Open Ltr: Before killing the Take-It-or-Leave-It, a little reseach into the charity you’ve chosen

April 8, 2014
by Maggie Christ

To Town Board members: 

When I reached for my kitchen sponge this morning to wash out a mug my daughter had once given my husband for Father’s Day, I plucked it out of the blue and white striped bowl that lives next to my sink. Both the bowl and the mug are treasures that we found at the town’s Take It or Leave It Shop – or, as I like to call it, the swap meet at the dump. And over the almost ten years that we’ve lived here, we’ve dropped off and picked up many other things, most memorably a plastic desk for our toddler which we returned to TOILI when she outgrew it.

I’ve just learned that the TIOLI is on the chopping block – that the town plans to close it, and to instead have Big Brothers Big Sisters operate the shed as a drop-off only spot. I think this is wrong, on many counts.

The TIOLI is a charming addition to our town, which is often perceived as materialistic. It is popular among the residents, and it serves to keep materials out of the waste stream. It helps to transfer goods from people who no longer need them, to those who do. Less material goes to landfills or incinerators. It’s a small thing that helps our community in many ways.

The arguments against the TIOLI are specious. First off, it’s always been billed as a volunteer-run shed, so arguing that the DPW workers want it closed is confusing. Besides, if a DPW worker didn’t want to fill potholes because it’s a smelly messy job, would that be countenanced? Of course not – it’s not up to the DPW workers to decide what parts of their job they’d like to do. It’s been said that the same out-of-towners are always picking stuff up – so what? And that volunteers are cherry-picking the good stuff – so what? Further, why would we care if anyone turns around and sells it on eBay? More power to them, I say.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters thing is troubling as well. First, if it’s only a drop-off location, why would anyone use it, given that it’s only open four hours a week? You can drop stuff off at Goodwill in Bedford Hills seven days a week. Second, Big Brothers Big Sisters is the subject of a “donor advisory” by Charity Navigator – because last June

The United States Department of Justice issued an Audit Report that stated it was freezing the disbursement of all grant funds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), noting that the organization was “in material non-compliance with the majority of the grant requirements” that were tested by the audit.  The audit also noted that “as a result of these weaknesses”, the agency “questioned $19,462,448 in funding that the grantee has received and recommended the $3,714,838 in funds not yet disbursed be put to better use”.  The audit further stated that “most significantly”, it “found that BBBSA’s practices for recording and supporting grant-related expenditures were inadequate to safeguard grant funds and ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the grants”.

  ~ from http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5082#.U0Rn2vldXjV

It gives me pause to think that the town would even consider a relationship with BBBS, and I certainly wouldn’t donate anything to BBBS.

I hope that before you casually agree to terminate TIOLI, you will reconsider.

Sincerely,

Maggie Christ

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