During the Outreach board meeting on Thurday evening (Oct. 8) treasurer Sue Dobie said, “Because we couldn’t get our computers to work we couldn’t submit the information they [United Way] needed in the format they needed it in. We are desperate here; we need some people to volunteer to help us with the computer. We have lost our funding from United Way and that means we have lost our ability for employees from companies [that support United Way] to designate us.”
Board member Chuck Campbell passed out copies of correspondence between Outreach and United Way. Attached was a letter from Catrina Wilson, president and CEO of United Way, in which she wrote, “Your organization did not submit the required financial information. As a result, your Community fund allocation and Donor-Directed Designations for August 2009 have been forfeited.” Should the required financial information not be submitted using the ODM by Aug. 31, 2009, all funding for the remainder of the contract year will be forfeited.”
Lisa Steen asked, “So how much money are we talking about?” Dobie answered, “We had $385 a month, but what we had from donor designated was much more. You can see in the budget what we had gotten before was $19,859. We need some people who are computer literate to get the stuff we need to make these things work. There are four of us here and none of us are capable of that.”
Campbell countered, “This isn’t about not being able to send one report. This goes all the way back to last year. If you look at the handouts, this documents the events that led to our losing the United Way funding.”
After the meeting, Michael McCormick of the George West City Council said, “I am frustrated that we lost our funding from United Way. That money covers the basic operations of Outreach. Without that funding, I predict Outreach will be out of money in 12-14 months. And the excuse that was put forth was that we had a computer problem. That may be true but it is the responsibility of management to get the resources they need to help solve the problem.”
Unexpectedly, Pat Traxler with Brush Country Cowboy Church spoke up on budget guidelines for organizations with reference to their members. “Each organization that has board members must have Outreach as a line item on their annual budget. They are required to include a financial donation to the Outreach,” Traxler said.
Rev. Doug Hinchcliff responded, “At First United Methodist Church in George West, we have three separate offering days where we collect for Outreach. It is part of our mission and evangelism but we don’t have a separate line item for Outreach.”
Campbell then asked, “Well, in that case, how many members here specifically have Outreach named in their official budget?”
Hinchcliff responded, “I know that the Lions Club doesn’t; they don’t have a budget. If they don’t modify it [bylaws], then the Methodist church will have to rotate off. I don’t think the Catholic church [St. George] has Outreach as a line item on their budget either.”
John Ed Holland of St. George Catholic Church said, “We give through St. Vincent de Paul organization.”
“I am listening to Pat [Traxler] say Outreach has to be a line item in the budget. I don’t know that I’m going to be sitting here with the Lions Club at the next meeting and I don’t know if Elaine [Hinchcliff] is going to be here with the Methodist church because we just voted on our budget Sunday night. Or the Catholic church [St. George], unless they change the wording on their budget, because of Pat’s [Traxler] understanding of the rules,” Hinchcliff said.
“Well, then you guys may not be qualified,” Traxler said. “It says in our bylaws for an organization to be eligible to put on board members you must have Outreach named in your budget. Without Outreach in your budget as an organization you can’t seat board members. You can give a contribution but you can’t put on board members. Until you are able and willing to put Outreach on your budget you are not eligible to be on the board. It’s in the bylaws.”
The following day, McCormick said to The Progress, “I think when someone offers their hand for public service it should be taken because it is harder and harder to get those types of people. It doesn’t make sense to me. Some of the bylaws may not be 100% perfect and those need to be corrected along the way. But if in your heart, you are trying to serve the community and you are turned away; well, I think that is a huge problem. All we were doing was arguing about bylaws and not thinking about the larger goals. The people who need our help are going to miss out.”
The agenda item of Christmas gifts and Christmas food baskets was addressed. Discussion on the amount to spend in light of the loss of anticipated funds ensued. Traxler made a motion to give the same amount as last year, which was $8,000. In other agenda items, Outreach Executive Director Marion Fulbright gave the volunteer report listing the number of volunteers, hours worked, clients served, and clients who came for a second visit. “We are holding pretty steady in this quarter for clients with second visits,” Fulbright said.
Afterward, Hinchcliff addressed Fulbright, “I just heard that you are now requiring proof of income to get food, when did that change?” Fulbright responded, “We started that two months ago when the food pantry lady was here.”
“Is that an edict from the food pantry?” asked Hinchcliff. Fulbright answered, “They said we don’t have to but, we are allowed to. We are trying to follow along with the churches, the pastors in Three Rivers, when they give food out once a month they require that.”
Jeanelle Darling of Good Hope Church confirmed Fulbright’s statement. “At the Pastors’ Food Bank, we ask for a pay stub to verify income status. We look at it but we do not Xerox it.” Darling went on to say if a person comes up to them and asks for food but doesn’t have a pay stub, they ask them to bring it the next time. They don’t turn people away.
Traxler agreed, “We don’t want to turn anyone away just because they could not prove their income. This is part of the bureaucracy that we have to deal with outside of our organization, but we are not going to turn anyone away.”
Fulbright said they had only turned away one person but she “couldn’t place the individual.” She went on say, “I know we have had people come in here and they are driving a $45,000 vehicle and have tattoos out the wazoo and gold jewelry and they say they make $4,000, well...”
Hinchcliff replied before she finished and said, “I don’t want to judge people or sit here and try to straighten the world out. If someone comes here in a brand-new Cadillac, well, God love them, but I’m not here to judge that person. Pat [Traxler] and I are in harmony on this one; unless there is some real issue, we are going to feed people when they are in need. If someone comes through that door and says I need food, well, that is what we are here for.”
The board went on to nominations recommended by the nominating committee. Virginia Horton read the names of those selected: John Ed Holland was nominated as president; JoAnn Thoms was nominated as vice president; Dorothy Jo Franke as secretary; and Sue Dobie as treasurer. Celia Ruiz of Sacred Heart Church asked that the names of the nominees be repeated. Hinchcliff spoke up and said, “Before you do that, you have to ask if there are any nominations from the floor. The nominating committee can make nominations but they have to accept nominations from the floor.”
Traxler declared, “The bylaws state that the officers shall be nominated by a nominating committee. There are no other provisions. I serve on seven boards, and out of those seven boards, six of them do it this exact order. They all are 501-C.”
Hinchcliff said, “If we are going to have an election, then we have an ambiguity here because the nominating committee is the only one that can present nominations. There is no need for an election; it is already done. However, because Pat’s interpretation of the bylaws stating they have to have Outreach on their budget, not all of those who are nominated qualify.”
In other Outreach news, David Donaldson with the Lagarto Community project gave an update on the fire victims. “First of all, let me thank you so much for your donation of $18,000. It enabled us, together with Ministry Resource Service and Texas Baptist Men, to provide eight mobile homes (three bedrooms) to fire victims who were literally left homeless and without any means of recouping their losses. We also provide two mobile homes (two bedrooms) to fire victims that are presently being used as private offices and storage during this project. However, we are still in need of $30,000.”
Dobie gave the treasurer’s report. She said in total the Outreach has $69,091. The operating account has $29,311; the United Way account has $9,785, and the reserve account has $29,994. However, in addition to losing the United Way funding, Outreach did not receive certain monies from the county that in the previous six months had totaled $25,000. After Dobie gave the report, Hinchcliff said, “This is an excellent report. I give you accolades on this.”