Charity & accountability

| 26/09/2013

I was affected by the article on ‘Meals on Wheels’ (MOW), and agree wholeheartedly that this program cannot be allowed to fail, and so I set about to learn a lot more as to how MOW now find themselves in this position, having been heavily sponsored and supported in the past by Rotary and many individual Rotarians, some of whom I understand still provide support by donations and delivering meals.

I do feel very strongly that we MUST look after our elderly and infirm and MOW should not fail due to lackof funding.  BUT, I would suggest the following,

  • There must be stringent criteria in order to enter the program (e.g MOW absolutely cannot deliver food to a home with a resident who owns a late model luxury car, for example).  This criteria must be transparent (i.e. a document that is readily available to the public) so that those wishing to provide support can see how these decisions are made and so that those wishing to be supported can discover if they ‘fit the bill’.
  • MOW must be able to provide accounts – these accounts must include absolutely every donation received, both in terms of money and direct gifts of packaged food, and be accounted for down to the penny. They  must include absolutely every outgoing including of course details of any ‘salaried volunteers’.
  • The provision of MOW meals should go out to tender – I understand from the article that each meal costs CI$4 however also understand that some of the people providing meals to the schools are providing meals for CI$3 each – this is an enormous saving when you consider just $1 shaved off each meal amounts to just over CI$40,000 each year.

This concept is not intended to point a finger at the current management of MOW alone, because despite the above suggestions which are specific to  the current  MOW situation, I think that some of this ‘common sense’ approach applies to all of our charities here in Cayman – without exception. After all, If they require the support of the public, they ought to be open, honest and transparent.

I think that some trust has been lost lately. However, this trust can be (re)gained and the charities must be prepared to put egos and politics aside for the greater good.  Being asked to provide accounts is not querying the integrity of the individual who is running the charity but instead ensuring that the integrity of these individuals and organizations is above question – unfortunately in this day and age the anomaly is that you do have to answer questions, sometimes before they have even been asked, in order to keep yourself ‘above question’!

We must still support those in need – we are a small Island with an awful lot of need – there are many people willing and able to provide for this need but the charities MUST do everything they can to provide as much comfort as they can to those willing to support them.  

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  1. Messenjah says:

    Very well written Annie. Thank you. Your commentary started with a question,  can you please say what you found out regarding the Rotarian position on this. It is not easy for a service club to drop such an important project, so obviously something happened. 

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I would just like to correct your remark and explain the position of Rotary as regards  Meals on Wheels and its policies as regarding charitable projects.. The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, the club which I can speak for, and that initiated this programme felt that it was timeto move on and let it be independently run by new management .This is not unusual for Rotary. Rotary take on projects and at suitable times hands them over in order that they can focus on new projects. Over the past thirty years of more The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman started and handed over at the proper time such projects as Bonaventure House, The Francis Bodden Girls Home and Batanaboo. The club and its sister clubs continue to support these organizations and many others on the island which are frequently the subject of press articles.. Moreover Rotarians are provided with accounts that clearly show the income of the club and the donations made to charity. We certainly wish the Meals on Wheels programme every success and hope their fund raising programme suceeds.

    • Alan Roffey says:

      As a Past President of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman in the Rotary year 1999-2000 I am well placed to answer your question. One of Rotary's roles in a community is to identify a need, commence a project, and then hand it off to a new organization that can run with it in the long term. Thus we leave each new President the opportunity to be innovative in the community and to start new initiatives each year, rather than get bogged down with legacy projects.Rotary's involvement with MOW commence in Rotary Year 1997-1998 and was solidified in the following year. Then, in my year as President, we created a limited liability company called Rotary Meals-On-Wheels Limited. The company's Memorandum of Association provided for the make up of an independent volunteer Board of Directors, only two of which were expected to be Rotarians. We did the same thing with the Bonaventure Boys Home, the Francis Bodden Girls Home and Batabano, to name a few.Therefore it's not true to say or imply that Rotary only recently decided to "drop" the project. In fact, the club handed it off over a decade ago. (ps.Sorry about the lack of paragraphs, I can't seem to get the return key to work in this text box.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with the letter.  We have given and supported and had stopped, doing our own personal donations to individuals instead as you cannot offer guidance to the organisers and distributors of MOW as they see it as either wanting to take over or telling them what to do.  Transparency and good management even if its a charitable organisation is extremely important for all concerned.



  3. Anonymous says:

    Therein lies the problem. Many who have been involved in MOW have struggled with the strong personality that runs MOW now.  It makes it impossible to aid in guiding it or managing it. The reason there is no more money is exactly as outlined in this letter, there is now a distrust.  Those that had been willing to aid in managing it have long left, so the outcome is no surprise. Sad really as we all want the same thing, to care for our vulnerable and poor. 

  4. Buffalo Bill says:

    My Dear Annie,

    Your article is straightforward and to the point.  I'm getting along in years now and may need MOW myself one day.  In the past I have helped deliver meals on wheels (as a volunteer) and I suppose there has always been people who take advantage of any situation they can.  Then, as it is now, the people delivering the food do notdetermine who gets the food and who doesn't.  I hope everyone in a supervisory position with MOW reads your article. The most difficult part for some will be putting egos and politics aside!

    Your friend,                                                                                                                                          Bill                                                                                                                

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well said, Annie. Unfortunately there are a good number of us who have been very uneasy for a long time about how this program is "managed" and the marl road suspicions about the use of funds. In today's world it is not enough to say "oh we are doing good". Transparency, especially of funds received and funds disbursed is vital.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just for clarity, whilst Rotary Cayman has been a disappointment to me of late, i do think it is important that we clarify that the references here are NOT to Rotary or in this case its members (who have long been associated with MOW).  The current management of MOW is without Rotary participation and no longer falls under Rotary.  Ms McField makes no reference whatsoever to Rotary inspite of its very active role in setting up MOW (in fact MOW was the Rotary name for the programme and the McFields were approached to work with Rotary as they had also been doing a programme through the church).  Rotary funded and equiped the Teacher McField building with proper kitchen equipment (also a Rotary building) and paid for the food and delivered the food for many, many years.  The expansion into other districts was done by Rotary starting with the Bonaventure boys home in WB aslo equiped by Rotary with a new kitchen and also a Rotary building.  I believe one should give to Caesar what due to Caesar.  Sadly, Rotary is no longer manningthe ship and even attempts for other suitable professionals to aid MOW with its management has been stymied.  The outcome of no funds left and a call for funding is really no surprise. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree. It is always just a few who wreck it for everyone else. Whilst there are a lot of people who are involved with charities because they really have the passion for them and do believe in them, there are equally as many who just associate themselves with charities to make their resumes look good and have the necessary points when it comes to PR and Status applications. Then there are some who get kind of a power trip out of it by deciding who the beneficiaries of the charities will be.

      Personally, I have to be really convinced that a charity is well run, which includes accounts being available and frequent updating of the general public what the charity has achieved. There also has to be a transparent process how the beneficiaries will be selected etc. Sadly, a lot of the charities on this Island don't fit that criteria anymore.