Why numbers matter…Part 1, private money

One of the questions we often get asked here at the MTM blog is “why is there such an emphasis by PCRM management and board of directors to expand the number of people whom they service way past what are community norms?” The simple answer is “money”. From an outsiders perspective, it would make sense to create local fundraising that generates revenues from our community that then serves the local needy. But to those who are unfamiliar with the workings of many non-profits and organizations that offer charitable services, it is an important foundation to understand that fundraising is big business with literally billions of dollars each year being shuffled around to the most high profile organizations that can establish the most “need”.  Below is a screen shot from the website of Foster Associates who operate “Capital for Compassion”. (http://www.capitalforcompassion.com)

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Foster and Associates are just one one multiple companies that have found financial opportunities to collect commissions by offering technical advice to non-profits. This advice is in the form of helping individual organizations create a higher perception of “need” therefore establishing themselves to be more relevant and deserving of grant dollars. This company alone during the year of 2010 bragged of participating in over $62,000,000.00 in awarded grants. From their own website under the “services” tab: (http://www.capitalforcompassion.com/services/)

Fund Sourcing: Unlike many other companies, we are not fundraisers. We do not make pitches to multiple sources, or appeals to individuals. Instead, we work with a select group of private financial institutions that grant forgivable loans. Because Foster Development has earned the trust of a select group of financial institutions that have designated resources for compassion, we are able to bring our clients’ needs directly to those who can fund them.

Proposal Creation: Because we represent private money, managed by professional financial institutions, it is essential that the proposal be strong and clear. We articulate our clients’ narrative, needs, and financial information into the appropriate format that the funding sources require to determine whether the proposal is a worthwhile investment of their resources.

Fully Managed Funding Source: Foster Development not only prepares the proposal, but continues to administrate the grant beyond funding. This  includes construction reporting, disbursement of funds, project completion reporting, completion auditing, and developing a template for annual reporting.

Funder Relationship: Six figure grants require three things: 1) a good story to to tell, 2) telling it well, and 3) a receptive audience. For years, Foster Development has established and actively maintained positive relationships with the personnel at each of its funding sources. We understand how they think, and what they find compelling when evaluating proposals.

Expertise: The proposal process entails an exhaustive financial analysis, and is unlike any other grant process, with a steep learning curve and cryptic terminology. The single most important difference between organizations that get funded from those that do not is a compelling (and truthful) narrative, told in the funder’s language. It takes skill and experience to craft this type of story.  For example, the first grant that Foster Development obtained was for $482,000, but later we learned that we could have gotten $702,000 for that project if our proposal had been a bit stronger. Since then, we have obtained over $93 million from our sources for our clients. Along the way, our team has developed the ability to maximize awards and net more dollars to a project (even after our fees), than clients would if they pursued funds on their own.

Organizational Analysis: Since our funders are financial institutions, they look at grant proposal with the same scrutiny that they would evaluate a loan application. Oftentimes, improvements in leadership systems, financial controls, and board management are a prerequisite to tendering a proposal.

So the question becomes, “where does all this money come from?”. The Federal Home loans bank system (http://www.fhlbanks.com/) was created by congress in 1932 as a “government-sponsered” bank system that provide stable, on-demand, low-cost funding to American financial institutions (not individuals) for home Mortgage loans, small business, rural, agricultural, and economic development lending. With their members, the FHLBanks represents the largest collective source of home mortgage and community credit in the United Sates. As part of of the congressional charter, the system contributes 10% of their net income to affordable housing through the “Affordable housing program” (AHP). This competitive grant program is the largest source of private sector grants for housing and community development. Since 1990, the system has distributed over 4.83 billion ($4,300,000,000.00)

The dollars awarded each year are significant and the  challenge for organizations around the country is to somehow rise to the top of the list in a way that makes them most eligible. One key way of doing this is creating an dynamic where there are artificially larger numbers. When a nationally known expert comes to Panama City and professes that we as a community have a homeless problem that is “ten fold” what it should be by population, the mindset of those running the mission is that this is a good thing. Significant numbers with multiple outlets and programs, implies a “need” making the ability to tap into large grants that much easier. This is also the same reason why the PCRM management have been so reluctant to participate with other local organizations with the development of the Bay Area Resource center. Having outside involvement from other organizations dilutes the pot of money. The fact that other agencies and organizations have unique skill sets and resources that when working in conjunction together would give an enhanced program for our communities needy becomes secondary to the discussion .

Larger and larger numbers allows the PCRM to tap into larger revenue sources which supports bloated payrolls.

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What is really happening behind closed doors at the mission…

Our blog was created almost two years ago to give voice to the issues of the PCRM and its effect on our downtown community. Those of us who live and work downtown take pride in our city and the potential it has as a wonderful place to raise our children, dine, shop and grow small businesses. We as local citizens realize the need to help others and take personal responsibility for helping out those less fortunate in our community but feel that there are ways to do that that are both uplifting to those in need while respectful of the community at large. When addressing the needs of the homeless a quick snapshot of the messages being issued by the Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries would, on the surface without much additional research, leave one with the impression that the  PCRM was a viable and well respect organization with a well planned strategy to service the needs of the community. Those of us who post on our blog each fell for this story until we started doing the research and looking at all the facts. Much of this data has been compiled into our over 160 online post. Over the past two years we have received literally thousands of email (movethemission@yahoo.com) some being very critical of our efforts, some being very supportive of the PCRM. We have received personal stories of the ill effects that the PCRM has had on our neighbors. We often receive tips about specific pieces of information that we should do more research on the paint a more accurate picture of what the rescue mission is doing. Traditionally this information is taken, more research done, data verified and then formed into a post. Today we received an email from a reader that was so compelling that we felt it was appropriate to post it in its entirety. This is from a former employee of the PCRM:

Dear Readers,
I am a former employee of PCRM and was terminated last week for speaking out against bad leadership, personal agenda’s, political infighting, and abuses done to students in the name of a recovery program and Godly ministry.On Friday, October 25th I was called into Mr Chambers office and questioned about disclosing to a former employee that her friend and current employee, ********, was the subject of formal complaints, by licensed clinical social workers, employed by the Federal Government. These complaints are about Mr. ***** lack of professional conduct, lack of education, lack of training and experience to do the work that he is doing. Mr. ***** is currently a case manager for the support center, work program and transitional programs. One of the social workers, whom I have worked with for years, came to my office two weeks ago and stated that “when I come to the mission to see a client, I try to avoid him; he has no skills, does not know about community resources or how to access them and has no professional education.” Her associate, whom I have also worked with, quite successfully, admonished me to get away from the mission before it (the mission) messed up my reputation as a legitimate professional and hurt my chances at licensure. I had to agree with the logic of that statement and have been seeking employment elsewhere. Part of the problem is that no-one, with the exception of Cathy Byrd, Kathleen Duval, and myself have any graduate education, formal degrees in these fields, or any clinical training. The case managers (with the exception of me) have all been former students with a couple of years clean and no education or training. Consequently everyone of them have relapsed on drugs and alcohol. The lasts was my co-worker who disappeared from work in August for three days to go smoke crack. He had to be drug tested, by myself when he returned, and he tested positive for cocaine. He was subsequently terminated. This is who is providing recovery service for the students in the program. This is also another reason that I was terminated, for speaking out against staff members with no training, no education, and no abilities being allowed to make case management decisions that were very bad for the students. The most recent debacle was when Ken Owens, the financial officer, approved a two week pass for a client and did not even consult me, the students case manager. He sent me an email notifying me that it had been done. This is part of the constant power struggle mentality that permeates the mission. I voiced my objection to mr chambers and he simply placated me with the statement, “we’ll get this going in the right direction soon.” He did agree that it was a “bad decision”. This objection was the beginning of my demise at the mission. The final straw was my complaints about ******* conduct and my complaints about working students 7 days a week, often more, with no days off, not having reputable teachers for classes, not having consistent recovery related structure. Make no mistake, the “recovery program” is really nothing more than a work program with a few chapel services and “classes” thrown in. None of the staff currently at the mission, now that I am gone have any formal addiction recovery education or training. Ken Owens, the man writing the checks has been an alcoholic until completing the program 3 years ago. He at least holds an MD, but lost his practice due to his alcohol use. Finally, make no mistake, mr chambers is a business shark who sole intention is to return the mission’s multi-million dollar budget to it’s past status. He is not in any way trained in addiction or spiritual recovery. His experience that he lauds so loudly has been purely business related.Finally, the mission states that it serves how many? There are currently 26 men students who eat 3 times a day and perhaps that many outside guests who are allowed to eat dinner meal. The mission currently only houses 10 overnight male guests (sleeping on floor in dining room with blankets, no mats) due to recent fire regulations. They serve no where near the meals or other services that they state. Each and every day the men students assigned go around to local Publix and other stores and gather pastries and bread items and bring them back to the mission. EVERY SINGLE DAY THE SAME STUDENTS ARE ASKED TO LOAD THE DUMPSTER WITH GARBAGE BAGS THAT ARE FULL OF BREAD ITEMS THAT HAVE GOTTON OLD. They can’t even use what they collect. They also have 3 separate storage pods on the campus full of canned food and other dry goods that are moldering and they keep collecting more. In addition to taking $200.00 in food stamps (current allotment for homeless persons) from EVERY student in the program, what more do they need?I could no longer stomach the deplorable activities or the abuses of the men students or the deceptions be perpetrated on the community and the local churches who believe they are supporting a reputable cause. It stopped being that prior to 2001 when chambers was removed the first time.

 

  1. Ron Aleen

    /  November 8, 2013  /  Edit

    Recue Mission Support Gay Couples
    As a former employee of the Rescue Mission what I am writing about is first hand. The subjects mention in the above letter M___ ______and Ken Owens have an on going relationship. The couple eat together, live together, vacation together and who knows what else together.
    Ken Owens is no stranger to special relationship with former students, or x students who didn’t finish the program. One student was asked to live the program when he complained about where Ken placed his hand. The student left the program and a bus ticket purchased for him.
    Former graduate of the program had an on and off relationship with Ken Owens. Ken crossed the line as a staff member by an on going in home relationship with this guy.The end result, The guy, help his self to the rent money, a car that Ken had, (which the Mission provided). The drama continued, The guy, is now a father from his raping a fourteen year old girl.(He’s thirty something) Ken is still fixed on this guy, that the child’s picture is his screen saver. What happen to the guy? In a prison in another state All this, in 14 months.
    Ken Owens is now not only in charge of the financials of the mission, but is in charge of the male students of the mission.
    Mr. Chambers needs to get his head out of the closet. Open his eyes and start asking questions. Look at who is still at the mission and should be gone. Who he has gave a lot power too! The preaching will be about Adam and Steve in the chapel, Churches and Donors Beware ask guestions before you write that check.

  2. D. Williams

    /  November 25, 2013  /  Edit

    Dear Readers,
    At the end of October my wife purchased a gas dryer from the Mission thrift store on east 11th St.. It was a (as is sale). I installed the dryer, it worked. A while later we had a strong gas Oder in the house, I shut the gas to the dryer off and checked the connections, and my installation of the dryer. The next day I had someone check the dryer out and I was told the dryer should of never been sold to us.
    My wife went in twice, and she go told by the man that sold the dryer to her, that it was sold as is. I then went into the store and was told by the man working the day I went in that they did not sale any type of gas appliances, one reason was given was that they have no way of checking them out.
    I e-mail Rev. Chambers, and got no response from him. Instead I got an e-mail from a guy name Bill, who in return referred me to another guy name Rick. I Found out that Rick is the one to informed me that they do not sell gas appliances. I have done business with Rick in the past, so I called him and set a time. I canceled the appointment from advise, to seek an Attorney’s advise.
    My wife and I have gone in, as my Attorney has, to check and see if any other gas appliance are for sell. Today my wife was in there around 1 pm, (11/25) and the man that sold her the dryer was at the register. He was in the register, took money out and put it in his wallet. My wife approached him and asked him if that what he did with the money from the sale of the dryer, He looked right at her and smiled and stated he had know idea what she was talking about. She was basically called a liar. if you post this or not, I at least got this off my chest. Thank you for that.
    David Williams

  3. Vincent

    /  January 11, 2014  /  Edit

    Dear Readers, please take heart that your voices are being heard. I met recently with a group of people who have been in discussion over some of these events, and others that have come to light, since Mr. Chambers took the helm at the mission. Some of the people, who must remain nameless at this time, include local clergy, lawmakers, law enforcement, and business owners. There are deeper scandals brewing at the mission and there will be, within the next few months, more revelations coming forth about the activities of the above named individuals and more. During my tenure as case manager at the mission, I was able to develop some relationships with individuals who are still willing and able to provide me with updates about what is happening behind closed doors at the mission. As a Christian I can assure you that what is done in secret will come to light, and when you perpetrate the kind of behaviors that are currently going on at the mission, under the guise of a Christian ministry, it will be revealed.

    Ken Owens and Mike Adams do indeed live together and it is true that Ken is alleged to have been engaging in questionable activities with the male students for some time. One of the mission provided vehicles in Ken’s possession was apparently stolen by a former student that Ken allegedly had dealings with and Ken’s email at the mission is also in the name of a former student. I questioned this email discrepancy prior to leaving the mission when I discovered that the header on Ken’s internal emails showed up as a students name, instead of Ken Owens. I asked Ken if I had the right email and he explained that it was a former students name who he was “close” to. I began saving all documentation from that day on as it was obvious to me that there were some very questionable relationships being sought by Mr. Owens.

    As far as Rick Reynolds at the Production center and the sale of donations, he has been directed by the former and current administration to sell, sell, sell. They are not concerned with anything other than generating revenue, regardless of how they do it; particularly any ethical restraints that should be in place in an organization that uses Christian ministry as a front. The gentleman who is reported to have been taking money from the till at the production center is most likely a student who has graduated to the level of intern, not a mission employee. There has long been speculation about the theft of funds from the production center but nothing has ever been pursued. The reason being that this is tantamount to stealing from the donors who have given the items to the mission and the publicity over such a scandal is more than the powers that be are willing to endure. Another in a long list of dollars and cents motivations from an organization that is supposed to serve the least, the last, and the lost.

Rescue Mission operation one half million dollars in debt

WJHG news coverage article:

Most charities struggle with finances but the new Executive Director of the Panama City Rescue Mission says things are really tough. As anyone that follows this blog, the reasons for the “tough finances” are very clear. After years and years of mismanagement on the part of Fox and the board of directors and the continued ignoring of the complaints of how operations were being handled, the donating community has taken things in their own hands and made the checks for their charitable dollars to other organizations that operate in an honest and forthright fashion.

Donations dropped off significantly after the Mission Board parted ways with former billy fox last month, and now the organization is now half a million dollarsin debt. More accurately is that the donations were significantly down before Fox terminated playing a major role in his dismissal.

Thurman Chambers has been on the job just 3 weeks, but he’s already facing what he calls the biggest challenge of his career.

When he took over the Panama City Rescue Mission, he also inherited a mountain debt. Debt is just one of multiple problems he has inherited. Unfortunately for Mr. chambers a former director and former president of the board ransacked the organization in a way that quite frankly will be a significant challenge  to overcome in order for it to survive. Mr. Chambers may be well served to offer an olive branch to other organizations who were participants in the planning of the bay area resource center and find ways for the PCRM to stay relevant as a provider of services to our community.

Panama City Rescue Mission Executive Director Thurman Chambers elaborates, saying, “[I] never followed one that, you know, there was a problem or happening within the organization so it’s taken a little adjustment.”

The Rescue Mission serves about 150 homeless people during the average summer day.

But it’s about to get busier.

The numbers increase in the winter to 200 a day.

Chambers is worried about handling that increase, when the Mission is about half a million dollars in debt.

“We’re behind in some of our payments, and our accounts payable, that sort of thing. That’s going to help us get caught up so to speak. We’re in the negatives right now so we gotta get the ship right.”

Chambers is still trying to figure out why donations are down. Mr. Chambers seems to be an intelligent individual and I am quite sure he is aware of the cause. It is the elephant in the room that local media is scared to death to discuss.

He isn’t sure if it’s because of the change of leadership, or the on going debate over the Mission’s plans to expand Bethel Village for women and children. Or the more obvious answer that our community has just tired of how the mission has run their operation, ignored the pleas to lower their profile on our downtown community and the always present confrontational tone that the previous director and president board took would talking of the mission and where they fit into the community. These individuals spoke as though THEY owned the mission and its assets when in fact the donating community owns the rescue mission. Note where both of those individuals are now, nowhere to be seen but leaving a legacy of problems for someone else to clean up. This is what happens when an organization loses its way. This is what happens when individuals become greedy and begin to take actions outside the principles by which the organization was founded. 

“You know for the last two years, it’s been really, really slow for them.”

Whatever the reason, Chambers is asking for help.

He sent a letter to local churches and media soliciting more donations from residents during the holiday season.

The organization historically receives most of its donations during the last 3 months of the year.

Apparently the request is working.

Chambers says he’s already received calls from local Pastors, wanting to help

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Panama-City-Rescue-Mission-Asking-for-Help-229313561.html

Turmoil still imbedded at the PCRM

Recent days have seen the termination of Billy Fox as Director of the PCRM (currently operating as “Pathways Christian Recovery Mission” but soon back to the banner of “Panama City Rescue Mission” according to sources). With this change at the helm of day to day operations, the opportunity is there for the organization to return to being an organization that truly provides needed services for those in our community who need help but do so in a way that compliments our city, is respectful of our donation dollars and operates as good community neighbors. Although Mr. Fox was a key component in the direction and actions taken by the PCRM, keep in mind an organization that operates with multi-million dollar budgets and a less than transparent way regarding finances, there is often the opportunity for other encampments of deceit to take hold, leveraging assets and using funds to finance pet projects outside the main focus and direction of the organizations charter and so is the case with the PCRM. Mr. Thurman Chambers has taken the position of Director of the PCRM as of the first part of October but his arrival did not come without some soul searching on his part as to his ability to be effective in his leading role at the PCRM.

thurman chambers

THURMAN CHAMBERS

During a meeting on October 11th Mr. Chambers expressed great hesitation on his part to again participate with the PCRM as his “hands were being handcuffed by the board of directors” and specifically Rev Henry Hazard. Rev. Hazard as the president of the board of directors of the PCRM was the one who terminated Billy Fox due in large part to his inability to maintain and increase donation dollars into the organization. With revenues drastically down as our community has been able to see the PCRM more clearly and the problems associated with it, Billy Fox became a liability and unable to justify his and his wife’s salaries.

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Rev. Henry Hazard

It would seem there has been several power struggles within the walls of the PCRM upon Billy Fox’s removal. Hazard as previously noted was instrumental in Fox’s removal but Hazard himself offered his resignation to the board on October 21st. One can speculate that either Mr Chambers has uncovered enough information that puts further blemishes on the organization or other more responsible board members have come to their senses and have seen Rev. Hazard himself as a further handicap to the organization and have seized the reins to bring the organization back into being a respectable organization.

byrd

Rev. Cathy Byrd

But the power struggles are not limited to board members and director, key operational employees too have been hustling for position. The PCRM offers a variety of different programs in attempts to service different needs. Rev. Cathy Byrd who heads the womens programs has taken a confrontational and aggressive position against Rev. Joe Atkinson who heads the men’s programs. Apparently she has been successful in her efforts to remove him as he is no longer listed on the PCRM website directory.  In this official “Pathways Recovery Ministries” video notice the one thing missing almost completely from this video.  This the exception of just a few quick snippets there are no mentions of the Men’s program activities. This is quite by design.

https://vimeo.com/76039928

joe

Rev. Joe Atkinson

On Wed. October 2 the Mission held it’s monthly graduation ceremony at 609 Allen location. Noticibly absent from this graduation, unlike any previous awards programs, was any women from the Bethel program and none of the woman staff with the exception of Cathy Byrd, who consequently came to run the show because she saw yet another opportunity to publicly emasculate Reverend Atkinson who usually officiates at graduation. When one of the men students who was graduating asked why the women were not in attendance, Rev Cathy Byrd said that they were unable to attend due to having to work to get the new Bethel location up and running. As it turns out they were not in fact working to get the new location running, Cathy Byrd had held a private, separate graduation ceremony on September 25, 2013 at New Bethel for the women graduates (this has never been done before). No men were invited or even told about this change. In fact they were lied to. This is  tactic used by Cathy Byrd to separate her ministry from the rest of Pathways and exercise her need for control.

But past the basic issues of “power” is the one that “power=money”. The PCRM operates with hundreds of thousands of dollars each year with little to no public disclosure as to how funds are being used.  Within days of Mr. Fox’s removal due in large part to his inability  to maintain revenues and the organization reaching a  point of financial crisis, the PCRM conducted a book signing by author River Jordan coordinated by the director of development. This event was put together as warm and fuzzy feel good event but used PCRM donation dollars to pay for expenses. Here is the email offered by the director after the event:

Dear All,
Wow, what a day! The Lord is SO good. Good to us all!
It was a day filled with excitement and newness and togetherness and cooperation and messages and truth and love!
River Jordan was extraordinary! She was so refreshing! She made me laugh! Yet her message was so simple, so real. We are blessed to have her as our friend. She loves people, God, and our little mission with it’s big heart!

I want to thank everyone. I mean everyone for having a hand in this fun and hopefully financially successful event.
Pastor hazard and all the BODs, thank you for your support especially over the last few weeks. Sometimes we overlook the difficult decisions you have to make for the best of all concerned. Especially thanks to Henry, Michelle, and Cathy for attending. It meant a lot to us.
Taylor, Regina, and Sabrina, thank you for all that you do daily but thank you for so much help you give me. You help me perform my job better and I am proud to work with you.
Cathy and Bill, thank you for accomplishing all that you do without hesitation. The video was wonderful! I know it was time consuming and last minute. Cathy, thank you for your part today in delivering the needed information to our guests. It was eloquent and direct. Thank you also for moving around schedules for the ladies so that many students and staff could attend. I hope they enjoyed being there as much as I enjoyed them being there! Please relay to all of them my thanks for lending a hand and smile!
*Ken, thank you to you, Chris and Beth for juggling funds to pay for this event. Although it may not show immediate results, I pray this type of event still proves to be worthwhile as it provides valuable first hand understanding to so many. Thank you also to you and Rick and Mike for helping provide the men students and staff. I, again, was pleased they could be apart of these very special occasions! Please tell them all many thanks.
Michael Sexton, thank you for your calming, take control attitude in getting things done. I appreciate you. Brother Joe, you were missed but I have a book for you!
My apologies to the many of us that went without lunch! We had an unexpected number of at the door guests. I will make it up somehow!!!!! Just one question to those who did eat…was the soup good? Sure hated missing that!!!! :o)
Thank you to all that weren’t there as they were holding down the fort!! If I missed thanking someone it is not intentional. Just tired!!! And if so, I am sure it will hit me in the middle of the night!!!

All in all, a good day! See you in the morning and get some rest. Good night and I am praying for you!!!

Did you catch the reference and thanks to Mr. Ken Owens? ” Thanks for juggling funds to pay for this event”? Seriously, this is how your donation dollars are being spent. They are being “juggled” to serve the personal agendas of employees  of a charitable organization who don’t have to answer to anyone. The PCRM is one half million dollars in debt with past due payments to vendors that provide resources to service those in need while moneys are being juggled around to pay for an authors appearance at a luncheon event. This is continuation of the mindset that has found the mission where they are today, apparently out of money and out of favor with the community who they ask donation dollars from.

ken

Ken Owens, Finance & Operations

Which takes us to Mr. Owens. The man with the check book. As the PCRM has methodically hidden from our community the facts about where money comes from  (yes, they used tax payer funds through third party sources) to how those funds are being used, it is often hard to pin point indiscretions.  Information from a variety of sources have left impressions that finances are as not being handled as respectful as they should be.  We here at MTM have committed to be as forthright and accurate in our reporting, not posting information that is not verified but we will go on record as saying information is mounting that paint a much less pleasant picture of the financial books  of the PCRM.

Our hopes are that Mr. Chambers has taken his role with the PCRM with a degree of seriousness to address real issues. The PCRM has the ability to be one party in conjunction with other organizations to offer solutions to our community. None of this will happen until top to bottom, board of directors, directors and staff set the appropriate tone and conduct themselves in a way that honors the charitable and giving  nature that our community offers.