The Real Deal on Non-Profits

Hoo boy is campaign season in full swing or what? We have been out-of-breath trying to keep up with moderating our Facebook site as people seem to be taking great joy in expressing their opinions, some of which are true, some half true, and some … well some are just outright lies. Our Facebook page blew up last night when an accusation was made against the mayor. It was proven incorrect and – thankfully – the person who *insisted* it was true finally retracted the statement and apologized.  Remember the saying that perception is reality?  Well guys, perception is NOT always reality. Perception is just how people see the truth and the truth can be subjective. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, some people truly believe that things are one way when in reality they are another.

For example, some people believe that the Earth is only 5,000, maybe 6,000 years old. Yet carbon tests have proven that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  The point is people will argue until their last breath about how wrong another person is or a policy is, when the brutal reality is yelling it does not make it right.  It’s better to remain silent and be thought of as stupid than to open your mouth and erase all doubt.

For instance, this comment was posted on Facebook last night while mud was being slung all over the web.

We at This is LaVergne take issue with the accusation that the board is showing favoritism toward the group.  Box 100 is an organization that serves as a rehab unit on behalf of fire, police, and other city departments who are on the scene of emergencies for extended periods of time.  The rehabilitation function is directed by federal protocol managed by Homeland Security and FEMA.  I made a phone call to some of the Box 100 leaders and learned that Rutherford County has approached the organization to provide them with training and services, but because Box 100 is funded by the city of La Vergne (they also do their own fundraising), they are a service dedicated exclusively to the city.  Did we already mention that work performed by members is 100 percent volunteer? They work for free to block roads, coordinate volunteers during major emergencies, provide hydration for police and fire personnel who are facing the elements in the course of their jobs, give them a warm place to rest in the winter and a cool place to rest in the summer, and so much more.

Up to 2010, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave $24,000 per year in funding to the organization.  When the current board was sworn in, they made extensive cuts in their non-profit funding and reduced Box 100’s amount to $15,000 in both 2011 and 2012.  This money is used to maintain vehicles, including insurance, fuel, and repairs. Food, water, coffee, and gatorade are purchased to provide relief, particularly if these responders have been on a scene for an extended period of time. But it’s not just the responders who receive help.  Victims of fires, crimes, hazmat situations, weather emergencies, and more… all of these people are aided by the group.

It is natural that members of Box 100 get to know city personnel – whether elected or in other service jobs – because they are often on the scene helping these dedicated workers. If you would like to volunteer your time and give back to your community, Box 100 does need members because they are on call 24/7 and 365 days per year. In fact, these volunteer members responded on Christmas morning to a fire at the gun store giving up that holiday with their families AND on Thanksgiving they were at the side of Public Works while they repaired a major water main line break.

Other nonprofits have also had funds cut, but some funds have been restored. The LaVergne Smyrna Assistance Coalition received $2500 in the 2010-11 budget.  The next fiscal year, that amount was reduced to $1500 because – if you’ll remember – it was the year of reality for the city’s financial crisis.  For the 2012-13 fiscal year, because the city removed $10,000 in funding from animal control since this is already paid by our county taxes, the money became available for other nonprofits. The Assistance Coalition was bumped up to $3500.  The budget for nonprofit organizations, with an increase for the Assistance Coalition, Meals on Wheels, the Child Advocacy Center, and the LaVergne Boxing (designed to help at-risk youth) was approved by a 4 to 1 vote.  Mayor Mosley, Vice Mayor Farmer, Alderman Tom Broeker, and Alderman Sherry Green voted yes.  Alderman Dennis Waldron voted no.

Perception can be reality.  Mr. Waldron is receiving a lot of credit for helping the LaVergne Smyrna Assistance Coalition thanks to television interviews.  Maybe he did help out of his own pocket.  However the reality is that he voted no for funding this organization and other nonprofit groups in the 2012-13 fiscal year budget. I am borrowing this photo from another facebook site that shows how elected officials voted on the nonprofit funding.  Please note anyone can look it up themselves through the city’s web page.

Sometimes reality is reality.

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