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A Goodbye From Ted Wisniewski

Beloved Mountain family,

As I sit writing, I feel a tremendous amount of memories and emotions. So let me apologize if I ramble on or leave something or somebody out. I want to start by saying what an honor and privilege it has been to be a part of this beautiful community. Your love, kindness and generosity have made this a brilliant and successful journey. I had no idea where this journey would lead back in 2013. I just knew that there was a mutual need between The Mountain and me.

I also owe you a debt of gratitude for the outpouring of support on a personal level for me and my family throughout our years. I will be forever thankful! You never know where or how the love of strangers, family and friends finds you, some expected and some unexpected, all very appreciated. As many of you know, in our years here my family has suffered the loss of my two parents, the cancer battle and passing of Wendy’s sister and her dad suffering a life changing stroke. With each of these situations and the dozens of other challenges life offers, you have provided us with an encouraging comment, a card, a listening ear or a hug. These gestures, no matter how small, have lifted our hearts and provided us hope and strength. It is in those moments, and the millions of other acts of kindness, where the true power of The Mountain has left its indelible mark.

As I reflect on my time with you, it is absolutely amazing what we have accomplished together. There are many people to thank for our success these past several years, but I just don’t have room to name them all. Your selfless donation of time, treasure and talent has The Mountain in uncharted territory. When we started our journey, we were asking ourselves what bills can we pay? Today we have 90k in an emergency fund, 200k in CD’s as a small investment and much more in restricted and unrestricted savings. We’ve invested well over $600k in our physical plant, targeting our roads, wells, roofs, doors, windows and buildings. Our net assets in 2013 were just over $500K; today our net assets are north of 1.5 million. Mountain Camp’s attendance grew from 200 campers to 300 campers in less than 6 years. Our Mountain produced programs doubled from 5 offerings in 2013 to 11 offerings in 2019. The growth in all our programs has increased our bed nights by an average of two thousand nights a year. Revenue growth from our Many Hands Peace Farm has gone from $0 to 13,000 since 2013, with plenty of room to grow. With each baby step our confidence grew, and we all started to see a future for this wonderful place. As we became stronger, our community grew, and funds became available to grow our endowment fund from 30k to over 350k in 2019.

Thanks to our participation in Chamber of Commerce events, library events and farmers markets, to Mountain staff chairing the town’s Eclipse committee and to a side helping of hosting open houses, garden clubs, school groups and community meetings, our community presence and image has evolved from people being scared of the hippie cult on the mountain to being a vibrant and valued member of the Highlands community. Again, I am simply in awe of all that WE accomplished.

I have come to believe that The Mountain gives people what they need even when they may not be looking. I have seen it dozens of times with guests and felt it just as many times with you. I also believe that The Mountain is pulling its next leader here- it found Lee when it needed his skills, and it found me when it needed mine. The Mountain knows what it needs, and be assured the Mountain energy is calling that person as I write.

I made a promise to the board and myself when I arrived, to be honest and transparent. I told them “you may not like what I say or how I say it, but it will be truthful.” I also said that The Mountain was bigger than any of us, it was here 35 years before me and will be here long after I am gone. My goal was for people to associate The Mountain with their own experiences, find their awakening, experience their own epiphany or inspiration. As I pack to leave, I know I can hold my shoulders back and head high, for I have accomplished that and so much more. I grew my values, kept my promises and kept my integrity. For me it’s always been about The Mountain, the kids and the guests first. The Mountain is in me, but I am not The Mountain. WE are!

May blessings fall upon you like rain

With Love and Grace

I bid you good bye

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