This is a commentary I should have written long ago. Several years ago, my wife, Connie, and I attended an estate sale for one of the principles of We Care. The estate sale was essentially like any other with one exception.
There were significant amounts of English-made Waterford crystal and Longerberger baskets. We collect cut glass; therefore, we purchased a lot of the Waterford crystal. The collection of the owner far surpassed any we had accumulated over the years.
The two articles in the April 29 edition of the Kokomo Perspective concerning the lack of giving back to the community during this exceptional time of crisis reminded me of my concerns in the past. The article by Perspective writer Devin Zimmerman was about the apparent contradiction in the goals and objectives of We Care.
We Care has always highlighted the existence of a rainy-day fund. Well, that rainy-day fund now totals over $5 million and is growing every year. What the We Care board doesn’t seem to understand is the rainy day is here, and the moneys accumulated to date should be distributed to the deserving charitable organizations such as the Kokomo Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Bona Vista, Kokomo Urban Outreach, Mental Health America, and the Goodfellows, just to name a few.
The citizens of Kokomo and Howard County have worked hard to amass the $5-million bank account administered by the We Care board. The hard-earned funds belong to the community, not to the We Care board. The We Care board has essentially become bankers. Out of this $5 million fund last year, the board allocated a measly $415,000. The allocation policy of We Care should be a zero-sum game. All moneys collected by We Care should be distributed each year with just enough left to maintain overheads and pay the salary of the staff.
When asked by the Perspective if there would be any financial assistance provided prior to the Christmas season, the board responded, “At this time we plan to hold our annual fundraiser, which include the Trim-A-Tree Festival/Auction, Telethon, and wrap-up auction.” What kind of response is that in this time of community suffering and despair? In other words, it is business as usual at We Care.
Kokomo and Howard County have always been a caring and giving community. The community works hard for the United Way, the Kokomo Rescue Mission, Bona Vista, and other deserving charities. The community works even harder for We Care supporting We Care’s various annual fundraisers.
The $415,000 We Care annual contribution is a paltry 7.8 percent of the $5 million trust fund. Based on past annual funding, the trust fund will increase yet another few thousand dollars this year while more deserving charities are seeing reduced income as their fundraisers cancelled, like Bona Vista’s Greatest Spectacle in Tasting.
Local charitable organizations have reduced manpower, cut expenses wherever possible, cancelled fundraisers, and some are barely holding on. The reduction in manpower is not only hurting charities, but it also is hurting the families who depended on the charity for their income. Kokomo and Howard County charitable organizations cannot wait for meager handouts in December. The crisis is real, and the crisis is now.
The We Care board should realize the rainy day is here. In fact the present situation is a tsunami, a hurricane, a cyclone. No one could imagine what has happened to our country, brought on by the coronavirus.
It is time for the $5 million trust fund that We Care has accumulated through the blood, sweat, and tears of our wonderful community to be put to use rescuing other deserving charitable organizations. And I am not talking about some of the trust fund; I am talking about ALL of the fund.
A crisis such as this, brought on by the coronavirus, warrants a community mobilization for all citizens of Kokomo and Howard County. And that mobilization includes cash-rich We Care. These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary actions. As I said before in this article, “We Care, the rainy day is here.”