Letter: Booting 800 locals is in spirit of Bain, not Kripalu

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Acting in spirit of Bain, not spirit of Kripalu

To the editor:

The day after 9/11, I first went to Kripalu. I figured the world was ending, might as well try yoga, and I'd heard there was an organization for locals called The Berkshire Kripalu Community. I joined and had the joy and benefit of going there just about every Sunday for years to ready myself for my challenging job as an area high school teacher. I was renewed and reborn with wisdom and health.

The last five years, I volunteered at the front desk, welcoming people and giving them an orientation. At one point, we were given badges that said "volunteer ambassador." The few times a month I went there for my benefit of day classes or a reduced cost meal, I felt it was my honor and duty to continue helping guests.

Last Thanksgiving, we were told that our benefits would be limited to the day we volunteered. Kripalu was pretending it didn't have an agreement with us which was supposed to be renegotiated for changes.

I hung on for a few months, assured by the BKC board that we would try to renegotiate this. They wouldn't negotiate. I walked out in January but still enjoyed going to our local classes, dance at noon, and buying meals. It didn't feel the same, but often good things come to end, sadly.

Kripalu has every right to kick the BKC out and disregard our many years of volunteer service and support. And I love the fact that all Berkshire residents will get a healthy discount for day passes on Wednesday. I hope they aren't just offering this as a temporary PR scheme to offset the bad vibes they have incurred by kicking out over 800 locals who have donated, volunteered and supported them all these years.

When David Lipsius became CEO, he addressed the BKC about his plans for Kripalu. He said that he was thrilled that he had been advised by what he called "Bain Capital's advisors" about how to improve Kripalu. I found this more than cringe-worthy at the time — was the ruthless gutting of American jobs attitude of this corporation, which even raided then looted a local toy corporation, consistent with the spirit of Kripalu, a meditating guru who believed in giving and service? I asked him this in a letter and never got a reply. Well, in a way, I did.

Those at the bottom of the pay scale at Kripalu were made part-time so that we taxpayers could help with their insurance and other vital needs. Then the long-term live-in volunteer program was ended, followed by his savaging of our local organization.

The fall Kripalu catalog has an article encouraging donations entitled "Kripalu — Making an Impact: The true measure of our mission is the impact we have on people's lives, at our retreat center and in the world." Well, you certainly have had an impact on over 800 locals, a negative and very unKripalu-like one, indeed.

Cheryl Diane Nelsen, Dalton


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