Our History

Walter BeebeHear Walter Beebe, a founder of the New York  Open Center,  talk about  its mission in the world  community and the lives of its students.

In the beginning(1984), the vision was to create something new: a single forum for ideas and experiences at the forefront of a shift in society's awareness that many aspects of life are not separate but profoundly connected. At first, this holistic consciousness looked primarily to the search for inner, spiritual values. For new generations of seekers, this inquiry remains the baseline and starting point that we return to again and again.

Along the way...we soon began looking outward to the relationship between our values and how we act in the world. Programs and teachers focused on understanding health and mind-body healing, depth psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions, compassionate dying, socially responsible investing, humanity's impact on the earth and renewable energy, untapped sources for creativity in the arts and what we can learn from world cultures.

Today...the Open Center is all of the above. Presenting over 500 programs of exceptional depth and integrity to audiences totaling more than 10,000 annually, we currently concentrate in five major areas: Contemplative and Spiritual Traditions; Health and Wellness; Psychology; Society and Ecology; and Creativity and the Arts. Registration in 2006 was up over 20%. We raise about 25% of the annual budget through contributions.

And we give it away... The Open Center also gives away much of our learning to communities and individuals with limited access to holistic teachings. Since 1999, the Open Center Community InReach Project has brought holistic health care and wellness practices to nearly 5,000 clients of social services organizations. Most of these individuals are people of color living in distressed communities who have been marginalized, disempowered and without access to services on many levels. Working primarily with preventive techniques that emphasize self healing such as proper nutrition, breathing techniques, simple Chi Kung, yoga and meditation, InReach Project staff visit sites serving people suffering from serious physical illness, as well as those battling alcoholism and drug addiction, domestic violence, mental illness and the wretched isolation often experienced by the elderly. The InReach Project has consistently offered a means of self-empowerment through practical techniques for coping with stress, building health and vitality, and developing inner resources to confront adversity and challenges in one's life.

InReach now offers 500 holistic classes annually in 12 community centers and social service agencies, including Housing Works (HIV/AIDS), Gilda's Club (Cancer), Sanctuary for Families (Domestic Violence), Long Island College Hospital (Cancer Treatment, Mental Health Day Treatment), Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (homeless) and Dorot (services to the elderly). Services are provided free-of-charge or by donation, and sites are asked to make a contribution if possible, which we apply to administrative/overhead costs. Contributions are most welcome.

Scholarships...Finally, we give away a serious level of scholarships. Since January 1, 2005, reduced program fees for those in need (separate from the Community InReach Project) have totaled over $69,000. Your donations make these give-aways possible.

The above is only the briefest summary of what we are offering daily for so many who are searching for deeper meaning in their lives, and worthwhile participation in the world.

Open Center in the News
Read an interview with Walter Beebe, Open Center president, in Crain's New York Business (PDF).

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