My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Birch Community Services Inc, Portland, OR, USA
While Birch has a wonderful impact on the community and those it serves there are many people skills it is lacking. The treatment of all volunteers is generally good but on some occasions the behavior of the director especially and sometimes specific employees has come into question.
The director can be too specific with clients and actually feel the need to discipline them by meeting with them specifically/confronting them with a "witness" (usually her bestfriend). This makes the client feel picked on. Sometimes she seems to literally stalk a person as they shop to make sure they are following guidelines (specific persons at times). This is very awkward and makes the client have no dignity. Also, this director has been known to really upset people needlessly (people have been noted crying in the break room). I have directly seen the impact on families that have been dismissed or "replaced" by other families loose their sense of well being in a mere day. One miniute the family was a great part of the organization and being greatly blessed and then the next day they are gone. This is really sad when this organization should at least give the family a reason for their dismissal and a notice.
Some in the organization are favored like the directors and office staff to get food boxes made for them and be given the newest nice furniture as a reward. It should be a fair system where "Everything" is a drawing done by the clients not assets distributed to any of the employees including the directors and employees. This organization needs an outside management not influenced by the director or anyone on the board of directors to maintain its integrity and the utmost standards of honesty. Clients here actually pay " dues" so they technically pay the salaries and bonus of all staff. This should come with the utmost integrity and NO taking of the goods for themselves unless they too are participants and happen to win a client led drawing! Outside management is highly advised! The staff is payed a fair wage and should be held to the utmost highest standard in operation.
Office staff has been overheard gossiping about numerous families within the office context where all can be overheard by others. This is unfair and cruel to those participants who have overheard themselves being spoken about in a gossip fashion. The women in the office including the director need to learn more tact in serving the working poor! Favortism for any family for any reason is unacceptable! Security is lacking in the facility to make sure children, especially are safe at all times. No background checks are given on any of the volunteer/participant childcare providers. Criminal elements have been noted in the childcare area while dropping off their kids and sometimes helping in childcare facility.
The overall plan of the non-profit does work to help the working poor. The manners of the company could be greatly improved!
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Have background checks provided by an outside source to maintain security and privacy of the client volunteer. Have all childcare workers be cpr /first aid certified. Maintain people behavior clinics to help all the staff learn how to kindly work with the clients so as not to offend them and give them the utmost sense of well being. (This includes the director and board of directors). Clean up their act in security and fairness for product distribution.
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I am pleased this reviewer believes Birch Community Services (BCS) is having a wonderful impact on the community and those we serve. We understand, however, that some we serve may not always have a wonderful experience. While we wish it wasn’t the case for anyone, including this past participant, a few points of clarification are needed.
It is BCS policy and practice that all participants dismissed from our program be reviewed by a team comprised of senior BCS staff. Most dismissals are due to participants who fail to pay their monthly dues, volunteer regularly, and/or follow warehouse safety and equitability procedures. Participants who are dismissed may appeal their dismissal in writing to the Review Committee, at which time the file and notes are taken into consideration. Board members may be consulted in this process.
Child supervision is provided in a room next to the BCS office with a full window viewable to office staff and program participants. Parents are required to sign their child in and out and are required to take their own children to the restroom. Regular children’s overseers have agreed to and passed a background check.
Staff of BCS do not receive preferential treatment. All staff are also members of the BCS program or are shopping volunteers and are required to volunteer extra hours (beyond the hours they work) and to pay the monthly fee just as other participants/volunteers do. Employees are allowed to shop for the food they need in their homes. They are not given preferred access to non-food items and do participate along with all program participants in monthly raffles for special items.
We value constructive input and work to cultivate a culture of learning at BCS. In 2013, program participants and other community volunteers donated 33,000 hours to distribute 7,145,721 pounds of donated food and clothing to families in need.
We’re humbled and grateful to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Suzanne Birch, Executive Director - Birch Community Services, Inc.