Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/1225309

Cape senior center employees speak out

By Bernita Hackney & Linda Bonville | Aug 15, 2014

We are writing in response to recent letters concerning the Cape Henlopen Senior Center in the Aug. 8 edition of the Cape Gazette.

First, we would like to clarify that we work four days a week and not “three days” that was quoted in one article. Our normal working hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was stated that “we race for the door at 3 p.m.” There are some days that we do not leave promptly at 3 p.m. That is an insult and hearsay. It was stated that Leslie works many days past 3 p.m. That is due strictly to poor time management on her part.

It also states that new changes are being implemented by our new director. What changes? What new fundraisers? New programs that Leslie implemented were Circuit Fitness Training and Dr. Judith Pierson workshops. She spearheaded our annual golf tournament last year, which was a success, but failed to focus on it this year, which led to it being cancelled. In turn the center is losing $10,000 which has been proposed in our operating budget.

For the past four years our ridership has increased on our bus due to the excellent trips planned by Theresa Shaffer. We are thankful that we were awarded a new 2014 bus this year.

We have always planned wonderful trips; i.e., art museums, dinner shows, malls, etc. As for planning these trips, we now have a trip committee consisting of four members, which was originally done solely by Theresa Shaffer. This was a tremendous task to undertake.

Our bimonthly newsletter is formatted and done by a wonderful volunteer who commits her time faithfully and I, Bernita, program coordinator, have implemented many new and exciting programs - tai chi, yoga, hobbies for men, drama club, balance and strength class, sit and get fit exercise class, Spanish, music lessons, educational/workshops, health fair, just to name a few.

Volunteers are a great asset to our center, and we cannot operate without them. Five of our older volunteers were asked to leave because they did not meet Leslie’s qualifications. One volunteer who comes for the summer was told she could no longer volunteer. Why? Is this fair?

As for race and color, this should not enter into this situation. Are we being targeted as two black employees who are causing this problem? The truth of the matter is that the board of directors knows where the problem lies. Don’t put the blame on us. Cape Henlopen Policy and Procedure states that the use of profanity is not permissible, as well as the use of alcohol or illegal substance while on duty. The consequence is termination.

If the CHSC adopted these policies, then they should be for all employees and the same action taken for all. Did the board of directors abide by the policies? No. Do they realize the consequences the senior center could be facing?

Do we need an executive director? This statement was not made by us, and we are being accused.

I, Linda, can truly say that I have been employed at the senior center for almost 36 years; and I, Bernita, for 24 years, and have always enjoyed working at the center. We have never had such a hostile working environment until our new executive director came in 2013. We cannot voice our opinion or concerns about issues or we will be written up and threatened to be terminated. Is this a democratic government? How do you expect us to work in this environment?

Leslie demanded a $3,000 increase in pay. When our former executive director retired, Bernita and I filled in for the vacant position and fulfilled our duties as well. Yes, we were compensated, $250 each for the entire three months, and in turn we had to take a different health insurance plan which we are paying higher copays, and prescriptions cost more out of pocket.This is saving the center $12,000.

Membership: For the past 10 years our membership has grown steadily, due to the wonderful programs and trips. It was stated that our membership is 1,054. I can recall that our membership roster was over 1,200, and that was before Leslie came.

In closing, it was stated that we did not accept Leslie as our new boss. That was a false statement. We welcomed Leslie until things begin to change and our eyes began to see that her mission was to get rid of our older volunteers; bring in her friends whom she could control, and eventually get rid of the staff. Our mission at Cape Henlopen Senior Center is to provide social, physical and emotional support to senior citizens; helping them to maintain their independence; improve their quality of life and cope with the life changes associated with growing older with dignity and without degradation.

Are we being inclusive of all races, marital status, age, creed, color, sex, handicap, disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and natural origin? Or are we striving to be become an “elite” senior center?

Bernita Hackney
program coordinator
Linda Bonville
bookkeeper
Cape Henlopen Senior Center

 

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