are very real.
By the middle of May, the Ridge has lost over $300,000 in income for 2020, representing nearly one half of our projected total income for the year. This comes from cancelled programs and groups from late-March through August. With cancellations for fall events now beginning, we believe the losses for 2020 will grow and will eventually deplete the reserve funds the Ridge was able to build up over the past few years. We are working with our Mother organization, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, to discern the type of financial support we may be able to receive once the reserves are depleted. We are thankful that Rolling Ridge is part of a connectional system, and trust that God will be working to ensure that our ministry continues post COVID-19.
During this time, we are also thankful for the financial gifts from our donors and friends, who support us and believe in the work we are doing. Your gifts big and small have meant so much during these uncertain times. We are especially thankful to many of our retreat leaders who are donating their time by offering free online events so that all free-will offerings received upon registration can be used by the Ridge to offset our staff salaries and operating expenses. We appreciate so many people standing with us during this time.