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Republican legislators raise money for Salvation Army

From left, Republican State Representatives Fred Wilms, Gail Lavielle and Terri Wood raise money for the Salvation Army recently at the Main Avenue Stop ‘n Shop. (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. – This is a press release, presented in the format in which it was sent:

 

Reps. Lavielle, Wilms, & Wood Volunteer to Raise Money for the Salvation Army in Norwalk

 

NORWALK – State Representatives Gail Lavielle (R-143), Fred Wilms (R-142), and Terrie Wood (R-141 teamed up with the Salvation Army on Tuesday to ring the bell outside Stop & Shop on Main Ave. in Norwalk and raise money for local residents in need this holiday season as a part of their Red Kettle Campaign.  They stood outside the store and asked shoppers to contribute money to the kettle.  All proceeds went to the Salvation Army.

“I’m grateful that the money we collected will go directly towards helping struggling families have a happy holiday season,” said Rep. Lavielle. “We would all like to thank the Salvation Army for the work they do on behalf of local residents by helping with heating costs, putting food on the table, and providing winter clothing. I’m happy we could help with those important efforts.”

“During this time of year it is important to remember those less fortunate, and to extend help to our neighbors in need,” said Rep. Wilms. “Participating in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign has been humbling. As the holidays approach, I can’t think of a better way to give back to the community than by volunteering my time for this great cause. I encourage my constituents to reach out to those less fortunate during this season of giving, if possible, and thank those who have already donated. I am proud to represent a district that displays so much generosity not only during the holidays, but year round.”

“Every little bit really does help, and this campaign really shows how your donations impact the lives of people who may be struggling during this time of year,” said Rep. Wood.  “I was proud to be a part of this holiday tradition in volunteering for the Salvation Army.  I encourage all of my constituents to do what they can to look out for others in their community as well.”

The legislators wanted to note that anyone unable to make it to Stop & Shop on Tuesday could still help them raise money for the Salvation Army by texting “CTREP” to 71777 and donating directly to the House and Senate Republicans’ Red Kettle.  Donors may also visit the Salvation Army’s website at www.salvationarmyusa.org to learn of other ways to do good this holiday season; for example, by donating cars, clothing, household goods, airline miles, bonds and stocks, or volunteering for the community.

The Salvation Army responds to natural disasters such as wildfires and tornadoes, provides meals and toys to families in need, and conducts research and analyses regarding human needs around the country. They also provide adult rehabilitation, veteran services, elderly services, missing person searches, housing assistance, youth recreation, sponsorship, and support in the fight to end human trafficking.

State Representative Gail Lavielle represents the 143rd district, which includes parts of Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton. She is Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committee.

State Representative Fred Wilms represents the 142nd General Assembly district communities of Norwalk and New Canaan. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Planning and Development Committee, and the Transportation Committee.

State Rep. Terrie Wood represents the 141st General Assembly district which includes Darien and part of Norwalk.  She is Ranking Member on the legislature’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee, and serves on the Human Services and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees. 

This press release was posted as a public service. A press release is a written announcement submitted to news organizations to publicize an event or activity, a milestone or a point of view. NancyOnNorwalk has not researched the assertions made and takes no responsibility for the content.

13 comments

Piberman December 17, 2017 at 10:03 am

In a world where half million salaries for Charity CEO’s are commonplace its remarkable that the Salvation Army’s CEO is paid just $13,000 overseeing a 2 billion dollar a year enterprise.
Kudos.

John Levin December 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

There are lots of ways to help struggling families, and to simultaneously promote your political, or commercial, brand. But, in my opinion, the Salvation Army represents a poor choice. Yes, the Salvation Army does some good work, but at the same time the organization has a long history of discrimination against LGBTQ employees and whistle blowers, although many of its discrimination and proselytizing practices have recently been abandoned (in part due to legal actions):

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-arel/the-salvation-armys-white-flag-surrender-to-secularism_b_5003298.html

https://www.advocate.com/religion/2017/12/08/salvation-army-we-meet-human-need-without-discrimination

However, the Salvation Army is, and always has, operated as a church. Although it operates as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, because it is a church it is granted an exemption from the IRS Form 990 filing requirement – a special privilege afforded ONLY to religious organizations but not secular organizations. The Salvation Army could choose to file a Form 990 voluntarily, but it does not. Consequently, the organization is not subject to any reasonable level of accountability or transparency to its donors. I hope that when our republican legislators are doing their day job of structuring our state’s laws and policies, they are more data-driven and demand at least some level of accountability and transparency.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Donna Smirniotopoulos December 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Here is the Salvation Army’s 990 for 2015. If this link doesn’t work, log onto Guidestar (you may need to register).

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2015/580/660/2015-580660607-0c60ff3c-9.pdf

Agree that there are 501c3’s that are not required to file 990s. For example those making less than 50k are not required to file. A lack of transparency is a problem for some non profits.

In terms of returns on donations, the Salvation Army returns about 83 cents on the dollar, except in times of crisis, when they donate 100% of receipts.

After allegations of discriminatory behavior towards members of the LGBTQ community, the Salvation Army appears to have bent over backward to rebuild its image and to ensure their aid reaches those in need regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.

Researching organizations before you donate is always a heathy practice.

Merry Christmas!

Piberman December 17, 2017 at 6:03 pm

The Red Cross is often cited as the gold standard returning 91 cents on its $3.3 billion annual receipts. Reportedly its CEO has earned $500,000 annually unchanged since 2008.

Charity is Big Business in America. With many CEO’s earning half a million or more. Substantial numbers of spiritual leaders earning solid 6 figures. What is fairly unusual is the fairly small expense ratios of organizations like the Salvation and Red Cross. Each makes wide use of volunteers not paid staffs.

Looking up the financials and CEO salaries of ones favorite charities is apt to spoil ones day.
When giving often best not to ask too many questions. Some of us remember there once was a time when monies collected for the needy actually went to the needy. All of it. Now we have “progress”.

Isabelle Hargrove December 17, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Thank you, Donna, for setting the record straight. The Salvation Army has worked hard to address its internal discrimination issues and prides itself on helping ALL people. It is truly a shame to see a trustworthy and highly effective charitable organization smeared. $.82 out of every $ given reaches the needy; that is fantastic and donations/volunteering should be encouraged, not cynically mocked.

Thank you Gail, Terri, and Fred for volunteering your time; you chose wisely.

Isabelle Hargrove December 17, 2017 at 7:09 pm

@Piberman. I agree, and why also giving locally is often the surest way to know where your money is going.

But still, all the flaws we may find with charities pale in comparison to the ineptitude of government. One of my favorite book on this kind of question is The fractured Republic by Yuval Levin who advocates for local “mediating” institutions as the best way for society to help our longstanding poverty and social alienation problems.

John Levin December 17, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Umm, no. So, the Salvation Army operates a truly Byzantine network of legal entities, the vast majority of which operate as churches, and do not file a Form 990. So Donna, yes, there are pieces of it that do file a Form 990, possibly because they do not seek the church exemption, but it would be a mistake to assume that the entity you identified in the link, with 2014 revenue of $4 million and a business address in Baton Rouge is the same entity as the national headquarters based in Alexandria, Virginia, nor should you assume that it is related to the Salvation Army of Southern New England which operates in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and for which our republican legislators have very publicly volunteered to help with bell ringing and money collection. Good luck finding a Form 990 for that entity – it doesn’t exist. And good luck finding a Form 990 for the Salvation Army: Eastern Territory, under which Salvation Army SNE operates, it also does not exist. Instead, like almost every church entity in the country, the vast majority of Salvation Army entities enjoy the benefits of tax deductible contributions without any responsibilities associated with transparency or accountability.

So, yeah, my earlier comment repeats.

Best solution would be to eliminate religious privileging completely, and require every 501(c)3 to be treated the same.

Donna Smirniotopoulos December 18, 2017 at 12:29 am

The Salvation Army comes in at #7 above the girls and boys clubs and the Smithsonian in the Christian Science Monitor review of charities. It is a huge global organization. Though evangelical in its origins, the focus today is on charitable outreach. The church is not required to file, but many subsidiaries do file 990s.

Here is a feature from NBC News.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/feature/season-of-kindness/amp/salvation-army-red-kettles-numbers-n472246

The Salvation Army’s history in evangelical Christianity should not be misconstrued as a self interested or biased mission. Again they’re consistently highly ranked, returning 82 cents on the dollar to public outreach. They should not be unfairly tarrred for having an evangelical backstory.

If churches should have to file financial disclosure statements, so should all other non profits, Including those with contributions below 50k.

Chapman Hyperlocal Media, where are your 990s?

John Levin December 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

Okay, here we go.

I don’t know how the Christian Science Monitor ranks charities. Providing a numerical ranking, like US News and World Report does with colleges, seems like a futile quest, unless it fits into the company’s business model. I understand that the Christian Science Monitor enjoys an excellent reputation for its journalism, yet I note it also operates as a 501(c)3, and because it is owned by a church, it does not file a Form 990.

It is not clear why some Salvation Army entities file a Form 990 – although clearly the VAST majority, and the largest ones, do not. The entity in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for which you posted the link to its 2014 Form 990 filing, had sought the church exemption but apparently had been compelled to file a Form 990 by some regulatory body. If you read the Form 990 for that entity you would see that the filing was “submitted under protest in compliance with the ruling of CFC Opinion 88-1”, whatever that is. So there’s some mystery here.

There is little question in my mind that the Salvation Army does a lot of good things and helps a lot of people. Nonetheless, it operates as a church, generally discloses little or nothing, faces no accountability, and all of its officers are church members – an employee of the company who is not a church member necessarily faces limited advancement. The “82 cents on the dollar to public outreach” probably is a pretty good number, but of course it is self-reported and there is no way to know whether it accurate, nor how the evangelical church owned business defines its “outreach”. It’s worth noting that for the Baton Rouge entity that you posted the link to, an outside company was hired for “fundraisin”, which I will guess is similar to fundraising, and that company, “True Sense Marketing”, kept 28% of the money it raised. See – these Form 990s really can help give a sense of how a charity operates.

NancyOnNorwalk is operated by Chapman Hyperlocal Media, Inc., which has been a registered 501(c)3 since November, 2014. Because NancyOnNorwalk has annual revenue that is below the $50,000 threshold to require filing a complete Form 990, the company saves a boatload of time and money and files only the abbreviated Form 990N which offers very limited disclosure. As a long time donor to NoN and board member of CHMI, I would be elated if NoN could pass that revenue mark. Right now, Donna, we are running about $20,000 short. Personally, I would be overjoyed and thankful if you or any other supporter could help make up that difference and move NancyOnNorwalk up to the revenue level the organization so richly deserves. When it gets there, of course it will meet all of its regulatory requirements including a Form 990 filing. Unless, I suppose, Nancy decides to become a church.

David T McCarthy December 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Al’s Angels is one of the best local charities there is. As far as I know, more than 100% of funds collected go to the needy (i.e. the organizers add to the donations)

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

About Nancy

Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.