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Screen the volunteers

Editorial

The unfortunate case of Anna Mueller, the treasurer of the Benson Polytechnic High School Booster Club accused of embezzling $10,000 from the club, is not the first incident of such wrongdoing in local volunteer organizations.

Nor will it be the last.

Throughout Portland schools, and in sports clubs and volunteer groups across the region, it is too easy for a volunteer to steal funds.

Common-sense procedures, such as criminal background checks, are limited or not used at all. Meanwhile, few checks and balances, such as having multiple people involved in managing finances are in place.

Few people ever suggest tougher standards for volunteers. Why? Because it is hard to believe that anyone volunteering to assist young people or the needy would do something wrong. Also, some people think volunteers might be offended if standards are raised.

But schools, club sports and other organizations devalue the immense commitment of their volunteers when they fail to require strict procedures for financial management and complete criminal background checks. The sincere volunteers and donors will appreciate such scrutiny.

And, given the Anna Mueller case and other unfortunate thefts, they will applaud higher standards.