2019 Annual Report

Dear Friends,

In uncertain times, it’s very comforting to be reminded of the connections and support we have and to celebrate them. 

People might be aware of Outreach collections, but how many know a story of high schoolers coming to visit the center or Elon students in the midst of “finding themselves”  being introduced to Geshe Sangpo and the impermanence of a sand mandala?

When you look at the number of visiting teachers and Sunday teachings and DB classes and Intro classes and meditations and pujas, and Family Camp etc., it’s amazing!!! When you consider even the pen pal program where inmates can reach out to a practicing Buddhist to explore an unfamiliar path, how wonderful! Not to mention the fact that some very dedicated volunteers go through all the trouble of background checks and long drives to be there, in-person to share the idea that we can develop our minds.

How many have expressed delight in the opportunity to have Sunday Tea with friends (or little “s” sangha) and Sangha? How many were at the Center when we celebrated Geshe Gelek’s 20th anniversary? How many cried during Julie’s speech? How many think every day about Geshe Gelek’s wisdom and patience?

While there are many things that we may be worried about these days, this pandemic does give us an opportunity to cherish the times from the past, be present in-the-moment, and continue our vision for the future. Though we can’t gather in person right now, we hope this 2019 Annual Report helps keep us connected in our hearts.

Spiritual Programs in 2019

In 2019, Spiritual Programs continued working to bring the most meaningful teachings and practices possible to our Kadampa Community. 

We started the year with a new cycle of Discovering Buddhism, one of our most popular courses. Developed by our mother organization, FPMT, DB explores 13 essential concepts in Buddhism, and students in the course develop great Dharma friendships as well as a great foundation in the teachings. 

We also offered our introductory courses Buddhism in a Nutshell and Meditation 101 several times over the year, with both daytime and evening options.

Geshe Gelek and Geshe Sangpo both offered teachings on Sunday mornings, and either lamrim teachings or practice sessions on weeknights.

We also expanded our practice opportunities with special practice days that included the chance to participate actively in making offerings and circumambulating holy objects. 

Geshe Gelek led several two-day Tara mini-retreats at the Center with instructions on how to do retreat ourselves at home.  

For Lama Tsongkhapa Day, a holy day that honors the great saint and scholar who wrote the Lamrim, we had a Lama Tsongkhapa Festival that included reciting many of his shorter lamrim texts.

For both the Tara and Lama Tsongkhapa practices, we created a large, beautiful altar in the center of the gompa. Then we invited the deities into the room to places of honor on the altar, which was covered in a rich array of offerings. 

Throughout the year, Geshe Sangpo led us in merit-making practices – making prostrations and offering mandalas. He also gave teachings on how to do these practices, so that students who needed guidance could learn how to do them.


Volunteer with Spiritual Programs!

We’re online with all of our teachings and classes. We will have many volunteer opportunities in the future when we’re back in the gompa. Let us know if you’d like to get involved by connecting with Donna Seese, Kadampa Center’s Spiritual Program Coordinator (click the email icon).

2019 Visiting Teachers!

Venerable Amy Miller

Venerable Robina Courtin

Venerable George Churinoff

Family Program in 2019

Kadampa Kids:

  • Interviewed Geshe Sangpo and were inspired to animate his journey into and through life as a monk.
  • Learned about joyful effort at the 7th Kadampa Family Dharma Camp by doing art, games, and theater together for three days.
  • Camped for a weekend at Falls Lake and swam together at a Volunteer Thank You Pool Party
  • Revamped the Education Building classrooms and the Refuge Room with new flooring and furniture and equipment to facilitate multi-use beyond the Family Program.
  • Began a Teen Class based on the Discovering Buddhism led by highly qualified volunteers who brought their own dharma practice to life for them by sharing their passions.
  • Held an Elementary and Middle School age class through the Fall and Winter – applying the 16 Guidelines to their life through story, games, and the personal practice of their loving and dedicated volunteer teachers.

Many Thanks to all of our Family Program volunteers, especially:

Geshe Gelek, Geshe Sangpo, Venerable Khando, Adriana, Vivian, Dorothy, Erin, Echo, Sue, Naga, Julie, Shannon, Kelly, Annelise, Shannon, Julie, Vivianne, Lauri, Link, Andre, Vincent, Tim, Yoana, Kolleen, Gary, Diane, Glen, Cyndi, Celina, and many more whom we may not have mentioned.

Volunteer with the Family Program!

Whether you have kids in the program or not…there are lots of ways to get involved and engaged with our Family Program. Connect with Christy Batts, Family Program Coordinator (click email icon:)

Prison Project 

In 2019, we held:

  • Meditation classes at Caledonia (Chris Baranski, George Coen), Franklin (Amanda Henry and Barb Baranski), and Nash (Steven Killion and Andre Smith)
  • A youth meditation class at Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro (Barb Baranski, Amanda, Steven and David Machles).
  • Buddhist services at Nash (Andre Smith and Herb Cunningham).

Our penpal program is still happening! We have approximately 15 incarcerated individuals participating, and around 10 Prison Project volunteers. While mail restrictions, delays, and new rules at some facilities can make sending and receiving mail a challenge at times, the benefits to all involved in this program are immeasurable.

Barb and Amanda are active Facilitators for the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) – they’ve facilitated workshops at Alexander Correctional for over 75 men in 2019. While not an official KDC activity, it is related. Barb is also facilitating AVP at Women’s Prison in Raleigh


Much Appreciation for Our Prison Project Volunteers: Chris Baranski, George Coen, Amanda Henry, Steven Killion, Andre Smith, David Machles, Herb Cunningham, and Barb Baranski.

Interested in the Prison Project?

Click on the email icon to connect with Barb Baranski, Prison Project Coordinator if you’d like more information or want to find out how you can get involved with our Pen Pal Project, Prison classes, AVP Program, and more!


2019 was a very active year for Outreach in all areas! 

Compassion in Action: The intent is to provide our Kadampa Community opportunities to physically engage in service to others, creating synergy by participating in projects that serve the greater community.

  • 10,000 Meals! 90% 90%
  • 504 Pounds of Food 80% 80%
  • Bags and Bags of Garbage 85% 85%
  • Almost 500 Visitors Toured Kadampa Center 99% 99%

FPMT Mandala Magazine features Kadampa Center Outreach Compassion In Action


For the Adopt-a-Stream project (March and November) – cleaning up the shores of Lake Johnson resulted in quite a collection of trash!

Clergy Build Day

Clergy Build Day with Geshe Sangpo and a dozen other Faith Leaders put up walls and windows for a new home

Rise Against Hunger

For the Rise Against Hunger Food Packaging event (March), we joined together with people of other faiths to package over 10,000 meals for people in crisis all over the world!

Baffle Project for Kids

Baffle Project for Kids – a cooperative with Family Program – kids from many faith communities painted baffles to insulate the homes with messages of love and good wishes

Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

Our Food Drive for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC (June/July) collected a total of 504 pounds of food for the hungry, which is 402 meals!

Interfaith Build

Interfaith Build – Nine Kadampa Center members plus more than 20 other faith members worked on painting and other finishing work for three Habitat homes.

Get Involved!

Our Outreach Coordinator, Elise Strevel, has current opportunities to get involved with our Kadampa Center Outreach Compassion in Action activities (click on the icon) to find out more about Love Notes and Sewing Face Masks.

For our Eyeglasses Collection (July/Aug), we collected 84 pairs of prescription eyeglasses that were measured and distributed to those in need for free at the Sathya Sai Free Healthcare Day.

The Green Tara Sand Mandala event at Elon University with Geshe Sangpo (October) brought blessings and knowledge to hundreds of students and community members over the course of 3 days.

Community Education responds to student and community group requests to learn more about Buddhism and the Kadampa Center with a presentation and a tour. Almost 500 total individuals attended a presentation and/or a tour of Kadampa Center in 2019. These included:

  • Triangle interfaith group
  • St. Andrews Presbyterian interfaith group
  • Cary Academy
  • Unity of the Triangle interfaith group
  • Meredith College
  • Leesville Road HS
  • Springmoor Retirement Center
  • Millbrook Road HS

Triangle Interfaith Alliance – our affiliation reflects our commitment to encouragement from His Holiness and our Teachers to embrace people of all faiths and cultures. Learning first-hand that we are all alike in wanting peace and happiness. In addition to Service projects, there were other opportunities for us to pray and learn together.

Triangle Interfaith Alliance Annual Meeting/Dinner (February) –  the theme of “Making a Difference” helped us to learn different ways we can join forces with organizations in our communities for a synergy of help and hope.

Interfaith Prayer Services (April, August and November) brought members of many communities together to pray and learn from one another, and make new friends across various faiths and cultures. We are much more alike than different!

Interfaith Care of Creation of the Triangle (ICCT) affiliation is a joint effort of over 40 faith communities in the Triangle to address the shared basic tenet of “do no harm” to all sentient beings and the environment in which they live.

Ongoing, monthly opportunities for education, and presentations about many aspects of environmental care and action.

Homebound Initiative: an initiative to assist individuals who are disabled long-term to maintain/ develop their practice. In process, by Patti Pandya.

Kadampa Center Financial Update

2019 Financial Snapshot

Total Donations:  $282,000

Total Expenses:    $276,000

  • Beyond our Annual Appeal donations, we raised over $48,000 in the Burn the Mortgage campaign. We now own our own building!
  • Another major milestone celebrated in 2019: Geshe Gelek’s 20th Anniversary!
  • The 2020 Annual Appeal that took place at the end of 2019 went very well with 102 families/individuals making one-time pledges and 75 families/individuals making one-time pledges.

Special gratitude for our Program Coordinators and all of the volunteers that give so generously of their time and talents for the benefit of all. Much Much Love and Appreciation!!!

You are welcome to come to circumambulate the stupa and enjoy our beautiful grounds. Please respect social distancing and wear face coverings if others are around.

Thank you for the beautiful photography included in this report: David Strevel, Julia McCollum, Donna Seese, Sandy Carlson.

2020 Year-to-Date Snapshot

While the current pandemic has prevented the use of our gompa, all of our Spiritual Program teachings and classes are online. We are so fortunate to have the technology available to continue our Discovering Buddhism, Buddhism in a Nutshell, and Meditation Classes, as well teachings from visiting teacher Venerable Robina Courtin, and most of all, to continue to receive teachings from Geshe Gelek all the way from Argentina!

Light of the Path Retreat with FPMT Spiritual Director Lama Zopa Rinpoche has been moved from 2020 to 2021.

Though we no longer employ a full-time Center Manager, there are plans to hire part-time office support and we have revised our budget downward to show $200,000 in planned expenses for 2020.

We are most thankful that our monthly sustainers have been steadfast in supporting the Center, with monthly pledge income slightly above budget so far this year.

While one-time sustainers have paid in only $17,000 out of $85,000 pledged, we are hoping for a surge of donations during the rest of the year. At present in mid-year, we are running a modest cash flow deficit each month which is normal for this time of year. We continue to support our Geshes and pay our bills. Adequate funds are on hand to operate for the next several months.

With a mind of bodhicitta for our teachers, lay teachers, volunteers, and the entire community, we are constantly studying health recommendations and planning for the future when we will safely be able to meet in our buildings.

Until then, be safe – be well –  and be happy!

And again, as we exist solely on the generosity of our Kadampa Community, thank you to all who continue to support our center.

With much love and appreciation,

Robbie Watkins, Center Director
Sandy Carlson, BOD President
David Strevel, BOD Treasurer
Royden Saah, BOD Secretary
Donna Seese, SPC
BOD Directors:

Susan Daniel, Julie Jones, Erin Sloan, Rebecca Zuvich


If you have any questions, need more information, or wish to volunteer with us, please let us know ~ there are many ways to connect with us!

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