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Confusion at Haven for Hope over gay donations
QSanAntonio.com, July 2, 2011

The CEO of Haven for Hope says that a miscommunication ended up leaving organizers at Pride San Antonio with the impression that the homeless organization did not want donations from a GLBT group.

Last May, organizers with Pride S.A. contacted Haven for Hope, the city's homeless services campus, in hopes of creating a cross promotional event and collecting donations. The proposal made by Pride S.A. involved bringing recording artist Martha Wash to Haven for Hope as part of her visit to San Antonio to perform on July 2 at the Pride Block Party.

Wash is an advocate for the homeless and recently recorded a music video with a homeless choir titled "I've Got You." Pride San Antonio was so taken with Wash's efforts and video that the theme of the Pride Parade this year is "Stand Up for Hope" in honor of Haven for Hope.

Additionally, Pride S.A. planned to set up a collection box for Haven for Hope at the Block Party.

On Monday, Barcena says he was told by a Haven for Hope employee that senior management did not want any connection with Pride San Antonio made public. Ms. Wash could come for a private tour but no media would be allowed even outside the gates.

Furthermore, Barcena alleges that he was told that it would be better if Pride S.A. did not collect donations for Haven for Hope at the Block Party.

QSanAntonio reached out on Tuesday to former City Councilwoman Pattie Radle, who is on Haven for Hope's board of directors, to ask if she knew why Pride S.A. would be denied even the opportunity to collect donations. Radle offered to get in touch with Haven for Hope CEO George Block.

In an email to Radle and QSanAntonio, Block replied:

I did my best to chase down this miscommunication today. I sincerely apologize for any confusion or lack of courtesy on our part. Please be assured that Haven serves anyone in need - regardless of age, gender, race, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. We also welcome any and all support for Haven for Hope and its members, and sincerely appreciate the offer to collect items for Haven for Hope.

Probably even more importantly, we appreciate Ms. Wash using her celebrity status to help shine a light on the very real problem of homelessness in America today. However, as a nonprofit that relies heavily on financial contributions to keep our doors open, we do try to refrain from publicly aligning ourselves with any particular religious, political or special interest group. (As an example, our chapel is non-denominational and we serve all faiths on campus - refraining from publicly aligning ourselves with any one faith tradition.)

Like most public rallies, a Gay Pride Block Party will attract ardent supporters & equally ardent detractors. Since we serve both groups and rely on donations from both groups, it would be our preference to host Ms. Wash for a personal tour of campus, rather than participate in a public event.

In the interim, Wash decided not to accept the offer of a personal tour of Haven for Hope and at press time Pride S.A.'s James Poindexter arranged a tour of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation for her, then Wash went on to the Cornyation check distribution ceremony at Hope Action Care.

After receiving Block's response Poindexter asked Radle if she could convey a question to him. The question was "If a bunch of us showed up at Haven for Hope to volunteer wearing Gay Pride t-shirts, would the CEO, George Block, let us on campus."

Radle says she called Block who said, "Certainly! In fact it helps us. We have so many different groups coming on campus and have so many people on the campus, so it helps us know who is who. He said there are volunteers on the campus with shirts related to the gay community all the time because they come on campus to do aids testing and other things."

Block also clarified Haven for Hope's policy regarding publicity. "He mentioned that recently the AARP group did a big collection for Haven for Hope and they wanted to engage H4H in their publicity, but H4H did not," Radle wrote in an email to QSanAntonio.

Guilt by association
QSanAntonio.com, July 2, 2011

In doing research for the Haven for Hope story, QSanAntonio uncovered an instance in which a local homeless charity did not want to publicly acknowledge donations from a gay business. Last year, SAMMinistries told a gay restaurant that it would accept their donations of food but the donation had to remain private.

Rodd Smunk, proprietor of the now-closed Bloomin' Bistro told QSanAntonio that everyday he would deliver to SAMMinistries all of the food leftover from his noon-time buffet. SAMMinistries was happy to get the daily portion of 100 pounds of prepared food.

However, when Smunk asked if his donation could be acknowledged publicly, SAMMinistries officials said no. The association of SAMMinistries with a gay business would offend many of their donors Smunk was told. Bloomin' Bistro could keep sending its food but it had to be anonymously.

Smunk says that not long after he severed his ties to SAMMinistries they solicted a donation of several gallons of soup from him for an event they were planning.