My husband and I have been avid supporters of the HELP Center since we moved to the Hill full time 11 years ago. We have donated many personal items, along with supporting its fundraisers. We have always felt the HELP Center was a valuable asset to the community and those in need.
As a home stager and move coordinator, I have the opportunity to assist people who need to down size and clear items from their homes. This has given me many occasions to bring their unneeded furniture, accessories and clothing to the HELP Center.
These items have been in better than average condition. It has given me and my clients great satisfaction knowing that someone who might not be able to afford such things on their own have a chance to purchase them at a pricemuch less than cost price. It may be the nicest thing in their home, something they might not otherwise have.
A few weeks ago, while visiting one of my favorite antique shops in town, I found what I had donated for a client, to the HELP Center for sale in the shop.
I am very unhappy about this. In fact, horrified, that this was not for sale at the actual thrift shop. My client’s intent was that someone would benefit from the item, not that it would be marked up and sold outside the thrift shop.
The HELP Center receives a great many funds from many sources throughout the community, county and state. It also has some of the most successful fundraisers on the Hill. To think that the board is so greedy that they need to take items from the very clients it serves to make more money, defeats the very purpose for which the community donates items.
The intent of my furniture and décor accessory donations is to give those who would not otherwise be able to afford these items a chance to have something that would enhance their living conditions. They would have something that they could take pride in and hence, improve their self-esteem. This is certainly the intent of my clients and me; that this opportunity is not offered to clients of the HELP Center is not acceptable to me.
The idea that money is the sole goal of a nonprofit organization that helps people on so many levels is just not where I want my resources to go. Maybe I am just too altruistic to expect item donations to be an opportunity to improve the clients living conditions.
I have resisted writing this letter, but in talking to others that share our view of this practice, I decided to speak up. There is more to the well-being of the human condition than money.
I have spoken to Lou Bacher, president of the Board. He indicated the “extra” money these items garner will go to HELP Center clients with utility bills, medical bills, etc.
I and others contend that the donations they lose by the practice of off-site sales will lead to more of a loss than the extra money would amount to.
If this practice continues, my husband and I will no longer be able to support the HELP Center through donations of items, food or fundraising.
The HELP Center is most important to the well-being of our Hill and the many people in our community who need assistance. It is our sincere hope that the board will reconsider this policy.
Editor’s note: The Fern Valley Emporium has set aside space in its location for the HELP Center to place goods which it hopes will raise a higher price than at the Center. This space is identified for the HELP Center items.