Posts Tagged business

Women and children kicked to the curb

Last week school started back up here in Dallas. Four women with children resided at “The Keep” at that time. On Monday morning the director of client services came in around 9 am and found out that these women didn’t have their children ready when the school bus came to pick them up. Needless to say, the children did not attend school that day.

The director of client services then had these four women, their children and their belongings loaded into the shelter van, a van that had been donated to the shelter to transport clients to and from work, doctors appointment and other constructive activities, and had them dumped in front of another shelter, thrown out on the street despite one of the desk supervisors at “The Keep” confirming via a phone call that the other shelter had no room for four women and their children. The driver was instructed by the director of client services “just leave them there and come back”.

Now here is where I am confused. If I were the director of client services and I made it my business to make sure the children get to school, would I not inform the mothers of when the children needed to be ready for the bus? Would I not be at the shelter at 7 am on the first day of school to make sure the moms had all the support they needed? And would I not call CPS if I thought the moms were neglecting their duty?

How were the children being helped, did the action of the director of services make a difference? They still did not get to school that day and not knowing where the children ended up, maybe back with their abusive father, I can’t say if they made it to school at all yet.

No one can convince me that four women conspired not to have their children ready that day! Somehow, and since I know the director of client services, I know someone didn’t do their job.

How can one provide services to the homeless when the shelter discharges people at 6 am in the morning until 1:30 pm, and the director of client services works from 9 am until 4 or 5 pm with an hour lunch in between?

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The myth of gift cards

Christmas 2011 the shelter asked gift cards to be donated to the clients. There was a wish tree with angels and the angels had a number corresponding to a specific client. Visitors to “The Keep” would take these angels and return gift cards, reassured the person whose number was on the angel would get the gift card. However, it was not permitted to hand these cards directly to the clients, they had to be turned in to the executive director. “We are trying to keep it fair for everyone and will hand out the cards on the 23rd” was the official explanation.

Now the executive director went and bought $5 cards, handed those and a few of the donated cards to the clients and kept many $20, $25, $50 and even $100 cards in his office, not inventoried, “for later use”, gave some to vendors and was contemplating to give some to his children when they came to the shelter “to do some good work”.

These gift cards were designated for specific people, and not to supplement the shelter’s budget or be given to vendors.

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Work Program

According to the DOL, an employee is in a learning position if she/he receives training similar to that which would be received in a vocational school. The employer cannot receive immediate benefit from the employee’s training and her/his presence cannot displace regular employees. She/he is under the watchful eye of a regular employee or trainer. In addition, the employee and the employer both understand the terms of the arrangement and the employee understands she/he is not entitled to wages for her time in training. Her/his training may lead to a job, but it does not necessarily have to lead to a guaranteed position.

“The Keep” has the homeless do everything, from checking the homeless in, cleaning, cooking, sorting donations, to office work and more for a stipend of $80 or $100 every two weeks. There is no training!  The shelter definitely benefits as they don’t have to hire employees to fill these positions. These work program participants are considered staff and most believe they are employed by “The Keep”, even request employment verification forms to be filled out at times,  only  to learn then that they are and never have been employees.

The work program is an abstract concept on paper to solicit foundation money and to avoid paying wages.

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“Merchandising”

Visitors permitted into the shelter only saw and heard what the “Trident” had carefully orchestrated, some homeless people were “asked” to leave for a few hours out of fear they would cause problems, or simply because they did not “look” the part, and others were instructed on what to do and say, even had to change clothe so it would look like in-kind donations were used appropriate. The daughter would grab some women and set them up to give the impression classes were being taught. Afterwards these women would be paid for their participation.

Should a representative of a grant foundation come to visit, homeless would be paired up with employees in order to give the impression of a functional work rehab program, women would be set up again to look like a class, and a computer room was “all of a sudden functional” to teach resume skills. Again, payment was made to encourage the homeless to participate in the perception and to encourage “desirable” behavior.

There always was and still is the implication of dire consequences should one not comply, intentionally or accidentally.

Through the years practicum students from mayor universities would come to the shelter, not so much to make a difference, but to “practice” what they have learned thus far. Not that the homeless would gain anything, but the association with that university looks very good on paper when asking foundations for money. Of course, people were carefully selected and paid by the shelter director to participate in these courses.

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Homeless people are needed

Homeless people are “homeless”, not coatless or sandwichless!  Sure, they do need temporarily help with clothing and food, but beyond that I have not seen one donor coming back “hey, I got a place for you to stay”. Why is that?

Those in need and those wanting to help have entered into a symbiotic relationship. On one side the needy have their short-term need answered by receiving a free coat and a sandwich and on the other the person providing the coat and sandwich feels good about handing out donations.

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