Friday, February 18, 2011
EMERGENCY: Save Fort Worth's Paradise Center From The Fort Worth Way
Last night I got an email from Fort Worth's most famous Lone Ranger, Steve Doeung, with the word "Emergency" in the subject line. Steve's wife works at a Fort Worth Community Center which helps people with mental health issues. Last night agents of Tarrant County shut down the Community Center, without warning and for no apparent valid reason, in what seems to me be yet one more instance of the local government behaving badly. Read the Press Release below and you'll likely find yourself feeling a bit disgusted. You reading this who do not live in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, are likely even more appalled, than us who live with the Fort Worth Way...
Press Release for Immediate Distribution
On Thursday Feb. 17, 2011 the CEO and executives of MHMR of Tarrant County, a sub-unit of local government under the County Commissioners Court of Tarrant County, took a shocking and devastating action that could very likely damage the mental health and stability of many citizens living with serious mental illness who are members of Paradise Center Inc., a 501/c/3 nonprofit organization that is run by the very people recovering from serious mental illness and homelessness.
After over a decade of cooperation and of keeping its commitment/contract to provide the "foundational grant" for very effective but rare organization in the whole state of Texas, MHMR of Tarrant County began to exert intense pressure on the organization's only full-time professional staff of almost ten years Teresa Davis (two masters degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) to admit and agree to something that she knew was not true and could jeopardize her organization and her own personal and professional reputation: that Paradise Center Inc. is "just another MHMR program" and that she is just another one of their 1,300 employees who need to submit to their control and "supervision".
MHMRTC ignored our Board of Directors' many attempts to communicate with them to find out why they were pursuing this disturbing course of action and causing emotional distress on Ms. Davis and the people she serves. We implored them to deal with the authorized Board of Directors of Paradise Center.
Instead they decided to exert even more pressure, including the withholding of critical paper goods like toilet paper for the four bathrooms, and culminated in this so called "termination" of Teresa's job.
Essentially, this means that they are reneging on their commitment to fund Paradise Center's operations, including paying her salary and benefits. Their xerox copied letter of the so called termination cited the sole cause for termination being that Ms. Davis did not accept an invitation to meet yesterday with the CEO, Assistant CEO, and MHMR's lawyer. They demanded her immediate evacuation of the taxpayer owned community center and sent four men to come take the keys and take over the building.
The peer leaders of the hundreds of mental health consumers who are members of Paradise Center were angry and tearful as they hurriedly removed their operational supplies like the bingo box they use weekly, the cash register that is used in their snack bar, and the basic supplies they use daily.
The mental health consumer leaders, Board members, and Ms. Teresa Davis will gather today across the street from the little building at 505 S. Jennings Avenue. The building that they have worked so hard for many years to create a haven, a "paradise" for them and others with serious mental illness. The building they have now been suddenly thrown out of.