Posts Tagged donations

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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Take it in the teeth

Here is a public statement from the current executive director of  “The Keep”.

 “The biggest public perception is that these people are lazy and don’t want to work. With mental illness, somebody has to look after them with more compassion, more nurturing and more love.”

The following is a handout from “The Keep’s” executive staff to clients, expressing  “more compassion, more nurturing and more love”.  Since this communication is public domain, I see no need to remove the name of the organization.

To ALL Austin Street Clients:

“A letter full of lies, and unsigned, was sent to the State of Texas Parole Board and our Board of Directors about supposed terrible things being done at our shelter. I know this was not done by one person alone. Whoever wrote it had help. I don’t care who did it now. 

But I have said enough times, you will all take it in the teeth when someone does destructive things. I suggest you talk to the person that did it and tell them thanks for making your lives a little harder. 

No one is told they have to stay with us. Go somewhere else if you don’t like it. 

Start acting like adults and stand up for what you think is right. Men and women of character do this. Otherwise, complaining as no purpose. And people with guts don’t hide. Kids do. 

You are all adults; start acting like it. No one owes you anything. This shelter exists to help and care for you better than any other. Is this how to say thanks? 

No childlike behavior will be tolerated at all to any degree. Acting like adults is one part of moving forward.”

The executive director then “punished” all clients by not permitting admission to the shelter until 5 p.m. and left town. Upon his return the following Monday the “ban” was lifted.

“The Keep”  makes public promises to solicit money and I do believe it owes what it promises since supporters contributions are based upon those promises made.

And if the executive staff of  “The Keep” expects “Thank you”, they have no place working at “The Keep”. Nothing they do is a contribution, they get paid for their time and work, everything else comes from donors who deserve thanks and gratitude. And what does it say about a person’s character expecting “thank you” working in this field anyway? Is that a solid Christian way of thinking?

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Conundrum

I have reached a point where continuing most likely will expose the organization in this blog and with that may have consequences for people living there. Not that I want to gamble with their well-being, but for my own sake I have to keep on writing. Thinking about the members on the board of directors it can also have repercussions for me and my family. But if I can make a difference in just one person’s life it would be worth it, regardless of what follows. That sounds so cliché, but that is what life is all about, isn’t it, pursuing that one moment where we can step out and distinguish ourselves from the crowd.

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Setting examples I

I remember several years ago the then executive director instructing the special assistant to falsify a drug test, which by the way were always targeted (never random, always aimed at a specific person) and used to intimidate and ban people. In this case the director did not approve of a black man wanting to date a white woman and decided to create circumstances that allowed expelling him from the shelter. “God marked us differently so we know and don’t mix, he wants us to stay pure”, was this directors conviction. Mentioning evolution would be answered with “well, no monkey has evolved in front of me yet”.

In another case a man was accused of having rented a storage unit to store things he supposedly stole from the shelter. There was no evidence, no witness to this accusation…  the whole story was conceived and carefully coordinated in the directors office to expel the man and tell him if he complained a report would be filed with the police “and who do you think they will believe? A homeless guy or me?”. This poor man had “dared” on several occasions to point out unfair and unjust treatment of several homeless people and no one questioned the director, ever.

Then there were several people, one man and one woman in particular, who could get away with just about anything. Nothing was done when they came in high on drugs, drunk, they could take whatever they wanted from donations, eat whenever they wanted, come and go as they saw fit – simply because they would inform the director of everything that was said and done within the general  shelter population. On a weekly basis these people would be paid with money allocated for people who worked odd jobs around the shelter – money that was donated in good faith by a person, a business, a church, a foundation.

….. to be continued

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Conflict of interest

The saga continues now that “The Keep” has a new executive director. One of the new sub-directors brought in a federal organization to help the homeless. Turns out, in granting access to the homeless population within “The Keep” a $20,000 scholarship debt was forgiven which the sub-director would have had to pay back. Of course, afterwards a point was made on how much the organization would benefit the homeless population with the services it provides. The only one that benefited was the one who just “lost” a $20,000 debt. Three days after the executive director’s assistant pointed out the conflict of interest and the executive director admitted “he might have known about the debt”, the assistant was fired.

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What to do with $500,000

Claiming your donations are being used to help the homeless is not always the truth. Half a million dollars could pay the rent for how many people for how long? That amount recently was paid to the retiring executive director by the board of directors of “The Keep”. Of course there was a non-disclosure agreement attached to the money, but that was violated the first day the outgoing executive had a hardcopy. The outgoing executive had expected a million dollars and was very upset about getting “only” half, showing the contract to everyone who would listen and with that violating the terms, but the board of directors went ahead and paid anyway. “The Keep”, claiming to care for the homeless will reimburse medical supplement insurance cost for the retiree as well.

However, the homeless people working at the “The Keep” receive a stipend every two weeks under the pretense they are being trained. The truth is that these homeless people are being exploited, there is no training and the positions they hold should be filled with employees. Matter of fact, most of the people running “The Keep” are homeless people paid via stipend, denying them lawful employee rights and protection.

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