The push to build a replacement for the Betsuin’s aging Education Building has received a big boost: a $2 million matching pledge supported by the Takeo and Miyoko Yuki family.
All donations through the end of the year to the Dharma Center project will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to a total of $2 million, meaning potentially $4 million could be contributed to the project.
The pledge comes as the Betsuin on Oct. 1 officially launched the “Generations. Our Legacy” fundraising campaign, which will ensure the future of Lotus Preschool and other organizations that support the Betsuin, the Sangha and Community.
Construction on the nearly 12,000-square-foot project – estimated to cost about $15 million – could begin late next year and be finished in 2024.
“We are very excited by our plans for the new Dharma Center,” said Steve Onishi, the Betsuin president. “This will replace our aging Education Building with a new, state of the art facility that will greatly enhance the beauty, and functionality of our campus.”
“Much as the Issei and Nisei had to sacrifice to build our current facilities, we hope that you will join us to help bring our facilities into the 21st century. While our goal is to raise $15 million, we have already received commitments for nearly half of that amount from some very generous Sangha members.
“To help us in those efforts, an extremely generous Sangha member has offered to match all donations, up to a maximum of $2 million to help us reach our goals! So, I hope that everyone can help us to reach that goal.”
Even before the matching pledge, nearly $6 million has been raised for the project. The matching effort could increase that total to two-thirds of the overall projected cost.
Planning is under way for multiple fundraisers in 2023 sponsored by the Betsuin, individual temple organizations and our local community, in addition to asking each member of the Sangha to consider giving to the project.
The six-decade old Education Building has served the Betsuin well, but it is antiquated, lacks modern security and high tech features, is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and does not meet current seismic safety codes. Plans for its replacement have been in the works for the past 15 years. The Dharma Center is the second of a two-phase capital building project the Betsuin began with the renovation and seismic-safety improvements to the Annex Building completed in 2016.
The two-story Dharma Center will be nearly twice as large as the Education Building it will replace, have a space tailored to fit the needs of Lotus Preschool and facilities for other organizations and groups, including larger classrooms, a conference room, multi-purpose room with kitchen and a parking lot with at least 60 spaces.
The center will also feature five classrooms, a library with room for research and educational uses; media/conference room for meetings of up to 52 people, community events, film showings and private parties; a large multi-purpose room that can accommodate 120 seated at tables, 257 on chairs and 360 standing; and a full kitchen.
The $15 million cost estimate will make the Dharma Center one of the largest construction projects in the history of Shin Buddhism in the United States.
“It’s a lot of money,” said temple member Adam Sweeney, who in his tech career was involved in office building projects and has generously volunteered his time and expertise to make the Dharma Center a reality.
“We have people here at church that have wanted this to happen for many years, and they encouraged us to stretch a bit on the budget to make sure that we build something we’ll be proud of.”
The Betsuin is fortunate to have members who can make six-figure and even seven-figure donations, according to Sweeney.
“We also have younger church members like me who have worked in and benefited from the tech industry over the last 20 years,” Sweeney said. “Many of us have done well with the growth of our companies and the stock market. I’m hoping that we can all step up to share some of the results of all that to pay for another big chunk of our $15 million target.”
“Finally, we’ll do this the way we always have. Fundraising dinners, events, bake sales, and every other way that our creative and hard working Sangha members can come up with. I expect that this will take time, effort, and money from all of us, but the results are going to be beautiful and long lasting.”
Please consider the new Dharma Center building project in your giving decisions and remember this incredible opportunity to have your 2022 donation matched!
There are a few options for donating during this matching campaign. You may donate online by credit card at sjbetsuin.org/dharmacenter, by check via mail or drop-off to the church office OR offline by credit card by visiting the church office. We cannot take credit card donations over the phone.
If smaller installments are more comfortable for you, you may also pledge a specified amount but spread the payments over 6 months through the end of March 2023. The benefit here is your full pledge will be matched even if some payments are made in 2023. Please refer to the pledge flyer/form included in this newsletter for more details.
If you have questions about the project, fundraising or any other aspect of the Dharma Center, you can contact Rinban Sakamoto at firstname.lastname@example.org, Betsuin President Steve Onishi at email@example.com or the temple office, 408-293-9292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.