Friday, November 1st, 2019 | Shane Harris founder of People’s Alliance for Justice and Pat Bevlyn founder of Project Save Our Children addressed the National Urban League’s leadership Ray King and Herman Collins (communications director); its fiscal sponsor. They met to discuss with county representatives present, the sudden move of a very successful program called Cultural Brokers; advocacy for keeping families together who are facing problems with the County of San Diego in the departments of foster care and child protective service.
This system has been egregious to African American San Diego families so says the data.
In my op-ed, I stated the community betrayal runs deep. When I spoke with Bro. Hameed (Director of the BCA) where the rent was paid (all 8 years) for the Cultural Broker program, through the fiscal agent via the County of San Diego, Bro Hameed told SDMNEWS he was just as baffled by the 30-day notice.
This notice, of course, did not trickle down to the Cultural Broker advocates, nor their clients. The irritation, however, is not about the move per se, it’s the treatment and lack of engagement of those who have dedicated 9 years of their time and energy, and the disregard from the NUL leadership.
The decision to move this service and the location where the clients are so comfortable and thriving is simply displacement. From the view of Ms. Bevlyn, her concern was more about the breach of the verbal agreement to keep the location of the Cultural Broker program in the 92114 zip code where the clients live and dwell.
The program’s services support and advocates on behalf of the largest under-served population as well as the largest group of foster children in the county; African American San Diegans.
The Cultural Broker’s program re-location Mr. King has in mind is the same location as his headquarters and is also the same location of CPS (child protective services). So, imagine you are taken to jail, treated unfairly, and when finally being treated fairly in a location with advocates that are supportive you now have to receive those services and in order to get what you need, you must go to a location that houses the precinct of your arresting officers, yeah right!
During Friday’s meeting, Ray King listened, in my assessment, as much as he could. Unfortunately, he appeared very unattached to the client’s words as they appealed that the geographical area in which clients receive services and their ability to gather in an environment where they are comfortable is and has been the key to their personal and the program’s success.
“Why Now, Mr. Harris asked?” Mr. Collins stated that “The National Urban League San Diego desires to make the program more competitive.” Mr. Harris goes onto say “It’s the fourth quarter here, the program comes to a close in July 2020, why disrupt a client base that is doing well?” Steven Coaxum, a parent client of the Cultural Broker program says “if it ain’t broke why fix it.”
As the meeting went on, it was clear that the energy had dropped as Mr. King had a back and forth rant when Mr. Coaxum asked him “have you come over to see the program in action?” Mr. King stated he had. Then Mr. Coaxum goes on to say that in all three years he had never seen him, Mr. King became agitated arguing he had attended, although when introductions were made and throughout the meeting Mr. King did not seem to have met any of the program’s clients before.
I believe, in that short hour of trying to get clarity as to why, the meeting needed to happen in the first place, especially after the shoe dropped announcing the clients won’t be forced to get services or attend a weekly meeting at the NUL location and could still do so, wherever they want to, so the question remains why move the program at all? Why put your organization through the risk of bad press?
Pat Bevlyn approached the notion that the move could be about money, to which Mr. king denied, but then he begins to list a few fundraising events they have in the works, which was weird.
So to sum this up: Everything CB clients are accustom to having for the last 8 years has been disrupted for nothing. the NUL says CB clients can stay in 92114, since you guys made it a big deal of us moving you, and by the way, we are not going to allocate the taxpayer funds to pay for your rent anymore, so take upon yourself to find another place, and you don’t have to come here if you don’t want to…WOW!
As the meeting came to a close, Mr. Harris in his trademark fashion stated to the group and directly to Mr. King and Mr. Collins, “if we don’t come to a fair and proactive solution, where these clients can finish this program with the full benefits they are accustomed to getting, how and where they are getting them, I will stop at nothing to make sure that happens” and folks we know what that means!
The San Diego Monitor-News has been serving Black San Diego since 1986