GYFHAS
Let's look at this realistically.

Giving to charity? Note from the needy.

Please don't. That, no doubt, seems strange coming from the "needy" but there's good reason for it. Let me explain.

First of all, if you give to charity only for a tax deduction, this is irrelevant; carry on. If, though, you give to charity with a genuine desire to help the "needy", "less fortunate", whatever, please read this article.

There are many worthwhile charities that actually do help and I don't want to discourage anyone from giving to any of them. Unfortunately, there's, also, an "industry" which has developed, comprised of organizations and agencies, claiming to "help" but, in fact, only providing employment opportunities for many, apparently, unable to find positions in sheltered workshops or incapable of handling those positions. These "parasites" are, at best, useless to the "needy". In many cases, though, they're actually worse than useless, making bad situations worse and "siphoning off" funds which could be used to provide real help.

In my experience, CMHA Peel is one such organization. While CMHA Peel accepts direct donations, the majority of their funding is from third parties; United Way of Peel Region being one of those. I'm not aware of all of the organizations and agencies United Way of Peel Region funds and acknowledge that there may be some which actually do help the "needy", "less fortunate", whatever. If you wish to support an organization or agency funded by United Way of Peel Region, since you have no control over what's done with your donation, you may want to consider donating directly to the organization or agency.

Considering the donations to United Way of Peel Region wasted by CMHA Peel and the United Way of Peel Region's, apparent, lack of interest when this is brought to their attention, you'd likely be "helping" the "needy", "less fortunate", whatever as much or even more by dropping off a case of cheap wine near a homeless shelter than donating to the United Way of Peel Region.

My experience with CMHA Peel is, partially, detailed here.

Following is the text of e-mail messages I've sent to Shelley White, CEO of United Way of Peel Region:
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ME to Shelley White 1 March 2014
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Reading Leslie Ferenc's article: "United Way of Peel appeals for donors to cover $600,000.00 campaign shortfall", published in the 6 February, 2014 edition of the Star, was very disheartening due, in large part, to the difficulties I've experienced, attempting to obtain "help", over the past few years. Then, I thought: "hey, I can help them" and felt better.

Unfortunately, the $1,000.00 per month, I receive from CPP, doesn't allow for much in charitable donations; especially, with prescriptions costing several hundred dollars, monthly, but I have a suggestion, which, if taken, would substantially reduce and could completely eliminate your "shortfall". Stop wasting money on agencies, which don't need the funding and/or are of little or no benefit to those they claim to "help".

Trying to survive "on the street", as a "senior" with life threatening medical conditions, during the harshest winter in many years, doesn't allow a great deal of time for research but I noticed United Way Peel gives CMHA Peel more than $300,000.00, annually. Having some experience with CMHA Peel, I can't imagine why and have to wonder if those contributing to United Way Peel are aware of how their contributions are being managed.

Reviewing CMHA Peel's balance sheets, which are available on their web site, for the past several years, it seems that they don't need the money; using any rational definition of "need". They appear to be in, relatively, good financial shape; particularly, for a "non-profit" organization and one accepting what amounts to "charity", at that. This in spite of their, seemingly, "extravagant" spending such as:
- more than $700.00 to move a twin bed, mattress, box spring, kitchen table, two kitchen chairs, toolbox and ten or eleven cardboard boxes of clothing et cetera less than 1.5 kms, over the course of about an hour
- approximately, $2000.00 for three "Dyson" vacuum cleaners, which are used infrequently, to clean less carpeted area than would be found in many homes
- hundreds of dollars for a large; possibly, commercial "Bissell" carpet cleaner, which doesn't appear to have been used
- approximately, $2000.00 for an "LG" stainless steel, large capacity washer and dryer pair, which is used three or four times per week to wash and dry, perhaps, six or eight aprons, six or eight dish towels, six or eight dish cloths and a few mop heads
- I'd guess, $35,000.00 or more on kitchen facilities, which, except for a few meals on special occasions, are used to prepare "soup and sandwich" type lunches; usually, for twenty to thirty people, that CMHA Peel sells for $2.25 each
- approximately, $30,000.00 for a 2007 Toyota Sienna CE van, which is used infrequently; once in the past three weeks, to transport "clients", pick up groceries...that sort of thing and only driven an average of approximately 6,000 kms per year Adding the expenses of fuel, maintenance and insurance makes taxi fares and vehicle rentals seem like real bargains
- hundreds of thousands of dollars on staff, a few obviously dealing with their own mental health issues, who appear to do little more than "keep an eye" on "clients" and "lend an ear", on occasion; many if not most of whom spend the majority of their time chatting with each other, "playing" on computers and attending "staff meetings"; at least one of which, I happened to walk in on, included cake and the singing of "Happy Birthday"
- possibly and an unknown amount on "refreshments" for the mind-boggling number of meetings CMHA Peel holds Having, for three decades, been employed by multi-national corporations and a member of organizations, both having hundreds of thousands of employees/members, I've never seen anything like it. It's possible those attending pay for the refreshments themselves but not, I think, probable

I'm not familiar with all of CMHA Peel's "programs" so it's possible some are not the farces the several I am familiar with are; to put it kindly, of "questionable benefit". For example, during a recent session of "Getting Along With Others", "clients" were advised that if an "aggressive" person were to shove them they, as "assertive" people, ought to tell the "aggressive" person how it made them feel; not good advice in the real world. Some of CMHA Peel's "programs", such as "Home Works" and "Gift of Sight" do benefit some clients but a very few; "poster children", you might say. For the majority, CMHA Peel is a drop-in center where they can sit around, socialize and get a relatively inexpensive lunch, which, I understand, is better than they're likely to have at the group homes many live in. For others, such as myself, CMHA Peel is a place where we have access to a computer, the Internet, phone, fax, shower and a place to lay down, for an hour or two. Of course, if CMHA Peel had provided the help they claimed to, I'd still have all of that at home.

Attached is a file, '1 CMHA Text.doc', of the text from messages I've exchanged, with CMHA Peel staff members, relating to my request for help and the "help" I've received from CMHA Peel. Reviewing the file, it seemed, to me, rather "one sided" and, perhaps, even biased. Wanting to be fair, I've attached another file, '2 CMHA Text.doc', of the all of the answers, explanations, justification and rationale I've received from CMHA Peel staff, which is not included in '1 CMHA Text.doc'.

Recently, I've begun to feel "attacked", by CMHA Peel. I discussed this with my psychiatrist as, concerned that I may be developing paranoia as a result of the sleep deprivation and/or stress. His opinion, based on CMHA Peel's actions and in the absence of rational explanations for those actions, is that my feeling is not unreasonable. Hardly compatible with CMHA Peel's claims of helping those with mental illness or promoting good mental health.
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ME to Shelley White 8 March 2014
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I notice I received no response to my recent suggestion as to how the United Way of Peel could halve their projected shortfall; not that a response was required.

Wednesday evening, a number of people, attending the United Way of Peel meeting at 7700 Hurontario, did a "walk through" of the CMHA facilities. I don't "eavesdrop", partly because I don't hear well having been unable to obtain the hearing aids I've needed for years, partly because doing so is rude and, primarily, because it's so seldom anyone, in the Hogtown area, says anything worthwhile listening to. In any case, I couldn't help but overhear three ladies, in the cafeteria; the one, apparently, pointing out some of the features to the others.

She mentioned "WiFi" and the thought occurred to me that the United Way of Peel may, actually, believe CMHA Peel's propaganda, which would be understandable. I'm cynical by nature, had better opportunity to observe and I believed their claim to "help people with serious and persistent mental illness". To "set the record straight",CMHA does have "WiFi"; however, "members", "clients", "the riff raff"...whatever aren't permitted to use it.

Some of the group appeared to be perusing a poster advertising Thursday's hot dog and hamburger barbecue. "Members", "clients", "the riff raff"...whatever are being charged $1.00 per item. This in contrast to staff "food events", which are, usually, "catered affairs", at which, so far as I know, staff pays nothing for such delicacies as grilled chicken breast, rice pilaf, strawberry tarts. A barbecued hamburger or hot dog for $1.00 is a good deal. If staff want to get to-gether and "pig out" on caviar, that's no one's business but their own...so long as they're not doing so on "company time", "dime" and/or using "company facilities", depriving "members", "clients", "the riff raff"...whatever, in order to do so.

I suspect, though, that staff's getting "the good stuff", paid for by "charitable" and/or "public" funds, while "on the clock", and depriving "members", "clients", "the riff raff"...whatever of facilities and even the hope of service. If this hasn't happened, I owe CMHA Peel a HUGE apology. By copy, to several CMHA Peel staff, I'm asking if CMHA Peel thinks I owe them an apology.

If "charitable" and/or "public" funds are being spent to feed staff, that's bad enough. If "members", "clients", "the riff raff"...whatever are being charged for "sub standard" food, purchased with "charitable" and/or "public" funds, that, in my opinion, is absolutely disgusting.

This, like my previous message, doesn't require a response. It may be helpful for you to know, though, that I've embraced the CMHA's advice: "express yourself". I've created a web site: gyfhas.ga a Twitter account: @GYFHAS and a couple of other things to facilitate expressing myself. Currently, I'm expressing my thoughts on what I see as "social justice" issues; primarily, impediments to achieving "social justice". One of these: diversion or misappropriation of funds intended for the "less fortunate" is the subject of an upcoming article, tentatively, titled: "Charitable Giving. A Note From The Needy." United Way of Peel, obviously, has a role in this; whether as a victim or an accomplice remains to be determined.
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ME to Shelley White 13 March 2014
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I've been forced into the role of social activist and am attempting to publicize some of the failings I see in our, supposed, "social safety net".

To that end, I've created a web site at http://gyfhas.ga

The purpose of this message is to allow you an opportunity to comment prior to posting our e-mail exchange, which I will be doing after forty-eight hours.

GYFHAS Hogtown, Ontario, Canada E-mail: info@gyfhas.ca