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Where are the checks and balances for Wilsonville Community Sharing?

For the past 30 years, Wilsonville Community Sharing has been helping those in the community who are in their time of need. WCS was founded about 30 years ago and started the food bank in 1999.

From receiving groceries from the food bank to getting referrals for utility assistance as well as low-cost housing, WCS believes everyone deserves a helping hand.

However, what may now need assistance is the organization itself. With board membership at an all-time low, costs associated with constructing a new building soaring and strife between current and former members, the structure of WCS needs examination.

In 2011, WCS provided free food to 1,604 families in need, representing 5,146 individuals. It also provided utility assistance to 75 families. The nonprofit’s referral service had 194 office visits, 1,466 phone calls, dealt with 25 homeless issues and sent 1,057 referrals to other agencies. All this comes from a staff of two part-time employees and a crew of volunteers.

Obviously there is a need in Wilsonville and WCS is working to fill it. If WCS fails, what will happen to these families?

Though overseen by the Oregon Food Bank, officials there say they have no authority or oversight of WCS. The city of Wilsonville, which partners with and helps fund WCS, has no control of how it is run or who runs it. The Oregon Department of Justice, which helps monitor and regulate about 18,000 charities, has no time to micromanage nonprofits and will only address issues if complaints are filed.

In the end, it seems pretty easy for WCS to fly under the radar and flounder its way through the system.

We believe Wilsonville residents deserve better. We think checks and balances need to be put in place to ensure WCS is not only following its own rules, but can live up to the expectations of the community.

WCS needs to be accountable for the dollars and cents coming in through its doors, as well as increase transparency in how the board functions.

As of last week there were only two people remaining of what should be a seven- to 10-member board. How can two volunteers be expected to efficiently manage an annual budget of $110,000, much less raise about $500,000 in less than a year for a new facility?

Next month, the Wilsonville City Council will consider entering into a contract with Wilsonville Community Sharing. The grant contract would span three years and require audits and annual financial reviews.

We think any new contract should contain even more changes.

The WCS board of directors should have as wide of representation as possible. Ideally, this would mean representatives from the city, the school district, the chamber of commerce and the church community.

WCS also needs to be more open about its financials and its meetings, posting both its state and federal reportings and meeting minutes online where they are most widely accessible. Meetings should be open to the public and posted.

Wilsonville cannot afford to lose this important entity in the city. Let’s work to make the system better for everyone.




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  • 19 Dec 2014

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