As many of you know, we started Adam’s Hope almost 10 years ago. With creative ideas and a lot of time and hard work (in addition to raising autistic son Adam and his younger brother Logan) we have had the honour of helping families in our community affected by autism, help themselves and get what they needed for their sons and daughters. Since March, I have gradually passed the torch to three mothers who have the energy and the drive and the enthusiasm among themselves to keep the charity alive and well so it can continue to service our community. I also have to tip my hat to the families who regularly put on fundraisers to give back to Adam’s Hope and each other time and again, and I hope they continue to do so. While Tom, Adam, Logan and I will still be involved with raising funds and helping out however and whenever we can, it is time for us to enjoy this new phase of our life. Our boys are older, more mature and capable and Adam is going to be just fine and we are now allowed to have a more “normal” family life.
In all the years of putting on events and raising awareness, we have encountered the most wonderful people and while every gesture of kindness has been appreciated, one of the more recent and bigger ones, has been a downright fiasco that has unfortunately left a sour taste in our mouths. The level of disorganization, the lack of proper communication, the insult and rudeness we have been shown by a particular organizing member of a local chapter of The 100 Men Who Care Quinte, has forced me to tell people what really happened. I believe the members – the men who show up to the meetings are very well intended. I believe the organizing committee, (including the one very rude individual), is well intended but they were far too disorganized to get things done in the efficient manner of their counterparts, The 100 Women Who Care Quinte. Now that I have been told that the 100 Men Who Care Quinte is blaming their tardiness and shoddiness on the charity I created with my husband for this community, I am going to tell you and the members of the !00 Men who Care Quinte what REALLY happened.
In late February, Tom and I accompanied our Adam to the National Special Olympic Winter Games where he competed as part of Team Ontario in Speed Skating where he won 2 bronze medals. Adam’s Hope was represented at the 100 Men Who Care Quinte meeting by someone who was a member of our charity at the time, and after a brief presentation, we were the fortunate recipients of $11,800.00. We would have preferred if Tom made the presentation at the 100 Men Who Care Quinte meeting but this particular and now former member of Adam’s Hope was over zealous and adamant that we should present in the winter meeting. Anyway, we were chosen and we were happy and very grateful as this money would help get autistic kids to camp, help parents pay for respite and therapy and many other things in the summer which is a hard time for parents, as the kids are home from school and finding activities that they are able to do is difficult and expensive. This donation also freed us from having to put on numerous fundraising events in a summer when we were changing hands in the charity. So this all started off as a really good thing. Because we were away, I am not sure how the news got to the local paper as quickly as it did ( I am not a fan of immediate publicity until things are settled) but I started getting calls from families, putting in their request for assistance. I assured them as soon as the money was received (and I told them to give it at least 3 weeks) I would happily help them out.
Tom began corresponding with the organizer by e mail (as there is no contact phone number) shortly after we heard the good news, thanking the 100 Men Who Care Quinte for their generosity. Knowing families would need to make down payments for summer camps and services etc., Tom asked when Adam’s Hope could expect the money. He was told to give it a week or so and that he (the organizer) was on top of it. March became April and I not only had calls from families but from 100 Men Who Care Quinte members who wrote their cheques to Adam’s Hope and wanted to know why we have not cashed them as yet. We explained that we did not have any cheques in our possession and that we were still waiting. I also had calls from members wondering if I would write them a receipt, again for donations I did not yet have.
Since it was taking a long time to receive the funds and any real information from the 100 Men Who Care Quinte, and we were receiving all these phone calls, we were concerned that something had gone wrong. Tom had sent several e mails that were not responded to by the 100 Men Who Care Quinte. He has also received a couple very terse ones that say “I’m on it!” and suddenly we began to feel like we were badgering them and that we did something wrong, when all I had been doing was fielding calls from people looking for assistance because they saw the article on the news paper. I was fielding calls from people who wanted me to cash cheques I did not have, and people who wanted to know when they would receive a receipt from our organisation. As you can see, we had very little feedback from the 100 Men Who Care Quinte and nothing to offer the families and no answer for donors. We were waiting. And Waiting…and WAITING. Charities don’t function on promised money. The money Adam’s Hope raises is immediately distributed and used to help people with autism because the alternative is endlessly long waiting lists. There was nothing we could do so to stop my phone from ringing, so I posted on Facebook in May (yes we had already drifted into the month of May) that I had not yet received the money from 100 Men Who Care Quinte and as soon as I did I would be able to give people the answers they were seeking.
Soon after the post, one of the organizers finally gets in touch with Tom at 9:30 pm. He calls our house and got into a screaming match with Tom to the point that Adam could pick up on the tension. He started acting out asking “What’s wrong?” and “Why is the man in Dad’s phone yelling?” This man kept going on and on how he told us we were going to get the money soon and was angry because my post made them look bad. Well, Sir, don’t do things to make yourself look bad. He kept yelling “You’ll get your money!” Well, Sir, it’s not our money, it’s money the 100 Men Who Care Quinte was highlighted for in the newspaper that they were donating to Adam’s Hope. Because they could not collect all the cheques in a timely fashion, because they did not have a list of the donors names and addresses so that Adam’s Hope could write receipts, because of their lack of organization, The 100 Men Who Care Quinte is the only entity to be blamed for making themselves look bad. This man would not let Tom get a word in edgewise on the phone and when Tom was able to, he reminded him very firmly that we were the ones trying to communicate with him and he did so extremely politely every time. The organizer said we were badgering them (only after just 3 polite e mails in 2 and a half months and getting no response). So Tom told him if he addressed our concerns with proper communication there would not be a situation where there would be a shouting match over the phone.
Since this gong show of an experience, I have been told by 100 Men Who Care Quinte members that they still don’t have receipts from the first 4 donations they made to other charities who received their assistance. Some members who paid cash also do not have receipts from 4 separate donations. Why is that? (Disorganization…that’s why) Charitable receipts should be given promptly to donors as they can use them for income tax purposes. Some members told me they had to keep making sure they had the funds in their spending account to make sure the cheques they wrote (not just to Adam’s Hope but to other charities) through the 100 Men Who Care Quinte organization, would not bounce. After any fundraiser I have ever had, I deposit cheques within 3 days of receiving them and I issue receipts quickly and any receipts I might have missed I e mail to the donors the day I get the reminder that they are still waiting.
Now I have been told that The 100 Men Who Care Quinte is telling their members that because we were re-structuring a new committee, we caused the delay for the receipt of funds. That, I assure you is not true! The new Adam’s Hope Committee member was called by the organizers of the 100 Men Who Care Quinte on the day she was at the bank assuming control of the charity’s finances. She told him she was not able to take the cheques from him that day but would within the the next few days (we planned earlier in the year to transfer the account control in early June). Considering we’d been waiting since March, a few days really made no difference at this point. The organizer also told her that they had not received all the cheques and the was still short about $1000.00. Incredible, isn’t it? After all that time, they did not have all the cheques?
So to be very clear. Control of the account regarding the old and new committee for Adam’s Hope happened in early June as planned. The account was always open and able to receive donations as it had always been since 2007 so it posed no involvement in the delay of the receipt of funds. The 100 Men Who Care Quinte had from the month March to gather the cheques, give them to our charity, along with a list of names and addresses so that Adam’s Hope could issue receipts, at which time the cheques would have been deposited. It would have been nice to get the cheques in a timely fashion, so that families would have been able to secure their spots for their kids in the out of town overnight special needs camps, but even if we couldn’t and they communicated to us that they were having problems collecting the cheques I would have been able to communicate that to the people who were phoning me and our charity would have made arrangements to raise the money needed for security deposits for camp. Communication was VERY POOR.
In closing I would like the very rude organizing member of the 100 Men Who Care Quinte to know this – While I thank your organization for the kind gesture, I will not tolerate your rudeness quietly. You did not gather the cheques in an efficient manner. You did not communicate well with us (we have all the e mails to prove it). You did not give us a list of donors and their addresses so that at least we could mail their receipts. You had no right to call my home and get into a shouting match with my husband when you were the one who was disorganized and wrong. Sir, you actually were raising your voice and arguing with a charity… a charity you raised funds for. You created a tension in my household with your phone call that put my autistic son out of sorts. You had no right to be disrespectful to us. Why should I field all the upset calls you generated by your disorganization? I had no choice but to let people know I did not have anything from your organization and until I did, I could not help them. You Sir, made the 100 Men Who Care Quinte look bad by your disorganization. Perhaps your chapter needs to look to the 100 Men Who Care Kingston, who delivered a cheque to a charity they raised money for last December within 3 weeks of the event. Look to your female counterparts the 100 Women Who Care Quinte to see how efficient they are. Adam’s Hope is not ungrateful for the generosity but we did not ask to be chosen and we certainly did not have anything to do with your inability to organize things efficiently. Do not blame your shortcomings on our charity which has helped this community for almost 10 years with the simplest of fundraisers put on by parents and family and friends of autistic persons. This has nothing to do with our restructuring and EVERYTHING to do with your chapter being well intended and trying to do good in the community without having the organizational skills to pull it off. When organizations get popular and grow suddenly as yours has, being efficient is imperative. Looking good for doing good, is always a popular attraction but the true do-gooders do it right by being organized and efficient and apologetic when things do not go as planned. While the money will not be able to help our campers this year, we still will use it all to assist families affected by autism in our community in many other ways. Unfortunately what started out as a warm feeling in our hearts has turned into disappointment. I want you, the very rude organizing member of the 100 Men Who Care Quinte to apologize to my husband for your discourteous phone call and poor communication skills. I hope you step down from the organizing committee of 100 Men Who Care Quinte before you ruin it . You are certainly in the wrong role. No one speaks to my family like that and gets away with it. I will never go quietly when insulted and as much as this money will help others who really need it, I sometimes wish we never chosen as recipients. Do not try to tarnish the good name of the charity we founded and named in honour of our son. Adam’s Hope may be a small charitable organization but it has done and will continue to do good work in this community. I suggest your organization re-group and get organized so that you can do the same. All you had to do was tell us you were having a delay in collecting all the cheques and we would have been able to give people answers. All you had to do was communicate with us and this would have not become unpleasant.
This is my blog. This is where I state my opinion and where I get to state clearly what I know happened.