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Posted September 21, 2012 | comments 6 Comments

SAAA plans to eye bigger donors

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging may seek outside aid to secure bigger, corporate donors in an effort to erase its lingering debt.

Agency officials on Friday suggested the SAAA consider Sue Vantine, a Clarke County woman familiar with the organization and experienced in raising money through corporations. Robert Haas, director of transportation for the agency, and others lauded Vantine as someone with an "impressive" resume they feel could help the SAAA find donors willing to make large contributions.

Officials said the fundraiser likely would be contracted to provide the service. Board members said the service would be well worth the $60,000-$70,000 price if the fundraiser can secure large-enough donors.

The agency remains approximately $600,000 in debt to lenders and accountants. The amount includes attorneys fees accrued as the agency defended itself in lawsuits against former top officials Ann McIntyre and Helen Cockrell, the latter of which the parties recently settled.

Board Chairman John Hudson, a vice president with the Bank of Clarke County, explained the agency's debt to lenders does not pose an immediate threat. The agency continues to pay down the interest on the lines of credit.

However, the agency needs to pay off the existing bills such as the attorneys fees as well as debt accrued under the previous administration which also sparked an ongoing criminal probe by the Virginia State Police and the Clarke County Commonwealth's Attorney.

Hudson noted he proposed to staff that the agency hold a fundraiser for the specific purpose of paying off the short-term debt. The fear remains that donors may not want to give money for that purpose if it doesn't go to services to the elderly.

"Be totally up front with the public, say 'we have this debt, we have no visible way at the moment to retire this debt' and not affect our services," Hudson said.

The agency owes $41,000 to the accounting firm Yount, Hyde and Barbour which performs its audit and other services; $15,000 to the law firm of Lenhart Obenshain and $10,000 to attorney Benjamin Butler, according to SAAA Director of Operations Jonathan Price said. The agency owes more money to Valley Health. However, the SAAA has a $200,000 loan to pay off on its building, plus a $100,000 line of credit through BB&T bank.

The SAAA continues to make progress on reconciling its debt while working with less money. Hudson noted the agency, while operating under a fiscal budget of $3.1 million, showed as of Friday, had expenses of $1.9 million in revenue and $1.8 million in expenses. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Hudson explained the agency came in under budget by $1.2 million.

"I'd say that's remarkable," said outgoing board member Dr. Robert Kendall.

Also at the meeting the SAAA board:
* Voted to eliminate the agency's RSVP program which helps recruit volunteers ages 55 and older to assist at dozens of organizations and facilities, or stations, across the service area.
* Approved its fiscal 2013 budget.
* Accepted Jim Edwards as a member of the board to replace Clarke County Sheriff Anthony "Tony" Roper as a representative of that locality. Edwards begins his service in October.
* Learned of Teresa Strohmeyer's reappointment by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors as a representative for that locality.

6 Comments | Leave a comment

    This agency has had paid fundraisers in the past who have not been successful in raising large donations. The economy is not performing; folks are looking after their own first. Will Ms. Vantine work on a commission; probably not...just wondering.

    We are confused with the $60,000-70,000 price tag regarding securing corporate contributions. If the agency is struggling to get out of debt, can a chance be taken that corporate donations may not be successful. We do feel this is a wonderful organization with very dedicated volunteers and does meet a community need. However, we would not want to see anything done to further harm the seniors. Since the various city and county governments do appropriate funds to the operation of this agency, we feel those governments should question some of the board decisions. We certainly hope proper procedures are in place to avoid a future incident as happened in the past resulting in the financial problems.

    What happened to SAAA's Walk-a-thon this year? There's been no publicity about it and it was supposed to have happened on Sept 15th!! They haven't updated their website in weeks, it's still showing the Walk-a-thon as happening on Sept 15th, along with an Indoor Yard Sale on Sept 14th...if they want to be taken seriously, they need to act like professionals and at least keep their website updated. They haven't updated the staff portion of their website in over a year!!

    I tried to look up Ms Vantine and found nothing, I mean nothing, on her, so how good can she be? If she's supposed to be a high-powered marketing and fundraising person, you'd think there would be something about her accomplishments written somewhere - especially if she's worth $60,000-$70,000!! That sounds like 10% of SAAA's total debt which leads me to believe there may be some violation of the fundraising rules of ethics that say professional fundraisers shouldn't get paid based on what they raise.

    SAAA's current executive staff doesn't seem to have the experience or the education to run the organization, however dedicated they may be. And this sounds like another mistake in an attempt to try and "temp" in expertise.

    NOTHING about this agency has been transparent for years...Keep it internal,no one will find out.....WELL, that did not work so well.We all found out .....too late....Sarah...you are so right about the present administration.The present (interim) CEO has neither the expertise,education,or experience for this job...She has absolutely worked at the agency for many years.....Almost ALL of them as a secretary....She became nutrition director when Avis Jones resigned....she knew nothing about this position...her credentials she now displays are simply workshops provided by the state...All center directors were required to attend these also....These were NOT training sessions for nutrition directors..She was promoted by Helen.Helen needed someone to back up her ideas.Helen knew she was not qualified.....that was what she needed....IT WORKED..Get an executive director that is qualified....lets see what happens...sure cannot make things any worse...The board of directors let this happen by believing everything Helen reported,with no confirming evidence....just took her word for all reported.A new board should be recruited,and let this wonderful agency move forward again..

      I don't know how you can tell people that they are getting laid off and that they will not be re-called for work and then want to hire someone when the one(s) that you laid off and are still laid off are capable of doing the job. The reason is that they asked too many questions and wanted to know why the money was going where it should not have. They were told by a Board member things that were not true and when they told the board member that, he just laughed. We all know who is running the show and now with his mommy gone from the board, it is all his, with no education either...........have a great day.

        I am sure I do not know exactly who you are talking about....Jonathan....perhaps...Do not know his qualifications,but whatever they are it surely is not working to right this ship.I do know the present CEO is not qualified,and it is obvious.Help is needed from people who can make changes...if this does not happen this agency is doomed!!!!Caring,and trying does not translate into success...

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