The Nonprofit 1 Percent

Even the do-gooders can seem blind to their own excess

The main room is a bright, pleasant space with a lot of sunlight. For many of the 30 to 50 people found here on any given day, this is the primary point of human contact in their lives.

The choir met and performed here for the last time on February 8 in a gospel concert presented for Black History Month. Moran showed up in a black evening gown.

"I want this to be special for them," Moran said. "I'll go home and cry later."

It was obvious that the GuildCare choir is a real gospel choir, but there were no matching robes. The women did take special care with what they wore, even though many of them are blind (like much of their audience).

There was also no slick choreography. When they marched in singing "This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made," the members were bumping into one another and shaking homemade pom-poms made of crepe paper and pipe cleaners.

The music was not perfect, but that only made it feel more authentic. Like the blues, these songs were rough and rich with the texture of lived experience.

Rachel Gonzalez, a Hispanic singer who lost some independent mobility with the recent death of her Seeing Eye dog, recited a five-minute poem she had written from memory. Dorothy Mathis, an African American woman who suffers from dementia, sang "Amazing Grace." It visibly appeared to shock the staff.

"Dorothy has days where she can't remember the difference between apple juice and orange juice," Moran said. "And there she is singing all four verses of 'Amazing Grace!'"

Daniela Luna belted out "Confidence in You" in Spanish.

An old man started to weep during "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," and Maria Claro held him. The music touches not just the singers, the audience, and the staff, but also the former staff.

After the performance, Gonzalez talked about her life, which started in Brooklyn and led her to Yonkers. She might have lost her one and only service animal, but not her sense of humor. She said she'd had a reporter "checked out" for his age and appearance.

"What? You think blind people don't care about what someone looks like?" she asked with mock surprise. "The blind men do it all the time! They'll be talking to a woman for the first time, and as soon as she goes away, they'll be asking their sighted friends: 'She pretty? What's her rack like?'

"Why can't blind women do this, too?" she asked playfully.

Lunch was served by the professional staff of the Guild and often included clock-based instructions: "You've got chicken at 12 o'clock, collard greens at three, spiced yams at six."

Before lunch was over, an announcement was made about upcoming activities. The following day, in the kind of room where choir practice or music therapy used to happen, a staff member announces without irony that there will be a lecture on "Medicaid and the federal deficit."

During cleanup, Debbie Moran, who is technically no longer working here, had changed out of her nice dress into casual clothes and was helping others with their plates.

"Can't we just get rid of plastic cups instead of getting rid of Debbie?" someone asked.

But it's the presence of Claro helping out with these tasks that's the strangest of all.

After all, she'd already been laid off a couple weeks earlier.

"They are mi gente, my people," Claro says later. "I was there because I told them I'd always be there for them. They asked me to come to their concert, so I came."

Claro had worked as an aide. She cleaned toilets and scrubbed floors and helped serve lunch. But she also translated for clients, helping them fill out forms and "giving people that personal touch—a hug or a kiss when someone needed it."

Claro worked at the Guild for more than a dozen years, first at the nursing home until it closed before moving to the day center. When she learned her full-time position was being eliminated, she was given a couple of choices, including a total layoff.

"They offered me a job downtown" in the administrative office, Claro says. But that involved "a typing test" she seemed nervous about and no contact with "mi gente," and it also meant, because of union seniority, "I would have bumped someone else off of their job, and I didn't feel right about that. I don't have kids. I don't have a mortgage. How could I make someone else lose their job who might have those things?"

Claro was also offered a part-time job at the day center, but one where she would not have been working with people. "I'd have just been cleaning," and she would have had to pay $800 a month for her insurance, meaning she'd earn "more on unemployment."

She took the layoff.

"I lost a job, but they lost a person who cared about them," Claro says. "And Dr. Morse doesn't have the faintest idea of the damage he did to those clients."

Despite this, Claro has nothing but kind words to say about Joan Clark, the manager of the center. "She's in a hard place," she says.

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26 comments
Boo_Bottoms
Boo_Bottoms

Typical liberals... ripping off the Taxpayers and the these poor people. No wonder they support the Magic Negro.... it's like printing money.

F'n Joos are either stealing through the Banks or social programs like this... money is their God!

Larry Marsden
Larry Marsden

Even the nonprofit organizations are doing the wall street hustle!!!

Ymgscoringhigh
Ymgscoringhigh

Wow, do people still believe that "non-profit" is really not profitable. Come on people, Trillions of dollars are donated around the world, yet we still have hunger, people are still homeless and poor residents roofs still leak. It's a bigger scam than politicians and these people get praised for the "WORK". Of course they have great big marble mantles to put all their do gooder awards on. Why be a politician at all, just start a non-profit.

Hamilton55
Hamilton55

You are absolutely correct....I cringe when I hear someone say, here's a problem/ need let's start a program or NFP.

Dean Michael Mead
Dean Michael Mead

It took a while for the public to catch on to what is going on at the Guild. They killed a phenomenal early intervention program for blind children under 4, many of them multiply handicapped as well. Why did they kill it? It wasn't profitable. Hold on a second, isn't that concept inherent in the mission of a not-for-profit organization? They do the things that private business won't do because they're not profitable activities.

Stealinghope
Stealinghope

i feel that there ought to be in addition to (1) for profit and (2) not for profit organizations there ought to be a third category: (3) not for profit, my foot organizations ... as evinced herein (this article) and other places there are many people at not for profits who do quite well financially, including, but not limited to 'development' (fund raising) people who sometimes get a percentage of the take. one example of a 'renowned' organization (MSKCC) whose non pareil raison d'etre (and mostly selfless employees) is at times in variance with their tack and actions: “Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer] ... there are also instances of craven self servitude at MSKCC conducted by people who drop their moral compasses, yet clearly know better. another example is the aids vaccine ride of perhaps ~ 15 years ago, multiple sponsored city to city 3 day ~ 300 mile bike rides that required relatively large sums of funds to be raised for the cause by participants, but when all was said and done, perhaps ~ 14% of accruals went to charity. That's just not right.

Stealinghope
Stealinghope

There ought to be 3 categories of business: (1) for profit; (2) not for profit; (3) not for profit, my a** ... as there are many at not for profits who make a lot of money ... including beggars in three piece suits (a Paul Fussell [Class] term) a.k.a. 'development' people. Take for example the 'renowned' MSKCC ... “Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer] ... at that Institute whose raison d'etre is indeed non pareil and most of whose employees are selfless there are unfortunately individuals (suits, non-clinicians, etc. ) who attempt to influence enrollment in clinical trials in variance with a clinician's intuition when very large milestone [clinical trial phase completion dependent] royalty payments lay in the balance. In addition attempts to expand by that institute have been described as bullying are framed by the bizarre facilities management and infrastructure problems that are swept under the rug. These include but are not limited to chronically exposing its workers to poison (carbon monoxide) [resulting in abandonment of a building after firstly dispatching selfless employees who rightfully complain about safety issues on pretense], knowingly not installing ductwork controls in a laboratory building and other egregious oversights that stand to affect and have likely effected reaction conditions of experiments that may result in clinical trial candidates. the following citation is but one example: http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/e... ... Ariad stock once increased by 100x (10,000%!!) in perhaps a 4 month time frame. Are YOU an Ariad millionaire? Were you in on that? MSKCC's incumbent President is currently involved in his own he said/she said (IP) Intellectual Property imbroglio. The disingenuousness that emanates from that Institute is intermittently palpable, and those who commit conflict of interest, ethics, environmental health and safety lapses clearly know better.

Bk
Bk

I spent five years working for one of the most well-known non-profits, and the experience led me to the understanding that one should give a charitable contribution ONLY to a direct service provider. Those large, national paper tiger non-profits all have overpaid mouthpieces, be they execs, boards or consultants. As with most things political, grass roots is where it's greener, donation-wise.

Hmmmm
Hmmmm

Occupy is funded, run, and promoted by non profit crooks.

tampajohn1
tampajohn1

Occupy is right on ---time to do a lot of readjustment $$$$$ - and get rid of these crony ". Not for profit" crooks. United Way - same con game --March of Dimes same con game. It is a national con game and the insiders know it. Wake up America!

NirzwanB
NirzwanB

the courts should take the money and belongings of that evil person and do something good with it to make up for this.

Raydog1973
Raydog1973

The thing is most of these non profit presidents probably come from money in the first place. In my expericnes nonprofit leadership is filled with the blacksheep of rich families who dont want to be surrounded by all that wealth than end up making the same amount of money in a nonprofit enviorment

Gues
Gues

Why didn't this article mention the organization's Board of Directors, and their responsibility to run the organization in a fiscally responsible manner? They are the ones that approve the budget, including the President's compensation.

Datebi
Datebi

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car movers
car movers

not everything is money, there are something called values and you have to stand for that. Morse is type who don't care about it and its his failure no matter how much he earns

Datebi
Datebi

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Paula
Paula

I heard the Alzheimer's Association is also like this.

Alexandra
Alexandra

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crookedE
crookedE

Morse should take a lesson from his own (former) employees - sometimes you do work for reasons other than money.

zagfooo
zagfooo

See now that is exactly what I am talking about dude. WOw.Total-Privacy dot US

alvise giglio
alvise giglio

OMG! Alan Morse is the scum below the pond scum in the septic tank in my yard. What a heartless bastard!!

msbpodcast
msbpodcast

Alan Morse is a rich prick without a conscience.

When the zombie apocalipse comes, I hope he is not one of the first to go.

I want him to suffer.

Maybe they'll just eat his eyes and keep the rest of him as a larder.

 
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