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Jackrabbits stiff nonprofits

Organizations worked concession stands to raise funds; several await payment months later

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NOW SERVING — A volunteer with Bridges Outreach works the concession stand at Kokomo Municipal Stadium during a game in June.

Nonprofits are hoping the Kokomo Jackrabbits still will pony up money they are owed.

During the last baseball season, the Kokomo Jackrabbits operated an initiative where the concession stands at Kokomo Municipal Stadium would be staffed by volunteers representing various nonprofits from around the area. That labor was provided in trade for a share of the profits from concession sales during games. But, multiple organizations confirmed they have yet to be paid, with some of them nearly three months removed from when their representatives worked.

The deal was that organizations would work during Jackrabbits games, and they would earn a percentage of the profits, 10 percent, if the concession stands made more than $3,000 during the game worked. If sales didn’t reach that threshold, then the organizations were guaranteed $300. Multiple groups took advantage of the opportunity to earn funding for their nonprofits or charities.

It’s unclear how many groups worked the games or the exact total of how much money is owed to the nonprofits in total, but several organizations haven’t been paid for the labor they provided at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.

One organization partaking in the initiative was Western Project Playground, a group that’s been raising funding for the construction of a special needs, inclusive playground at Western Primary School.

That group, according to a representative of the organization, worked nine games during the last baseball season, providing about 10 volunteers for each game. They have been paid $600 so far for those efforts but still are owed $2,100. The last game worked by the group was on about Aug. 11, with organizers claiming they were told they would receive payment 30 days after each game.

According to a representative of the Western Project Playground, the group has had contact with Jackrabbits representatives, but the last communications came in mid-September.

“I’ve been told they will make it right and to be patient, so that’s kind of what I’ve been doing,” said the representative. “I’m not one to make a big fuss over it, although I feel like we worked the hours. So, we need to be compensated. I’m trying to hope they’re true to their word, and it is coming. But they’re trying to sort it all out.”

Bona Vista also sent volunteers to work Jackrabbits games, and the nonprofit has yet to be paid in full as well.

“Bona Vista was a partner with the Jackrabbits this year providing volunteers to 12 games with 15 volunteers apiece. And we are currently working with management, and we anticipate being paid in full in the future,” said a representative in a prepared statement.

The Bona Vista representative confirmed they worked under the same rate guidelines as others laid out but declined to specify whether partial payment had been received. If it hasn’t, that equates to at least $3,600 owed to the nonprofit.

Western Band Boosters also confirmed the organization was awaiting partial payment from the Jackrabbits. A Western Band Boosters representative confirmed its volunteers worked five games during the last season and had received compensation for four so far. The representative claimed $300 still was owed to Western Band Boosters. The last game the group worked was July 7.

In a statement from Jackrabbits General Manager John Perszyk, he maintained that all those who partook in working concessions still will receive payment.

“We have every intention to pay our obligations with an immediate focus on these groups,” said Perszyk. “We have been in contact with these groups and have explained that the Jackrabbits had a very difficult year for a host of reasons and that front office is currently working on a plan to get us back on course.”