Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
H2O executive director Joetta Chrissakis inspects a donated player piano with employees (from left) Tigger Jauregui, David Van Lieu and Robert Rhoades Monday.
March 05, 2013
DALLAS -- Not long ago H2O was under a lengthy Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation and was within days of being shut down.
It's taken a long 15 months of careful budgeting and hard work, but the Dallas nonprofit thrift store and food bank has recovered from two years of financial mismanagement and suspected outright theft among former board members and employees.
"We really came out of a hole," said Joetta Chrissakis, H2O's executive director, who was largely responsible for the turnaround, according to current board members.
In May 2010, former H2O officials reported suspicions of financial mismanagement to DOJ. By the time Chrissakis -- who joined the charity's board of directors in August 2011 -- responded to DOJ investigators' requests for answers, the organization was four days from forced closure.
Just in time, Chrissakis began to clean house, moving from board member to executive director.
A year ago, the nonprofit was in a precarious position. Sales were beginning to improve and proper management restored, but there was still a question of survival.
That seems to have passed.
"People are back to where they trust the place enough that they are donating regularly," Chrissakis said.
The charity has re-established a partnership with Marion-Polk Food Share (MPFS) to help support its food bank, which gave out 29 food boxes in January.
Sleep Country has resumed donating beds, and Dallas Retirement Village and Perrydale School's FFA Chapter are donating once again.
Board Secretary Lindsay Wright said the organization has adopted a comprehensive policy handbook and resumed keeping proper records of all donations and financial transactions.
"Everything we have now is written down," she said. "Nothing is word of mouth. We don't really have any chance for anyone to go off on their own and do things."
Board President Keith Wright said with Chrissakis at the reins and a faithful group of employees and volunteers, H2O has returned to its original mission: helping people.
In January, H2O provided $1,000 of clothing and necessary items to the homeless and others in need through a Department of Human Services voucher program. The organization helps walk-ins, too.
"We give free clothes to people for job interviews, anything really to give people a leg up in this economy," Lindsay Wright said.
Sales have rebounded enough that Chrissakis has begun investing in overdue maintenance on the building. In addition, this month marks a significant accomplishment: "There were three credit cards left over from the past regime and I just made the last payment on those," Chrissakis said. "Now the debts are ours and they are very few."
H2O still has some work to do. The board needs more members and volunteers are always welcome.
For more information: www.helpandhopeindallasoregon.org or call 503-831-4736.