Join our residential working community
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Joining our residential coordinator community for a period of service can be an incredibly special and unique experience. The opportunity to experience practice and work within a Dharma community setting can provide a rich base for deepening practice and combining it with everyday life.
The gift of service
With the support of the teachers, the Retreat Manager and the wider staff team, our coordinators look after our retreatants and retreat space, playing an essential role in ensuring that Gaia House can continue to offer a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment able to offer refuge and inspiration. This gift of service makes it possible for all those who come to Gaia House to benefit from the silence and teachings.
Typical day-to-day coordinator tasks differ from role to role. You can find a brief outline of each role at the bottom of this page.
Our coordinators have regular interview opportunities with local teachers and fortnightly ‘Dharma Discussion’ sessions, where the coordinator group gets together to explore Dharma themes with the guidance of a teacher.
Every year we organise a dedicated retreat for the coordinator team and coordinators also have the opportunity to join in with our group retreat programme free of charge throughout the year during their time off.
Following their stay, our coordinators benefit from eight weeks of free retreat time for every year of service to the house. This helps provide continued support for practice and a long-lasting connection with Gaia House.
At home in the house
Our coordinators have their own dedicated wing within the house, which includes a meditation room and a shared staff living/dining room. Each coordinator has their own bedroom and there are four bathrooms. There is also a designated area of the garden for the coordinators’ private use. For those without a car, a Gaia House car is available to borrow when it is not needed for house business.
Monthly stipend and Dana
In addition to board and lodging our coordinators receive a monthly stipend and a share of any donations (Dana) given by retreatants for the coordinator group.
Applying to become a coordinator
To join the coordinator community at Gaia House you need to be committed to regular meditation practice and have a sincere interest in exploring practice in the context of everyday life whilst living in community. You also need to have been on retreat at Gaia House, which we can help arrange as part of your application process if necessary.
We recommend that periods of service are 18-24 months to support continuity and stability in the house, but we are open to applications for periods of 12 months.
If you are interested in applying for a coordinator position now or in future, please send an email to Susanne O’Brien (our Retreat Manager) – firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Abdy (our Admin & HR Manager) – email@example.com
Susanne or Sarah will arrange a convenient time to speak with you about the coordinator role, answer any questions you may have and send you an application pack.
Once you have submitted your application form, the next step in the process is a six-day ‘try-out’ visit to Gaia House. This is an informal opportunity to meet the coordinator and non-residential staff teams, as well as teachers, and explore whether offering service to Gaia House feels appropriate for you at this time.
Current & upcoming opportunities to join the coordinator team:
If you are interested in applying for a position that may open up in the future, please email Susanne (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sarah (email@example.com) to request an application form or arrange a time to chat further about the role.
An outline of the various coordinator roles on offer at Gaia House
Our eight coordinators are a tight-knit team that works together very closely. Each role requires flexibility and a willingness to support and collaborate with other departments. This can make for a rich and varied period of service and learning.
Kitchen: With the support of our Kitchen Supervisor, our two Kitchen Coordinators help provide a delicious and nourishing vegetarian menu for all our retreatants. It’s a busy department that caters for between 25 and 100 people daily. The role also involves helping monitor supplies and budgets, and planning meals that are based on foods that are in season – particularly incorporating produce harvested from our own garden. One work retreatant assists the kitchen team.
Household: Our two Household Coordinators prepare the house and rooms for the arrival of retreatants. The role involves ensuring that the house is cared for and cleaned to a high standard ready for the next group of retreats, whether they are group, personal or work retreats. The Household Coordinators also cook/help in the kitchen on one or two days each month. Full training for cooking is provided, and cooks by our Household Coordinators are scheduled for quieter days when we have low numbers of people in the house. The household team is supervised by the Retreat Manager and assisted by two work retreatants.
Maintenance: Our Maintenance Coordinator helps to ensure the smooth running of the house by undertaking a wide variety of basic maintenance-related tasks, including controlling the hot water and central heating, replacing fuses and light bulbs and carrying out minor DIY repairs. The role also involves helping the other coordinator departments to support the ongoing operation of Gaia House, for example working closely with the Garden Coordinator to ensure essential tasks are covered and cooking/helping in the kitchen. Full training for cooking is provided, and cooks by our Maintenance Coordinator are scheduled for quieter days when we have low numbers of people in the house. The Maintenance Coordinator is supervised and supported by the Maintenance Manager who provides comprehensive training. The roles is also assisted by one work retreatant.
Garden: Our Garden Coordinator is responsible for the running of our organic vegetable garden and the maintenance of the ornamental gardens, lawns, hedges and wooded areas. Supervised by the Maintenance Manager and assisted by one work retreatant, the Garden Coordinator usually cooks/helps in the kitchen on one or two days each month. Full training for cooking is provided, and cooks by our Garden Coordinator are scheduled for quieter days when we have low numbers of people in the house.
Reception: Our two Reception Coordinators handle bookings and enquiries from retreatants, and are responsible for keeping the reception office running smoothly. Supervised by the HR & Admin Manager, the Reception Coordinators cook/help in the kitchen on one or two days each month. Full training for cooking is provided, and cooks by our Reception Coordinators are scheduled for quieter days when we have low numbers of people in the house.
“Becoming a coordinator has changed my life. It has been an incredible opportunity to explore what service and life in community means. It’s been challenging at times, but the care and support received overpowers whatever difficulty one may encounter; when approached with awareness, support and the right view, everything can be converted into an opportunity to practise and grow. Here I’ve felt not only part of a team, but part of a much bigger project: that of the awakening of all human beings. It’s been a real privilege to be part of this.”
July 2012 – August 2014 and April-September 2015
“No one type of person signs up to serve the Dharma at Gaia House, and that’s one of the beauties of community life here. I shared the coordinators’ wing with such a diverse crew over my two years as reception coordinator and learnt so much. To take one’s temporary home (and office!) in an environment of practice and honest enquiry, with the wonderful and compassionate support structures that Gaia House has in place…it’s a rare and blessed gift. Although I have moved on, I still feel very much a part of the family and have made such deeply nurturing friendships as a result of my service.”
August 2011 – September 2013
“Becoming a coordinator living and working at Gaia House was such a wonderful and precious opportunity to explore an integrated whole-life practice. Living, working and meditating at Gaia House created the space to explore community, service and formal practice in a more harmonious and balanced way. At times one or other of these would take more prominence but there was always a movement towards balance and integration of these diverse parts of our lives and lots of support along the way. It was a challenging and joyful, rewarding time, with the greatest challenge of all being how to create some echo of all I experienced as a coordinator in my life after leaving Gaia House – a work in progress.”
January 2009 – June 2011 and June-July 2015