I served as board chairman of the local Red Cross chapter for nine years. When a fire occurred, we arrived within an hour of notification to provide needed food, clothing and shelter.
We went to Lexington weekly to obtain donated household items, which are now obtained by Harvesting Hope and are available to disaster victims.
Disaster relief was solely our responsibility; the Salvation Army did not have to house fire victims, which evidently has happened on at least four occasions in a seven-month period.
We felt this level of service needed to continue until Red Cross in Lexington could engage. I was one of the 12 people who paid $850 to form Helping Hands for that purpose and one of the 16 original board members, six of whom remain.
Soon after Helping Hands’ founding, it was apparent Arnold Marshall and other board members had little interest in the original purpose; within six weeks they began talking about using the organization to establish a free medical clinic in the old Presbyterian Church building on the corner of Third Street and Broadway. We had moved — on a temporary basis — approximately $65,000 worth of the in-kind household items that Red Cross donated to Helping Hands into the church building.
Temporary soon became permanent.
Marshall seemed determined to keep the materials in that building — now the Independent Methodist Church — where he went to church. The building was in need of many repairs. Helping Hands was spending some of its money to paint and make other repairs to the building.
Jeanette Germann made a motion to vacate the church and move those materials to a storage facility, where repairs were not necessary, at half of the $250 a month being paid for the church facilities. That motion was seconded, but Marshall would not allow a board vote.
That was the last straw. We walked out.
Marshall now claims they act as a “liaison between the time something happens and the time that Red Cross can provide assistance.” He also claims they are not first responders. That is contradictory.
I wonder how much of the $15,000 they claim to have distributed last year was in form of the donated materials we moved, and especially how the $6,175 in government funding the agency received was expended for relief to disaster victims, the purpose for which it was requested.