Wells House dropped from United Way list

January 07, 1998

Wells House dropped from United Way list


Staff Writer

Wells House, a halfway house for recovering alcohol and drug abusers in Hagerstown, has been cut from the list of Washington County's United Way agencies after almost two decades.

According to Melinda Marsden, vice president for agency relations for United Way of Washington County, Md., United Way chose not to renew its affiliation agreement with the nonprofit agency because it "couldn't comply with affiliation requirements."

Those requirements included providing paperwork, including a copy of its audit and certain program information, and to participate in United Way's annual fund-raising campaign, Marsden said.


"It's not that we think they're doing anything that's not right, but we can't fulfill our fiduciary responsibility to our donors" without agency accountability, she said.

Wells House, which houses men coming out of residential alcohol and drug treatment programs at its North Locust Street facility, had been a United Way agency since 1980.

The agency didn't apply for funding for 1998, Marsden said.

Wells House didn't submit financial information and other paperwork required under the affiliation agreement in 1997 because its leaders weren't getting answers from United Way about why the agency saw a marked reduction in its funding from 1996 to 1997, said Wells House Director Bob Ripple.

Its funding from United Way dropped from $7,500 in 1996 to $2,400 in 1997, Ripple said.

"We weren't going to do it for $2,400. It's an immense amount of paperwork," he said.

The agency didn't participate in the United Way campaign last year for the same reason, Ripple said.

There was a lack of communication between United Way and Wells House officials, Marsden said.

For several months, she tried to set up meetings with Wells House board members to discuss the funding situation but was never able to arrange one, she said.

United Way reduced the funding because of problems it had been having for several years with the agency not submitting necessary paperwork and not participating in training activities and United Way's annual fund-raising campaign, Marsden said.

Marsden said she suspected Wells House leaders felt the paperwork wasn't worth doing for the amount of funding the agency received in recent years.

Five or six years ago, it was getting about $30,000 in United Way funds annually, she said.

Prior to 1997, Wells House complied with all of the affiliation agreement's terms, Ripple said.

While the Wells House could use United Way funding, losing it isn't going to affect its services, Ripple said.

The 12-bed halfway house, which opened in 1976, is primarily state funded, he said.

United Way of Washington County, Md., funds 24 agencies, Marsden said.

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