A handful of volunteers quit last week in the wake of the removal of organization president Tamara Reed from the board of directors. At the July 19 board meeting, Reed was removed by a 5-2 vote, and HALO Treasurer Wayne Sanderson was appointed president.
Reed, who has been with HALO for nine years – serving two as president, was taken by surprise. “I was in total shock when one of the board members stood up and motioned that I be removed as president,” Reed said. “HALO is a fine-oiled machine. HALO is at the best it’s ever been. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
A press release from HALO Public Relations Director Andrea Stuart states that HALO has “experienced some intense growing pains that were causing the organization to fall short in some areas.” When asked to elaborate on the growing pains and shortfall, Stuart declined to comment.
“We have an obligation to our supporters, volunteers, and to the city to do everything we can to maintain our operations on a professional level,” Stuart said. “Wayne Sanderson (who is a certified public accountant) has the expertise necessary to guide the organization on a path that will enable it to maintain its current programs and ensure its vitality.”
HALO has been rescuing dogs and cats from animal shelters for more than 12 years. Volunteers take in the animals until an adoptive family is found. Last year, the Oakley City Council directed city staff to enter a lease agreement with HALO, allowing the nonprofit to open an adoption center at the former Station 93 fire station. The arrangement is temporary as the city plans to turn the site into a parking facility to accommodate an anticipated increase in traffic as a result of the downtown revitalization plan. But for now, HALO has two years and one month left on its lease.
“The lease is still in place with HALO as an organization, though it appears there have been changes to members of the board,” said Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery. “We will evaluate over time to make sure there is continued compliance with the lease agreement, which expires in August of 2014.”
Several volunteer shift managers at HALO House stepped down from their roles last week, and as a result, youth volunteers have been hesitant to return to the adoption center. Unsure how many volunteers would return for their weekly shifts, Sanderson and wife Joyce, also a board member, moved the 16 dogs living at HALO House to their property on Sellers Avenue until foster families could be found to look after the dogs. Several volunteers report to HALO House to look after the 10 cats that remain at the facility, making sure litter boxes are cleaned and that the cats receive fresh food and water.
Reed returned to HALO House this week to wrap up some unfinished paperwork. She said she asked board members why she was voted out, and their only response was that they had “lost their confidence in her as president.”
“It’s sad. In 48 hours, everything we’ve worked for has been disassembled,” Reed said of the empty shelter. “There are no dogs in the yard. No volunteers loving the cats. It breaks my heart. But what’s most upsetting to me is that we have a wonderful group of volunteers. There is no way we could have accomplished so much without the volunteers.”
Reed urged volunteers to remain committed to HALO for the sake of the animals. Even though she won’t be at HALO House on a day-to-day basis, the dogs and cats of HALO still need volunteers to look after and care for them until they find their forever homes.
Stuart said that the removal of the dogs from HALO House is only temporary, and the dogs will return after an appropriate number of volunteers signs up for shifts.
One of the changes for HALO House under its new leadership is that there will be no evening caretaker to stay with the animals during non-operational hours. Reed’s sister Renee Franceschini was living at HALO House to care for the animals in the evening. The board voted last Thursday to evict Franceschini from HALO House after Reed was removed as president.
Those interested in volunteering with HALO are invited to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about HALO, visit www.eccchalo.org.