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Dear colleagues, 

We are aware that these FAQs are very logistics-oriented and want to flag that the staff gathering won’t feel like these FAQs feel! These logistics are our way of trying to help you feel supported and appreciated as you begin to think through your preparations. We look forward to sharing more about the juicy part of the staff gathering in the coming weeks! 

Our plan is to get the staff gathering registration form out next week, so look for that soon! 

With warmth and excitement, 

The Staff Gathering Task Force (Janna, Beth, Marla, Lee, Perri, Eve and Becky) 

 

We are a merging (but not yet merged) entity. Hence, there are two different versions of the FAQs recognizing that there are currently two separate employee handbooks and that one organization is also our venue host. 

Hazon Version of FAQs

Dates and Times

Folks should arrive at Pearlstone on Sunday and official activities will begin at 6:00 pm Eastern. Official activities will conclude on Thursday at 3pm. For folks needing later check out, including Friday morning departure, special arrangements will be provided.

How fun and useful will the staff gathering be?

Very! And we know definitions of “fun” and “useful” aren’t universal and we are keeping that in mind. Please treat these email addresses as open suggestion boxes and send us anything on your mind: becky@hazon.org, ewachhaus@pearlstone.org. We can’t promise we can follow through on every suggestion, but we will take everything into consideration. Please note the sooner thoughts are shared the greater chance we have of addressing them.

Am I invited/supposed to be there/do I have to go?

Everyone who received the email with the link to these FAQs is invited and strongly requested to attend. If personal circumstances make it so that someone is unable to attend the full length of the gathering, they are encouraged to come for as long as they can.

Nobody will be penalized for not attending. Remote/online participation is not an option, though one or two keynote presentations may be available live online or recorded for later viewing.

If someone needs additional support to be able to attend, they should please discuss their unique circumstances with their supervisor or either of the retreat co-chairs, Eve Wachhaus and Becky O’Brien.

Travel/How do I get there?

All staff not located in Falls Village will make their own travel arrangements. The Staff Gathering Task Force will facilitate communication among those who could potentially travel together. Staff are encouraged to select a travel option that has the lowest environmental impact that is viable for their needs. If driving, try to carpool. If train is a good option, try to do that instead of flying.

For staff in/near Falls Village, we will be taking a poll to see if there is interest in organizing a van for the entire trip. If there is not sufficient interest in that option, individuals will make their own travel arrangements and everything else in this answer applies.

If anyone is feeling urgent about making their travel arrangements, go ahead. But, please note there will be questions about travel on the Staff Gathering registration form and then the Task Force will be in touch with travelers to help support and inform travel choices. So, folks may want to wait until after registration and we’ve had our chance to follow up on it.

Travel costs will be reimbursed 100%, including mileage in personal vehicles (at 50% of the federal reimbursement rate per the Hazon Employee Handbook). Staff will be reimbursed for up to $15/meal while traveling. Reimbursement requests can be submitted as soon as expenses are incurred. If anyone would prefer to have Hazon pay for major expenses up front (airfare, car rental, train ticket) up front, they should contact their supervisor or retreat co-chair Becky O’Brien (Becky@Hazon.org).

Accommodations

Accommodations are, of course, provided and free for out-of-town staff. We will be staying at the lovely and comfortable Pearlstone Center. We have a lodging coordinator to assist all with their lodging selections. All rooms are Handicap Accessible, and several are ADA compliant. Registration for our staff gathering will include a place to indicate your lodging requests. In general, rooms will be double occupancy. A few of our lodging styles are cabins or homes, have multiple bedrooms and can accommodate single occupants in rooms. When you register, please let us know the name of someone you would like to share a room with if you have a preferred roommate in mind. Also please let us know if double occupancy is not an option for you. Pearlstone folks are being encouraged to be commuters so that the majority of rooms are available to our out-of-town colleagues. Lodging styles include Orchard Guests rooms that have 2 queen beds, Garden View rooms that are dormitory-style with single and bunk beds, and a few cabins that have both single and bunk beds. https://www.pearlstonecenter.org/retreats-rentals/our-campus/rooms-accomodations/

What am I going to eat??

Our farm-to-table food is delicious! Pearlstone strives to serve primarily plant-based meals that include our very own certified organic, seasonal vegetables straight from our farm. Registration for our staff gathering will include a place to indicate dietary needs such as vegan or celiac. All our food in the retreat center is Kosher under OU supervision. Water bottles can come into the retreat center (fill up at the beverage station!), but not in the dining room. People are welcome to bring any food items they wish to enjoy in their sleeping room.

We will be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks every day. A few of our meals will be catered by OU supervised restaurants in our area so that Pearlstone staff can spend more time engaged in staff gathering sessions.

PEARLSTONE FOOD ETHIC: It is our honor to nourish our guests in body, mind and soul. Pearlstone food honors the bounty of our seasons, the traditions of our ancestors and the integrity of sustainable agriculture. We strive to provide consciously outsourced, wholesome, delicious food inspired by crops grown on our farm and prepared with love. We always aim to improve, and we are proud to share our food journey with you all.

Eve says, try the Aji Verde on roasted farm vegetables!

COVID protocols

The health and safety of all people remains our top priority. While we outline our protocols here, please note that, consistently, Pearlstone’s protocols exceed government recommendations, including the guidance of CDC, federal, state and local advisories in our efforts to keep all people on our land as safe as possible.

A Johns Hopkins public health advisor reviews and helps Pearlstone in determining our COVID-19 protocols. All who come to Pearlstone complete a daily health screening which is shown to security in order to come on to campus. We will all complete the daily health screening each day.

Masks are worn indoors by all people regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also worn any time any one is unable to be at least 6’ apart. Dining Room is set according to our COVID-19 protocols limiting people at tables and spacing the chairs and apart. Masks must be worn when at the buffet. We will have heaters outdoors for those who prefer to dine outside and not in the Dining Room.

Pearlstone staff have a vaccination mandate. All staff are either fully vaccinated or have completed a medical or religious waiver and provide regular test results.

Additional COVID-19 protocols at Pearlstone include all cooks have completed ServSafe COVID-19 Precautionary training, all high-touch surfaces are disinfected using electrostatic guns, and the Retreat Center HVAC uses MERV 13 filters which are replaced quarterly.

For our Staff Gathering, all attendees will be asked to take a COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. COVID-19 PCR tests are widely available, at no cost, in your community. If you are not able to find a COVID-19 PCR test that is free or covered by insurance, please let Becky and Eve know. We will not be accepting Rapid Tests results. Once that testing is complete, we ask that all attendees limit any activities that could risk exposure, such as spending time unmasked indoors with others. We will ask everyone to present proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test results at check-in. Additionally, we will be sending COVID-19 travel guidance recommendations in a future email.

While these COVID-19 protocols are currently in place a pandemic is an ever-changing situation. Pearlstone will review COVID-19 positivity rates, CDC guidelines, any official mandates, and recommendations from our public health official 30 days before our gathering to determine if we would be required to postpone the gathering and if any additional COVID-19 safety measures will be put in place. As mentioned above, many times our COVID-19 protocols exceed government recommendations. Currently, we plan to hold the event! We are excited to have you here!

This Staff Gathering is for you! If there are specific COVID-19 requests or obstacles to attendance, kindly let us know.

How do I get paid for my time at the staff gathering and for travel?

Attendance at the staff gathering is compensable work time. All programmed time during the staff gathering, including meals, counts towards staff hours. For staff who are paid hourly, all programming should be entered in the time sheet. For non-exempt employees, over-time pay of 1 ½ those employees’ regular rate will apply for hours worked over 40/week. Additionally, all time spent traveling to and from the staff gathering is considered compensable work time. (Note that this is different than Hazon’s current travel policy, which limits compensable travel time to regular office hours. We are waiving this policy for the staff gathering.)

What about my regular job responsibilities during this time?

Our hope is that the staff gathering will be a time that staff can check out from our regular responsibilities and sink into the special time and space of the gathering. And we want this “checking out” to be not stressful. All staff will be asked to put up “out of office” auto replies on their phone and email and will be supported in managing the expectations of others. Everyone is encouraged, to the extent possible, to plan ahead to minimize (and even eliminate) the need to be doing any “regular” work during the staff gathering (like avoiding scheduling any external meetings and programs that week). Staff should try to manage timelines so that they are not “punished” and have to work extra the week after the gathering to catch up. Staff should not be shy in getting support from their supervisors with this. Meanwhile, there will be generous breaks built into the schedule so people will have time, if needed, to handle urgent matters.

What if I have additional child care/elder care needs because of the gathering?

After substantial research, we have come to learn that it is not industry standard to provide subsidies for dependent care for occasional work-related travel. With that said, we understand this staff gathering may put pressure on those who have child care and elder care needs, and plan to provide some support in service to our JEDI principles and values.

For that reason, we are offering up to $400 in dependent care subsidies for staff with demonstrated additional needs resulting from the staff gathering. The $400 may be used to offset dependent care costs. For staff with children under one year old, the subsidy may be used to subsidize travel for a partner to assist with childcare at the retreat. In those scenarios, partners are welcome to join us for meals but should otherwise provide space for our programming during regular work hours.

Those applying for a dependent care subsidy need to fill out a short form and applications will be reviewed and responses shared in 5-7 business days. The initial requests will be sent to Rebecca Eisen, Hazon’s HR Manager. There will be discussion with Shuli Karkowsky and Eve Wachhaus to review requests. These submissions will be confidential and will only be discussed at the time of determining who will get subsidies. If you do get the subsidy, it will be added into your paycheck. If you do not get the subsidy, a reason will be provided to you by Rebecca Eisen. Information will not be shared publicly.

To Apply Click HERE

It is difficult to address every scenario in a blanket policy. If you have needs not addressed here, or have questions about how to apply this policy, please reach out to Rebecca.Eisen@Hazon.org.

All work and no play? Not at all!

The Staff Gathering Task Force is busy thinking of ways that this can be a gathering for work, yes, and also for play, to engage and relax, and, especially, to feel appreciated. We look forward to sharing more about these aspects as the details fall into place.

Pearlstone Version of FAQs

Dates and Times

Folks should arrive at Pearlstone on Sunday and official activities will begin at 6:00 pm. Official activities will conclude on Thursday at 3pm. Please plan on being on campus for the duration of the gathering. All Pearlstone staff are welcome to be commuters. Full time staff who wish to stay on campus should note this request in your registration. Please note that lodging is double occupancy unless otherwise noted. Pearlstone staff are expected to attend all meals and activities regardless of lodging selection.

How fun and useful will the staff gathering be?

Very! And we know definitions of “fun” and “useful” aren’t universal and we are keeping that in mind. Please treat these email addresses as open suggestion boxes and send us anything on your mind: becky@hazon.org, ewachhaus@pearlstone.org. We can’t promise we can follow through on every suggestion, but we will take everything into consideration. Please note the sooner thoughts are shared the greater chance we have of addressing them.

Am I invited/supposed to be there/do I have to go?

All Pearlstone staff are invited and strongly requested to attend. Nobody will be penalized for not attending. Remote/online participation is not an option, though one or two keynote presentations may be available live online or recorded for later viewing.

If you need additional support to be able to attend, please discuss your unique circumstances with your supervisor or either of the retreat co-chairs, Eve Wachhaus and Becky O’Brien.

We recognize that there are some staff implications for hosting this retreat at Pearlstone. Department Directors will be excusing staff when needed for essential tasks related to the campus facilities and staff gathering. As co-chairs we are also committed to finding alternative solutions for some of the retreat operations such as utilizing catering for some of the meals.

Nobody will be penalized for not attending. Remote/online participation is not an option, though one or two keynote presentations may be available live online or recorded for later viewing.

If someone needs additional support to be able to attend, they should please discuss their unique circumstances with their supervisor or either of the retreat co-chairs, Eve Wachhaus and Becky O’Brien.

Accommodations

Accommodations are, of course, provided and free for out-of-town staff. We will be staying at the lovely and comfortable Pearlstone Center. We have a lodging coordinator to assist all with their lodging selections. All rooms are Handicap Accessible, and several are ADA compliant. Registration for our staff gathering will include a place to indicate your lodging requests. In general, rooms will be double occupancy. A few of our lodging styles are cabins or homes, have multiple bedrooms and can accommodate single occupants in rooms. When you register, please let us know the name of someone you would like to share a room with if you have a preferred roommate in mind. Also please let us know if double occupancy is not an option for you. Pearlstone folks are being encouraged to be commuters so that the majority of rooms are available to our out-of-town colleagues. Lodging styles include Orchard Guests rooms that have 2 queen beds, Garden View rooms that are dormitory-style with single and bunk beds, and a few cabins that have both single and bunk beds. https://www.pearlstonecenter.org/retreats-rentals/our-campus/rooms-accomodations/

Pearlstone staff are encouraged to be commuters and go home each evening. Full Time staff who wish to stay over on campus should indicate that in their registration.

What am I going to eat??

Our farm-to-table food is delicious! Pearlstone strives to serve primarily plant-based meals that include our very own certified organic, seasonal vegetables straight from our farm. Registration for our staff gathering will include a place to indicate dietary needs such as vegan or celiac. All our food in the retreat center is Kosher under OU supervision. Water bottles can come into the retreat center (fill up at the beverage station!), but not in the dining room. People are welcome to bring any food items they wish to enjoy in their sleeping room.

We will be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks every day. A few of our meals will be catered by OU supervised restaurants in our area so that Pearlstone staff can spend more time engaged in staff gathering sessions.

PEARLSTONE FOOD ETHIC: It is our honor to nourish our guests in body, mind and soul. Pearlstone food honors the bounty of our seasons, the traditions of our ancestors and the integrity of sustainable agriculture. We strive to provide consciously outsourced, wholesome, delicious food inspired by crops grown on our farm and prepared with love. We always aim to improve, and we are proud to share our food journey with you all.

Eve says, try the Aji Verde on roasted farm vegetables!

COVID protocols

The health and safety of all people remains our top priority. While we outline our protocols here, please note that, consistently, Pearlstone’s protocols exceed government recommendations, including the guidance of CDC, federal, state and local advisories in our efforts to keep all people on our land as safe as possible.

A Johns Hopkins public health advisor reviews and helps Pearlstone in determining our COVID-19 protocols. All who come to Pearlstone complete a daily health screening which is shown to security in order to come on to campus. We will all complete the daily health screening each day.

Masks are worn indoors by all people regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also worn any time any one is unable to be at least 6’ apart. Dining Room is set according to our COVID-19 protocols limiting people at tables and spacing the chairs and apart. Masks must be worn when at the buffet. We will have heaters outdoors for those who prefer to dine outside and not in the Dining Room.

Pearlstone staff have a vaccination mandate. All staff are either fully vaccinated or have completed a medical or religious waiver and provide regular test results.

Additional COVID-19 protocols at Pearlstone include all cooks have completed ServSafe COVID-19 Precautionary training, all high-touch surfaces are disinfected using electrostatic guns, and the Retreat Center HVAC uses MERV 13 filters which are replaced quarterly.

For our Staff Gathering, all attendees will be asked to take a COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. COVID-19 PCR tests are widely available, at no cost, in your community. If you are not able to find a COVID-19 PCR test that is free or covered by insurance, please let Becky and Eve know. We will not be accepting Rapid Tests results. Once that testing is complete, we ask that all attendees limit any activities that could risk exposure, such as spending time unmasked indoors with others. We will ask everyone to present proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test results at check-in. Additionally, we will be sending COVID-19 travel guidance recommendations in a future email.

While these COVID-19 protocols are currently in place a pandemic is an ever-changing situation. Pearlstone will review COVID-19 positivity rates, CDC guidelines, any official mandates, and recommendations from our public health official 30 days before our gathering to determine if we would be required to postpone the gathering and if any additional COVID-19 safety measures will be put in place. As mentioned above, many times our COVID-19 protocols exceed government recommendations. Currently, we plan to hold the event! We are excited to have you here!

This Staff Gathering is for you! If there are specific COVID-19 requests or obstacles to attendance, kindly let us know.

How do I get paid for my time at the staff gathering and for travel?

Attendance at the staff gathering is compensable work time. Hourly employees will be paid for all scheduled hours during this pay period, including any overtime accrued during the pay period because of attendance at the staff gathering.

What about my regular job responsibilities during this time?

Participation in the staff gathering is a priority. Our hope is that the staff gathering will be a time that you can pause your regular responsibilities and sink into the special time and space of the gathering. We also recognize that some of us will have work responsibilities as the host of the staff gathering. Department Directors will be excusing staff when needed for essential tasks related to the campus facilities and staff gathering. As co-chairs we will be coordinating meal helpers so that all in attendance at the staff gathering can participate in the kindness of service.

What if I have additional child care/elder care needs because of the gathering?

After substantial research, we have come to learn that it is not industry standard to provide subsidies for dependent care for occasional work-related travel. With that said, we understand this staff gathering may put pressure on those who have child care and elder care needs, and plan to provide some support in service to our JEDI principles and values.

For that reason, we are offering up to $400 in dependent care subsidies for staff with demonstrated additional needs resulting from the staff gathering. The $400 may be used to offset dependent care costs. For staff with children under one year old, the subsidy may be used to subsidize travel for a partner to assist with childcare at the retreat. In those scenarios, partners are welcome to join us for meals but should otherwise provide space for our programming during regular work hours.

Those applying for a dependent care subsidy need to fill out a short form and applications will be reviewed and responses shared in 5-7 business days. The initial requests will be sent to Rebecca Eisen, Hazon’s HR Manager. There will be discussion with Shuli Karkowsky and Eve Wachhaus to review requests. These submissions will be confidential and will only be discussed at the time of determining who will get subsidies. If you do get the subsidy, it will be added into your paycheck. If you do not get the subsidy, a reason will be provided to you by Rebecca Eisen. Information will not be shared publicly.

To Apply Click HERE

It is difficult to address every scenario in a blanket policy. If you have needs not addressed here, or have questions about how to apply this policy, please reach out to Rebecca.Eisen@Hazon.org.

All work and no play? Not at all!

The Staff Gathering Task Force is busy thinking of ways that this can be a gathering for work, yes, and also for play, to engage and relax, and, especially, to feel appreciated. We look forward to sharing more about these aspects as the details fall into place.

Have questions that aren’t addressed here? 

Please write Eve or Becky