A raw deal

Charities should embrace, not exclude, people they exist to serve.

By Barbara Goodmon

[07.15.04] – Charities hurt their cause when they reject the very people whose needs they are supposed to address.

Take the Raleigh Girls Club, which reportedly rejected Tonynetia Hill, a 10-year-old girl with diabetes, because her mother requested her daughter be reminded every three hours to check her sugar level.

The group’s director told The News & Observer the club was not a day-care center and could not handle the girl’s needs.

Diabetes is becoming a major problem among kids, particularly those living in poverty.

I would hope this organization and any other charity would welcome kids diagnosed with diabetes, taking the opportunity to teach them about their disease, and to reinforce proper diet and exercise.

The mission of the Raleigh Girls Club is to serve underserved kids.

This is a nonprofit that asks donors to provide scholarships for children who need a place to spend their idle hours.

The group’s nonprofit mission, and the case it makes to donors, should lead it to make room for as many kids as possible.

Most kids from high-risk families have complex problems but limited options.

Typically, when people living in poverty are turned away from a program, they do nothing, not realizing they have remedies.

Fortunately for Tonynetia Hill, her mother refused to take no for an answer, and the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities is considering whether to take up her cause.

When my own children were young and involved in summer programs, they often needed medicine or looking after.

And while we had lots of other options for our children, the special attention they needed never led to their rejection by the programs they joined.

Sadly, Tonynetia Hill has no other options.

Having the money to pay to attend summer programs should not make a difference, but it does.

Instead of finding excuses to turn away people who turn to them for help, charities should find ways to serve more people.

By being more inclusive, not more exclusive, charities can better fulfill their mission and justify the community support they need.


Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.

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