Over my nearly 50-year career of leading not-for-profit organizations as CEO, and at times as a member of the board of directors, I am very familiar with the kind of challenge that faced the board of the South County Seaside Food Bank.
Board members are charged with both the personnel and fiduciary oversight of the organization. It is the responsibility of the board members to be sure the mission of the organization is carried out and that members of the community for whom the organization is established are being properly served.
In every organization I have served, there have been times when difficult and challenging decisions have to be made to ensure that these responsibilities are being met. One of the significant challenges is working with volunteers who are not employees, and can at times begin to take the organization away from that original mission.
When and if decisions are made to dismiss volunteers, and move to reinstate the organization back to its original mission, it is almost impossible to provide details and information that the public and the press demand. This can become the battle of “he said and she said,” and can become an unending and very damaging dialogue between persons on the board and those aggrieved by the process.
Ultimately, this is where I come down on the controversy: I know the people who are in leadership of the board of directors. These are leaders in our community who have given generously of their time and resources to bring the food bank to the place it is today.
I have confidence in them, and firmly believe that their decisions over the past week were made with careful thought and deliberation, and I understand why they will not, and are not going to participate in a process of responding to allegations and statements in the press that malign their character and leadership.
Some of these board members have reported to the police physical threats and malicious statements regarding their character and honesty. They are all “big people” and will continue to serve in spite of all of this.
Please, Seaside community, a community that prides itself for civility and measured response, let’s step back, take a deep breath and support our food bank as it continues to serve our region, as it has for many years, and will for many years to come.
Jay A. Barber
Mayor of Seaside