Friday, September 12, 2008

SoPo Bikes and the Whole Foods fundraiser

I posted the following as a comment to a Creative Loafing post. SoPo Bicycle Cooperative worked with the Task Force for the Homeless and Whole Foods on the fundraiser which the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance pressured Whole Foods to cancel. SoPo wants the fundraiser rescheduled. My comments are below:
I'm sure Sopo Bicycle Cooperative's idea is well intentioned. I'm all for helping people get jobs and get to them. The issue has nothing to do with Sopo Bicycle Cooperative, but with the organization they have chosen to partner with.

They should choose to work with a reputable organization, such as the United Way's Regional Commission on Homelessness or the Gateway Center. These organizations have a much better track record actually helping people, which Creative Loafing has chronicled.

There is a reason that the Task Force is no longer eligible for federal or city funding - they do not provide effective assistance to homeless, they refuse to cooperate with other regional care providers (notice they are not involved with the Regional Commission, and they have worked in the past to undermine it), and their presence is a blight on the local community.

Also, can someone clarify for me if Paideia high school itself is involved, or if the intern is simply a student there?
UPDATE: I also sent the following email to Whole Foods, and cc'ed the SoPo folks. I don't want y'all to think I'm trying to torpedo you or be sneaky. Please try to work with the United Way or the Gateway Center! I think your program makes a lot of sense. I just (obviously) have a problem with the Task Force.

The email:
Thomas Wheatley
date Fri, Sep 12, 2008 at 12:33 AM
subject Thank you for canceling the Task Force fundraiser


Ms. Sifford,

I am a lifelong resident of Virginia Highlands who shops regularly at Whole Foods (I probably drink a bottle of 365 Sparkling Water a day). I wanted to thank your for working with the Midtown and Ponce neighborhoods to cancel the fundraiser for the Task Force for the Homeless. While I think SoPo Bicycle Cooperative's idea to help homeless volunteers commute is well intentioned, I applaud Whole Foods for realizing that working with the Task Force would harm their standing among the local community.

There is a reason that the Task Force is no longer eligible for federal or city funding - they are not a reputable organization. Other organizations, such as the United Way's Regional Commission on Homelessness and the city's Gateway Center, provide much more effective assistance for homeless persons who seek help. Even among many homeless, the Task Force shelter at Peachtree and Pine is considered a drug trap. In addition, the Task Force has consistently worked to undermine the Regional Commission, and has very negative relations with its neighbors, the Midtown and Downtown communities.

I wholeheartedly suggest that Whole Foods and SoPo Bicycle Cooperative work with the United Way or the Gateway Center to reschedule this fundraiser, and thank you once again for responding to the community's concerns regarding the Task Force.


Ben King

cc:Sopo Bicycle Cooperative

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