LSCC Board holds emergency meeting

By C.J. Barbre

While everyone was glued to their TV sets watching election returns on Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Lindsay/Strathmore Coordinating Council was holding an emergency board meeting.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half, despite the fact that only one of the four board members showed up, Board President Cindy Rios. Also present was interim director Sallie McDonald and long time volunteers Diane Hood and Veronica Loya, who together have about two decades of volunteer service at the Coordinating Council.

Not present was Board Vice President Pastor Jack Young, and board members Bill Butler and Esther Sluder. This seemed to speak volumes about one of the biggest problems the Coordinating Council has - lack of a strong board in comparison to previous boards. There are two plaques on the walls of the Coordinating Council's main office naming it "Organization of the Year" by the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce for 1991 and for 2000.

Asked for his opinion, District 1 Supervisor Bill Sanders said in a phone interview that the Coordinating Council was originally founded by the churches. He said what needs to happen is the churches need to be asked to form a new board. "If they did, they might find some good people and get the accreditation they need," he said. Sanders said that United Way was "really interested" in the Coordinating Council staying open, that it considered Lindsay a nucleus, a central distribution point. "They are going to lose funding because they haven't filed papers. They had a very strong board during the freeze. I don't know . . ." Sanders trailed off. He said he would contact the Lindsay Ministerial Association.

Rios said that EFSP (The Emergency Food and Shelter Program) requested an audit to verify where monies the Coordinating Council had received under the previous executive director, Rose Renteria -Rains, had been used, but Rose did not reply and the board was not made aware of the situation. "We were informed by United Way," she said. Rios said several years back, when Terese Sholander was president, Sholander "knew what to do" and gave a lot of time on the board. She said that one of the problems now was that there are only four board members, all of whom have full-time jobs, and she for one, still has children at home and has also been caring for her mother. Rios said in the past they have had as many as eight or nine board members. She has served on and off the board for years.

"Because the audit was not completed when it was supposed to be, that was when Sallie came in and was given this charge, to take care of it, because without EFSP, we're not going to get any funding," Rios said. McDonald said she had completed one part of the audit, but still had more to do. She said Carrie Wells with EFSP in Virginia had been very helpful in telling her what was needed. The Gazette called EFSP in Virginia and spoke with Wells, to find out if the audit was a normal part of doing business, or a special circumstance. She said that information would have to come through the Federal Emergency Management Agency office, that she had forwarded the paperwork and they would be contacting the paper sometime in the future. Renteria-Rains did not return the Gazette's call regarding this issue before press time.

A number of ideas about how to keep the coordinating council open in the interim were discussed at the emergency meeting. Already enacted was cutting hours of operation from five days to two and a half. Effective on Oct. 19, the new hours became Mondays from 1-3 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Also they are not closed for lunch as has been done in the past.

"If we continue staying open I have to volunteer my time," McDonald said. She had the November budget down on paper. Starting off with a little over $2,000 in the checking account, just paying the immediate bills would leave them with $17.07. That included wages for her and the part-time assistant for Oct. 15-31 totaling $457. "I don't see us being open more than two weeks," McDonald said. LSCC's standard operating budget has run at approximately $3,000 per month.

"There has to be an answer," Rios said. "It is incumbent on all of us who have, to give to those in need. She quoted from the Scriptures, "When you feed the least of these, you feed me."

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