By Jon Cronin
The Sherborn Peace Abbey, a center for pacifism and the conjoining of faiths and philosophy, enjoyed the friendship of their supporters and the comedic talents of Jimmy Tingle at their first fundraising event this past Sunday, June 26.
“We had such a good time. We made a lot of money, which was great, totally great,” said Dot Walsh, program coordinator for the Abbey.
Tingle, who performed for free and donated all of his CD sales, was bestowed the Abbey’s most honored prize “The Courage of Conscience Award” in part for his use of satirical humor to promote tolerance. In its 30 years of service, Abbey’s founder Lewis Randa, has personally presented awards to Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Maya Angelou, John Lennon (posthumously), Howard Zinn and Muhammed Ali.
Stefan Schindler, an Abbey supporter, said he heard Tingle on the radio 25 years ago and fell on the floor laughing. He recorded the performance, gave a copy to Randa and said, “This is our kinda guy.”
Walsh also noted that Sherborn resident Karen Masterson, owner of Nourish, a restaurant in Lexington, donated all the food for the party.
In all, the Abbey raised approximately $7,500 from the fundraiser.
However, Walsh added, the Abbey still owes $280,000 to the bank. She said that the debt is currently in forbearance, but as far as paying it off, she said, the “sooner the better.” Walsh says one the ways they may try to pay off the debt is to find an investor to buy the front building. Having already raised enough money to pay off the mortgage of the Life Experience School in Millis, which owns the Peace Abbey, the people at the Abbey remain hopeful that they will be able to stave off foreclosure on the remaining portion of their debt.
“We are looking to build a greater relationship with the Dover-Sherborn community. I don’t think people really know what we do,” she said. In fact, Walsh said that there were not a lot of Dover or Sherborn residents who attended the fundraiser.
According to their web site, “The Peace Abbey is dedicated to creating innovative models for society that empower individuals on the paths of nonviolence, peacemaking, and cruelty-free living. We offer a variety of programs and resources that teach, inspire and encourage one to speak out and act on issues of peace and social justice. Faith in action is the cornerstone of our fellowship and activist pacifism is our creed.”
Former students and attendees can attest to the mark the Abbey has made in their lives.
Esther Greenspan, a former student of the Abbey’s special education program and Life Experience School has cognitive and physical disabilities. The program helped her to become a public speaker for the Understanding Our Differences program in Newton.
Her mother, Miriam Greenspan, said Randa put a microphone in front of Esther at a function and it was then they discovered her public speaking skills. “(The Abbey) is a remarkable place.”
Pamela Powers, a Natick resident and Abbey supporter, deeply admires Randa and what he has done at the Abbey. Powers, who used to teach dance at the Abbey’s special education school, is familiar with all the stories, beliefs, involvements, and spiritual benefits of the place. She said she enjoys going there to become centered.
Jayne Hamel, who now resides in California, made a special trip during her stay on the East Coast to visit the Abbey. Her daughter, Ali, attended Randa’s special education school in the 90s.
Now 29, Hamel says her daughter’s education at the Abbey helped her flourish as a professional artist, “This was a beautiful program for her.”