VERO BEACH ― Environmental Learning Center Executive Director Barbara Schlitt Ford has issued a challenge to ELC supporters: raise $100,000 by Memorial Day, and she will dye her hair bright blue.
On the ELC website, the organization expressed alarm at the loss of admission and programming fees for two months or more.
“Like many businesses, for profit and not for profit, we’re wondering how we’re going to make ends meet financially with no revenue coming in the door,” Ms. Schlitt Ford said.
As we went to press, the ELC has raised $60,575 of the $100,000 goal. The organization based on a 64 acre lagoon island campus has a $1.2 million annual budget, an average of about $100,000 per month, or $3,300 per day.
The blue hair challenge was originally to end April 30. Since the goal was not quite reached, Ms. Schlitt Ford extended it through May, in part because she actually wants the blue hair.
“I issued a challenge to raise $100,000 in the month of April and in exchange I would dye my hair bright blue,” Ms. Schlitt Ford said. “We are more than halfway to our goal. Such tremendous generosity deserves a compromise, so I have decided to extend the challenge through May and if we reach our $100,000 goal by Memorial Day I will still dye my hair bright blue. I’m really looking forward to having blue hair actually, so please do what you are able to bring this outward show of my appreciation to fruition.”
Despite the severe financial difficulties, Ms. Schlitt Ford is trying to see the positive.
“There are many things that are good that are coming out of this, unexpected things. One of those is our increased sense of connectivity and caring with one another, and with the natural world. I’m grateful for that.”
“We have all recently learned a bit more through this unusual time about what we are willing to give up to protect human life and I think it’s safe to say that we hold human life in very high regard. In fact, we’ve all had an opportunity to take a bit of a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to clarify and focus on what we hold most dear, the health and happiness of our loved ones and community members.”
“As human beings we have responded to this challenge with love and grace. Our ecosystems have responded with the resilience we suspected. It is time to re-commit to behaviors that reflect our values. The health of our ecosystems has improved in the past few months. We have all seen stories about this in the media. The concrete and measurable improvements are not yet determined but it renews our hope for the health of our precious life-giving natural world.”