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Chimes for Charity Chairwoman Charged with Stealing Over $60,000

Kim Walker Hill, who was previously serving as Chairwoman of the Board for Chimes for Charity, has been indicted for stealing over $60,000 from the organization. Hill was brought up on charges of theft after an investigation revealed her involvement with missing funds.

The police department launched an investigation back in October 2016 after several Chimes for Charity board members filed complaints about financial irregularities. Authorities looked into documents spanning as far back as 2009.

According to State Gazette, Hill is being charged with unlawfully and knowingly obtaining control over approximately $63,534.18 with intent to deprive the true owner thereof, and without the owner’s effective consent. If convicted, she could face anywhere from eight to 30 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $25,000.

But this isn’t the only reason Chimes for Charity is in hot water. The investigation also revealed that in 2005, the organization failed to file an annual report with the Secretary of State Division of Business Services. Because of this, their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status was revoked. However, the organization continued to operate as a nonprofit for more than a decade.

The news comes as a shock to the small community of Dyersburg, Tennessee. For approximately 70 years, the charity has donated toys, food, and clothing to the less fortunate. Chimes for Charity officially closed up shop in October of 2016 as a result of the criminal investigation. Meanwhile, Hill’s arraignment is scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday, February 21.

It just goes to show that fraud can happen anytime, anywhere. That’s why donors need to stay vigilant about any organizations they plan on donating to. Those who have suspicions about an organization’s use of funds are encouraged to notify authorities immediately.

The longer these types of organizations are operational, the more people are victimized. Charities like these give all nonprofits a bad name, which makes people less likely to donate.

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Tennessee Program to Feed Hungry Children Falters due to Fraud, Incompetence

As many as 1 in 4 children living in Tennessee are at risk of hunger, which is why the Department of Human Services has been contracting with various non-profits around the state to help provide those children with meals and snacks. Unfortunately, the process has had significant problems.

Now, Building Futures, one of the non-profits previously contracted, is suing DHS for wrongful termination, after the agency claimed that Building Futures was one of a number of groups that were delivering less food that promised, and pocketing the leftover cash. Lawyers for Building Futures have declined to say anything specific about the case, but have said that they aren’t one of the groups doing that.

According to The Tennessean, a number of the other groups associated with the program have been fraudulent, and some even have fraud convictions in other states. Building Futures is actually based in Arkansas, and due to their termination by DHS, they can’t work with similar programs in either state. Building Futures even went so far as to replay DHS almost $20,000 dollars that the agency claimed the overcharged, all while maintaining that they didn’t overcharge DHS or defraud them.

DHS has it’s own problems as well. They’ve faced criticism over poor management of this and other programs, which doesn’t seem surprising considering how much fraud seems to be happening. Carmen Gentry, former director of DHS, resigned in July. She claimed that DHS has failed to improve their internal processes, and that they don’t have any kind of consistent, computerized tracking of their programs, despite requests from within and without DHS to do exactly that.

Between the internal problems of DHS, and the potential for outright fraud by unscrupulous “charities” that saw the opportunity to rip off the State of Tennessee, it’s not surprising that the program has failed to achieve it’s goals. Of course, the real victims are the hungry children who haven’t been helped because of greed, incompetence, or both.

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Helping Homeless Families

The common image of homelessness is a man in layers of ragged clothing, begging for change in a big city. This is, however, far from the full picture. Most people don’t think that much about the issue, and so many aspects of homelessness get ignored.

One of those aspects, often overlooked by even the most generous of people, is family homelessness. As the name implies, family homelessness affects whole families, which can find themselves without a home for any number of reasons. Eviction, job loss, fires, medical bills and so on, anything that might drive a single person into the street can put entire families there as well.

Homeless

Safe Haven Family Shelter works to alleviate these problems in the Middle Tennessee region. Centered around a shelter-to-housing program, Safe Haven begins looking for housing for families as soon as they bring them in, with space for up to 10 families in their shelter. Thanks to a variety of community grants, they are able to help 30 families at a time with housing.

In addition to helping families find and attain housing, Safe Haven provides a variety of educational assistance. They offer assistance with financial literacy, job training and job placement, and offer intensive case management. They use evidence-based methods, influenced by such theories as trauma-informed care or Parent Child Interaction Therapy, to ensure that families receive the best, specific help possible.

Safe Haven accepts a variety of aid from donors and supporters. They accept both money and donations of goods which families can use, such as linens, baby goods, and household items. They also offer volunteer opportunities for people who wish to help out more directly.

If you want to help address the problem of family homelessness, but you can’t make it to Tennessee to volunteer or want to help families closer to you, there are a number of other shelters and programs you can support. A simple Internet search for family homelessness and your zip code or city should get you started.