12/03/06 — A light dims: Shelter for abuse victims closes until finances can be restored

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A light dims: Shelter for abuse victims closes until finances can be restored

The closing of The Lighthouse of Wayne County — even temporarily — is sad news.

The shelter has been taking care of victims of domestic violence for years — and to lose it now is a blow to those efforts to protect our own when they are at their most vulnerable.

None of us want to think about an adult or a child who has nowhere to turn to escape an abuser because there is no shelter in his or her home county.

But even though the news that the shelter is closed is not easy to hear and many volunteers and supporters might wish it otherwise, the new board of directors for the organization should be commended for doing the right thing.

When a charitable organization has money issues, and there are some questions about records and bookkeeping — even if there is no hint of malfeasance — the members of the board that is charged with its operation have an obligation to step back, look hard and do what is necessary to get the organization back on track.

No matter how worthy the cause, a money issue that is ignored is a disaster waiting to happen — and in this case — the problem also involved federal payroll taxes. Doing anything other than getting the situation in hand quickly would have been nothing short of irresponsible.

And there is more to think about, too.

When someone makes a donation to a cause, it is with the understanding that his or her money will be used responsibly — and in the manner that it was intended. These good Samaritans also assume that the volunteers, directors and others associated with the organization will shepherd its future — making sure the organization not only meets its goals now, but thrives for decades to come.

By stepping in now, and making the hard decision, the board has opened up the possibility that someday soon, there might be a second chance for The Lighthouse — with a new direction, a new budget and a new audit procedure to make sure nothing like this ever threatens the services the shelter offers again.

They have done the right thing when doing nothing would have been easier. And some who have been on the board only a few months, have taken on a task that should have been addressed years earlier.

The Lighthouse board of directors and all those associated with the organization have a responsibility not only to the victims they serve, but the community that has rallied around and supported them for years.

By getting the organization’s finances under control and a new direction in place, they will meet those needs — and maintain the trust of the community that can’t wait to attend the organization’s grand re-opening ceremonies.

And that is how you turn bad news into good news.

Published in Editorials on December 3, 2006 12:06 AM