Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Can Now Visit The Paradise Center Website & Make a Donation

Many people have asked about the Paradise Center website. Many people have also asked how they can make a donation to help the Paradise Center.

Both questions can now be answered. The links in the above paragraph are the answer to those two questions.

Last week Paradise Center sent out an email to "Friends of Paradise Center, Inc." asking friends of Paradise Center to get in touch, via email.

Wednesday, Paradise Center sent out an email response to the folks who responded. Below is that email....

Mr. Jones,

Thanks for voicing your support of the mental health consumers who operate Paradise Center, Inc.

It has been a tough couple of months. Overnight, Paradise Center's status as a thriving, respected, funded organization was stripped away. Suddenly, we were homeless, and at times, it seemed friendless.

Although I group myself with the organization, it was very clear that MHMRTC intended it to be only a personnel decision. I was facing unemployment, character assassination, and what I call "professional leprosy".

But I didn't face it alone. The cohesive, unified group of mental health consumers gave me courage to go on, even when the days seemed bleak.

MHMRTC did not count on the absolute tenacity of the consumers who, within 3 business days, forced them to stop telling the public that Paradise Center still inhabits the building and that it was "business as usual".

They spoke out about the truth: MHMRTC had terminated our grant, without notice. They locked us out of the building that contained all of our possessions and had been our home for over 13 years.

They didn't just fire me; they ended the good relationship we enjoyed with them and other mental health organizations in the area.

So now, Paradise Center, Inc., has gone from a small non-profit with financial and public support of MHMR, NAMI, and Tarrant County Hospital District (TCHD) to, well, a small non-profit.

We had a budget of about $150,000, with 95% of that budget directly from MHMRTC and TCHD. Now, we have a budget supported 100% by individual supporters.

About 6 weeks ago, I sent emails to 6 family members and friends. They donated and pledged enough to lease a building and give Paradise Center a new home. Our coffers aren't full, but we have hope.

But we need your help now.

Although we'll have fundraisers and seek grants, 70% of our budget will be met with donations from individuals like you.

Anyone who knows me knows how uncomfortable I am asking for money. Can you remember the last time you received an email from Paradise Center asking for monetary donations? Yep, the answer is almost never.

But we need your help now.

Every donation will go 100% toward the daily programs of Paradise Center. At this time, I am an "unpaid full-time staff member". Although the goal of the Board of Directors is to eventually hire me as an employee, I am committed to helping Paradise Center raise enough money for operational expenses for 3 years.

The total amount is $100,000 for 3 years. After we reach that goal, then the Board will consider their personnel choices.

We have fundraisers in the works and some grants we're working on.

But we need your help now.

Here's how you can help:
  1. Make a financial donation today. You can donate by calling our Center, sending us a check, or using PayPal or your credit card on our webpage,
  2. Tell your friends, co-workers, and family members about Paradise Center and ask them to consider supporting our organization. 
  3. "Like" and "Friend" us on Facebook. I am amazed at the number of people just one person can tell about our organization through social media. 
  4. Volunteer to help with a fundraiser. We are a 100% volunteer organization. There is plenty of room at the table for YOU. 
  5. Check our "Wish List" on our webpage. If you can't make a financial donation, maybe you can make an in-kind donation. We update this list regularly, so check often to see how you can help.
Thank you for your support of mental health consumers of Paradise Center. Without the support of friends like you, our organization would not have hope for our future.

Please call to offer well wishes or to ask questions about the last two months. We really want to hear from our friends!

Teresa Davis
Paradise Center, Inc.
friends helping friends in mental health recovery
office: 817-348-0911
address: 525 S. Henderson Street, Fort Worth, TX 76104

All donations to Paradise Center, Inc. are tax deductible and are acknowledged with a donation form acceptable for tax uses. Please indicate with your donation if your prefer to remain anonymous and/or if you prefer not to be listed on our webpage as a supporter.


nonprofit accountant said...

The Paradise folks are being way to modest about the actual cost to operate their unique consumer-led organization and its array of activities and services. The $150K grant "from" MHMR-TC (actually mostly money from the county and hospital taxing districts) is in reality barely even half of their actual operating budget because they rely on almost a thousand volunteer hours and ten@ of thousands of dollars from small donations of various kinds !along with numerous fund raisers
conducted by the members throughout the year.

Much of the 60%+ of their actual operational costs were made possible by their legal status as a nonprofit, with exemptions from the state for taxes and more significantly the benefits from the Feds by being recognized as a charity under the IRS (Code 501, c, 3).

This fact was a major factor in Ms. Davis' firm refusal to give in to MHMR-TC leadership's relentless pressure to get her to go along with their scheme of denying Paradise Center's true nature and to essentially lie to everyone by stating and behaving in ways to support their claim that "Paradise Center is just another MHMR program" subject to their complete control, which was critical to their business partnership with profit-driven BRAVO Health Medicai HMO.

For Ms. Davis, to assent to the lie meant betraying her own personal and
professional code of ethics as well as
opening the successful consumer-run
nonprofit and herself for potentially
serious legal and financial
consequences ...a consideration that
MHMR-TC has repeatedly shown little
concern for in this particularly matter
and others, especially their creation
and "ownership " of a 501.c.3 called
MHMR Visions which appears to many
in the nonprofit field to be used as mostly a tool forPR and for exerting influence on local political figures and entities since even the staff at the alleged "at risk programs" do not really think that their programs are at risk of shutting down since they provide essential and unique services. In fact,
Visions had solicited so much money that was just stashed away in their bank account that their Board of
Directors began to look around for
deserving nonprofits serving the needs of people with MHMR or MR issues.

The one organization that kept popping up was 'consumer-run Paradise Center Inc. Despite strenuous interference
from CEO McDermott, who is somehow listed as the President of Visions, the volunteer Board members overruled his improper manipulation and gave a $10,000.00 grant to Paradise Center in mid-2009. They
were so pleased with the use and detailed reporting of every penny spent that the Board was ready to give another grant in mid-2010.

It was their secret deal (at least for the
nonprofit focused on their mission anyways)with profit-driven BRAVO Health and the loss of complete control over the Visions Board that were the driving forces behind Jim McDermott and the MHMR-TC leadership's
RECKLESS and damaging course of
action that brought them to where they
are presently, mired in public suspicion
and employee resentment as well as
legal action by the parties their
intentional conduct (or misconduct) had injured.

It's very ironic that the MHMR-TC machinery has the temerity to attempt to defame Ms. Davis by insinuating to various people that her shocking termination was due to misappropriation of that Visions grant. The legal process will surely expose even more dishonesty on the part of people given the public trust, not of just tax dollars but of behaving properly toward employees and the disabled clients.

CatsPaw said...

Bravo - absolutely no pun intended - nonprofit accountant!

My question ... IS there anything happening in the legal arena? Because, so far, with major media outlets ignoring this story for the last two months, "public suspicion" and awareness seems pretty much limited to readers of this blog.

Some of us here were just DurangoTexas readers with no affiliation or direct connection to Paradise Center, but who reacted ("I'm mad as hell ...") in defense of the underdogs in an apparently unjust action -- people who dislike bullying tactics, especially "corporate" bullying; apparent misuse of public and charitable funds; and enrichment of individuals who are supposed to serve the public trust while people who have no power struggle in need of services.

I know it's hard to speak up when you're worried about keeping your job, but it seems we need MORE insiders to spill some (factual) beans to raise the clamor.

Anonymous said...

I second your points CatsPaw. From what some who are in the know said, (1) "most of the right people are reading this blog which what counts in the strategic plan" and (2) because these people have knowledge and chose to do nothing it will open up multiple points of attack, legally and politically; and (3) hopefully result in sweeping changes in not just personnel but in more effective public policies that benefit the whole community, and possibly the whole state.

I get the impression that some heavyweights are working
behind the scene to help this little group fight and win this battle for their rights and due respect while working on an even bigger objective.

Strategy and timing seem to be their strength. I know for one that the POD holding the highjacked properties of the organization was strategically brilliant.

Micheal G. said...

What a timely victory for this little nonprofit. Despite great odds and a ruthless adversary, the organization most have given up for dead is still alive.

I will try to make up for my poor judgment in not supporting Paradise Center by urging my friends and family and business acquaintances to donate to help make sure that this victory over, well, evil would last for a very long time and that Paradise will continue to help many many of our fellow citizens and God's precious children.

The Lord does help the weak and weary...especially if they have faith, hope, and love. What an illustration of the message that is in the Easter Celebration.

taxed-n-po'ed said...

we'll definitely donate some of our tax refund to help the victims of this bullying and abuse, especially hope they will use some of the money to sue every one of those perps' a***** off. big time so they won't even think about doing something like that again. we'll hold those county commissioners accountable too come election time b/c they're the grow-ups, so to speak.

curious cpa said...

Maybe the IRS or some Texas state agency should look into the creative accounting that Jim McDermott 's MHMR-TC has been doing with their so-called grant to the nonprofit consumer organization Paradise Center Inc.

Friends in the nonprofit accounting sector had made passing reference over the years about the iffy financial statements that MHMR-TC gave to the nonprofit for its annual tax filing. One pro expressed relief when they were no longer involved with the "unorthodox" arrangements that the agency imposed on the consumer-run organization along with the "iffy" expenses that were charged to the grant, such as debt servicing fees related to the bond program (and refinancing) to build the community center that's been quietly and gradually taken away from the consumers and their social organization and turned into a massive clinic that combines formerly three different clinics located in different parts of the community.

There's always been unspoken questions about how Jim McDermott and his government agency were treating and "using" the consumer nonprofit organization.

Now might be the time to ask those open and probing questions.

Happy Easter said...

On this Easter Sunday, please consider this biblical passage when reflecting on the players and their actions in this whole stinky scandal.

" A good man out of the good treasures of the heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things". Matthews 12:35

Lois C. said...

We wish someone would look into that takeover of the bond-funded community center at 300 Pennsylvania Ave. We remember voting for it since the 9,000 or so square feet building would offer a safe place for people like our neighbors who were disabled by mental illness. Well, we moved away and returned three years later to find out that MHMR-TC had taken it over and put a clinic and offices in there. The people apparently were quietly pushed away into the old little building right behind it on Jennings. Then we just found out about this hostile takeover of even the tiny place this February. It seems the MHMR top dogs keep pushing and pushing because they know people with mental illness are weak and won't say anything in protest.

The comment about MHMR paying for their fancy office tower off of the theft of the community center building does seem to make more sense, especially after seeing how easily MHMR mistreated the Paradise group and how the CEO isn't the honest and kind person he's been wanting the public to think.

The G Family said...

I stopped by to drop off some donation at the new Paradise Center last week and was pleased to see about a dozen of the leaders and members busily trimming the hedges and putting things that had been boxed up. They looked very happy and said that they really like the new place very much, especially with the freedom from MHMR in terms of their use of the facility.

Teresa Davis wasn't there because she and a couple of leaders were meeting with lawyers I was told. The leaders also reported that as an organization NAMI of Tarrant County has not even contacted them at all. But various members have, some have been quietly providing support all along, which is a good sign that all's not lost for the advocacy organization.

Despite all the shock, pain, and betrayals these people have endured they seem very resilient and united. And very optimistic about the future.

Change the FW Way said...

Some of our local tax dollars should go toward keeping this organization going since it has apparently shown over the years that it helps hundreds of people stay well mentally, socially, and even physically (they notice problems and get needed attention), which in turn means financial savings to our community.

And doing so will enable the organization to help improve the quality of life and public perception of the whole community. Just like investments in the education and enrichment of our children make the community attractive for businesses and families, such little financial support for this group's work is a great investment for the perception of our community as well.

Remember the expression about the quality of a community or society is often based on how it treats its weakest members.

So far, Fort Worth and Tarrant County are getting just a passing mark in this respect. On the other hand, the community is summa cum laude, if not Valedictorian, when it comes to preferential treatment for the wealthy and the politically connected.

hulen tower moles said...

We MHMR-TC employees recall the CEO making statements, both verbal and written, several times over the years that "as long as I'm here, Paradise Center will get the necessary funding to continue operations". Wonder how he's going to keep his word? We have a feeling it will be via some kind of legal instrument.

Man, MHMR-TC has a savvy law firm providing it with sound legal counsel...the same lawyers and firm guiding Haltom City throughout its scandal with the economic development fund scheme that was reported by the FW Weekly last week. Small county, isn't it?

Donna said...

Getting lawyers involved would really be the easy way out for the MHMR Gangstas. This growing exposure of their shady ways is like a big spotlight focused on them in their dark corner doing their dirty deeds. Maybe a few more weeks or even months of this kind of public exposure would do everyone good.

Some MHMR-TC friends joked that Jimbo had sent out emails first thing Monday telling people working in the Hulen Tower to be on the lookout for "Six Seals" heading for his secret place on the Third floor. Some kind of joke based on current events or something like that.

Is the dude losing it? Scared of six seals??

Biker Buddy said...

I wonder if Paradise Center Inc. ever got the roughly thousand dollars that was raised by a local bike racing club. I've participated in this charity event in the past two years because the leader of the sponsoring club was a former MHMR case manager who thought the world of the good work that the little nonprofit organization was doing to help improve the lives of hundreds of people having serious mental health problems.

Would someone verify if the funds raised just a few weeks before the coup of Paradise ever got to them, instead of being shanghaied by the MHMR robbers now occupying the former home of Paradise? ?

I wouldn't mind helping organize another biking type event to benefit this deserving, and clearly mistreated group. I was so impressed with the dedication of the group as they helped the organizers so much on the day of the event, getting there first and looked like they stayed until the whole thing was completely wrapped up. That kind of attitude and work ethic make me want to help them even more, especially raising money to pay legal fees to bring the bullycrats to justice and pay for what they did. If I were a lawyer, I'd handle their case pro bono, not because I would get tons of positive publicity (very valuable) but because it's the just and right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

WHeeeeeeeeee! It's so sweet! Seeing Teresa Davis out of the old Building!!!!!!

Concerned Sister said...

It looks like the McDermott Gang are off their psych meds...on on something that's not recommended by physicians. They may need a civil commitment if they continue acting this coo-koo. Pathetic but sad to see.

scandal follower said...

I believe I read somewhere that the so called grant from MHMR-TC was actually a contract with the nonprofit to provide the psychosocial day program for the many MHMR-TC clients who needed this essential component to the recovery process.

This fact might explain why MHMR was so bound and determined to prevent the nonprofit group from continuing to exist, among them were defamatory statements directed at the group's leader Teresa Davis and prevention of advocacy groups like NAMI-TC or individuals like the Rainbow Lounge's J.R. and the Moritz Bike Racing club from providing any kind of aid to the nonprofit organization ....BECAUSE MHMR AND IT'S ATTORNEY KNOW THAT IF THE ORGANIZATION SURVIVES THIS CRIME IT WILL LIKELY TAKE ACTION NECESSARY TO RECOVER THE RIGHTS AND PROPERTIES BELONGING TO IT INCLUDING THE $150K A YEAR CONTRACT PAYMENT AND ALL THE DAMAGES SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF MHMR-TC.