First of all, thank you for the compassionate support you've offered during what is a difficult and uncertain time for all of us. Your understanding helps me stay focused on our shared goal: making sure Sarah's Science is there for you and your children both now and in the future.
I am reaching out to update you on the current status of my business. Like so many small business owners, I operate on a slim margin and make considerable investments in staff, training, and supplies in the months leading up to the first day of summer camp.
I was always aware that there was a legitimate threat of a future pandemic because I have followed scientific thinking for many years on this subject, but nothing could have prepared me -- or any of us -- for the suddenness and force with which this pandemic hit. One day, my staff and I were working hard on getting ready for our spring and summer camps, and the next day, Governor Newsom informed us that we had to temporarily close.
As of March 17, all of my programs were put on hold, my office closed, and my entire staff furloughed. I know that many of you have reached out in various ways with questions, comments, concerns, and to voice your support and I'm sorry that I have not had the resources to get back to everybody individually.
The people who work for me are an experienced and talented bunch and will be ready to go as soon as we are told that it is safe to do so. However, in order for them to be available, they need to believe that their jobs -- and this business -- will be there for them. I have 21 year-round staff. There were 63 people on my last payroll, and I'm doing my best to keep them financially stable. During the summer camp season, I employ far more than 63 people, many of whom grew up attending my programs as campers and counselors-in-training.
Here are some of the immediate and proactive measures I have taken in order to keep Sarah's Science afloat, to support my staff, and to support you, both now and in the future:
- I applied for funding through the SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). I also began working with my CPA to determine whether I'm eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). As those of you who are following the news or are engaged in similar endeavors know, this is a complicated and frustrating process. Most of the early funding was awarded to publicly-traded entities. I'm waiting to hear where I stand on the next round of grants and loans and will keep you posted on our progress.
- I applied for and received Mortgage Forbearance on the two mortgages for my business address and for my own home. This gives me 3 months of breathing room while I devote all available assets to making sure that our programs will be there for you, your children and my staff.
- Due to the pandemic, we could not run Spring Camp and will issue credits to affected customers for all Spring Camp enrollments in the amount paid. This credit can be used until 12/31/2021 (an extension from the original deadline of 09/01/2021) for any of our future programs. I would like to extend this credit for an additional year, however, I must first wait to see the fiscal impact of this crisis on my business.
- We are waiting for further clarification from Governor Newsom and East Bay Regional Park District regarding whether or not we will be cleared to open Summer Camp and what restrictions or limitations may be in place. Your family's health and safety is our primary consideration. I will let you know as soon as we have an idea of what to expect. In the event that camp cannot be held this summer, we will offer a credit for all Summer Camp payments already made, and, as is the case with Spring Camp, I want to keep that credit in place for as long as is feasible. Until I have a better sense of how much financial relief I'll be offered, I won't be able to come up with an exact timeline.
My office and support staff share my enthusiasm for science and nature and believe in the importance of fostering a love of learning through hands-on experiences in the natural world. Each of them cares immensely about Sarah's Science, our campers, and their families. I am deeply committed to doing the right thing for my employees and for all of you.
To take care of you and your children while sheltered in place, I have developed and filmed videos illustrating various scientific concepts through toys, all of which can be built at home. These videos are available on our website and will be updated periodically.
In the meantime, I think of you as part of my team. Never have I been more aware of the value of outdoor activities than in this moment. Inspiring kids to be excited about learning is more important than ever. Thanks for hanging in with me as I try to figure out a way to keep these values alive and operational.
I'll be back in touch when I learn more about where we stand. Keep safe and stay healthy. Wishing all the best to you and your loved ones.
Owner & Founder