[tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to hide

  • From: Owen Mccaul <mccaulo@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2015 19:40:36 -0400

Wow. I'm so glad someone came along to set all of us ignorant blind folk straight.

Am I the only one that found this condescending?

-----Original Message-----
To: tabi <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Fri, Sep 4, 2015 3:56 pm
Subject: [tabi] Re: What is the lighthouse of the big bend trying to hide

Hi Folks

I don't get a chance to be on e mail very often, just every few days.  I've just had the  chance to read the e mails that have arrived in the past 24 hours or so. 

Norine, I respect your decision to remain in a role of supportive counseling to blind people, particularly those at the Lighthouse.  There is always a risk of liability when serving on a Board, and your decision reduced that risk. 

I understand fundraising is not the mission of the Lighthouse.  However, the State does not provide all of the funding necessary for the delivery of services to the Blind, and fundraising is a key component to longevity in the not for profit world.  Another function a board provides is long term planning.  The article I attached cautions against taking a board arbitrating personnel issues and recommends it serve only as a court of appeal in the rarest of circumstances.  If there are good policies and procedures and grievance protocols, hiring, developing and releasing staff is left to the director. Rarely, about one or two times a year, I do read about directors who embezzle (mentioned by Robert in a query to me).  I joined this thread because I understood you to be debating the role of a board in governing an agency.  I don't believe there has been any accusation of embezzlement, so I am puzzled by that question. 

Robert made a statement that the services provided by the Lighthouse used to be provided without the non profit agencies and were provided better is interesting.  If that's a scenario that can be documented, maybe that's a model that could be adopted.  How were services delivered at that time?  Were they still funded by the State?  Were the funds available then more or less what is available now?  I asked that because I wonder what happened when there wasn't enough money for the blind folks who needed services.What do you feel would be a better model for delivering services?  When I worked at the We Care Network, we filled a gap where services were disorganized and rarely effectively delivered to our clients.  Without our agency, thousands of people would not have received services at all. 

At our agency, our director did not need to know about being ill or uninsured to run a good organization.  She needed to know how to provide administration, represent our organization to the larger community, fund raise, work with contracts, hire and fire people, maintain the physical plant, and negotiate with vendors.  It was important that she hire good staff.  It sounds like you are saying the Lighthouse here in Tallahassee is not staffed well and that the people who work there are not qualified.  Does that mean, the people who are delivering the services to the blind community are not trained and qualified to provide those services? 

When I was at the We Care Network, we served visually impaired people who could not access the medical care they needed.  In private practice, I provide counseling to a number of individuals who are visually impaired, although their blindness is often only one of the issues with which they are dealing. 

Lynda, you stated what the Lighthouse needs is a Director with good administrative skills and a knowledge of blindness.  To me, that is one of the most sensible things I have read in this thread.  I believe one of the earlier emails indicates the position was advertised for only one week.  Actually, it was advertised for a full month, from July 24th through August 24th.  That's a very good thing; it means a wide variety of candidates have had a chance to reply.    

Robert asked if Barbara and I are friends.  Yes, we are both friends and colleagues.  I did not and will not be applying for the job.  I believe I explained I am a psychotherapist in private practice.  In fact, I agreed with you that it makes sense for the position to be widely listed in some of the forums you mentioned.  In my earlier e mail, I suggested you might approach the Board at the Lighthouse about re-advertising the position in case likely candidates were overlooked.

I am not writing in defense of Barbara.  I saw the subject line in this set of e mails, and it caught my interest.  The statement: "What is the Lighthouse of the Big Bend trying to hide" is inflammatory, and I was curious about WHAT they ARE trying to hide.  But, when I read the string of e mails, I realized the conversation seems to indicate a lack of understanding about the boundaries between:
1.  a board and an agency
2.  a board and the staff
3.  the director and the staff and
4.  the boundaries between any employee and the community at large. 

I am writing in hopes that, with my experience, I can help the group better understand the functions and boundaries of each of these components.  I joined the list serve yesterday because someone I know in the blind community was talking about it in a private dialogue.  That person was concerned about the inflammatory nature of the comments what sort of impact that could have on services to the blind community as a whole.  Our state government continues to cut funding for human services of all kinds, and education and health are greatly affected.  I hope you will consider how you can best support the organization which delivers services to make it the very best one we can have, strong and diverse and long lived, with or without state funding. 

Thanks all, for listening.  I hope the attached article is useful.


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