we care

CHARITY — Van Taylor, director of Kokomo Rescue Mission, accepts a check from We Care in December.

We Care incurred a fair amount of criticism recently for making a big purchase, but the nonprofit’s board president is defending the organization.

The We Care board took some flak last month after the organization purchased the former Aldi building on S.R. 931. Some said the organization could have used the money for better purposes, and others decried the move as against the organization’s founding principles.

Brian Bronson, the son of We Care founder Dick Bronson, took issue with the wording of a press release issued to announce the purchase of the former Aldi, which claimed the move was a “longtime dream” of the organization’s founders.

“My father, Dick Bronson, most certainly did not have a dream about owning a building for We Care. He will literally roll over in his grave at the assumption that this is one of his dreams. He was for and only for distributing money to our local charities to help the needy all year round,” said Bronson in a comment on social media that has since been deleted.

Similarly, We Care’s website claims “The We Care Hope Fund will invest all donations, gifts, bequests, and memorials in trust until such time as the We Care Telethon should cease to exist.”

Rebecca Varnell, We Care’s board president, said the organization’s founding principles still hold true and that only the organization’s “profits” were used to purchase the building. Dollars donated to the organization for designated purposes were only ever used for those purposes, she said.

“That Aldi building was only purchased by any funds we made off of any designated dollars,” said Varnell. “Every time someone gives you a dollar and tells you they want to use it for this or this, you by law have to do that. So if someone gives me money and it’s for the trust fund, it has to go toward the trust fund. It can’t be put to go to any of the agencies. It can’t be used for any other thing but that. That’s been honored throughout. Now any monies made off of investments, which are dollars that are given to us, we take a portion of those dollars, we invest them to grow this, which was part of the reason we have a trust fund. Well, it’s not a trust; it’s a fund. The reason we have the Hope fund was to make money off of the money that people were putting in. So we’ve made money. We’ve not touched it. That’s why it’s growing to the large amount that it’s at.”

She hopes, in the long run, the building’s maintenance and utilities would be covered completely by either interest on the fund or local businesses that have pledged to assist the nonprofit. The building also would be used by other nonprofits throughout the course of the year, she said. Varnell also said We Care’s options for other events would be expanded by the purchase of the building.