Dear MEND (meet each need with dignity), I love you but you are breaking my heart.
Yes, I know you are low on money and owe a staggering debt – and that old flagship building on Van Nuys seems like the logical and easy solution. If you sell the building it is a large influx of cash and you don’t have to pay insurance and utilities and staff… I get it. I really do.
The residents of Pacoima do not. (Wait, I am a resident of Pacoima. I actually bought my house so I could be within walking distance and then sought out ways to be more involved.) I hear how people used to talk about MEND and I know that it has lost it’s “Street cred”. The people who relied on the after-school tutoring, who needed to learn to sew to afford to clothe their households – the job seekers who only spoke Spanish – they feel slighted by this move. MEND is one of the vital hearts in this community.
Your donors don’t understand why a two page, personally stamped letter is being sent out about everything being closed and then a completely free and redundant service being added. Removing barriers to self-sufficiency for low-income mothers and their children is something already being provided by DPSS in the GAIN program. You know this as the Welfare to Work program and approximately 200 of your volunteers came from this program in 2014. Social Work interns are free, your only cost is their supervisor and nametags. Janet Marinaccio, an email, a Video Blog, a blog post: there are less expensive ways to reach your donors.
I am being told that this is temporary and all those services will come back and happen in the new building – but at this point, I don’t know what to believe. Maybe I am still stung that for a volunteer-run organisation it was awkward that you cancelled the volunteer recognition party.