Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Charity Stampede

Our NGO was a private/public operation in support of military veterans and was supported by taxes. We were very creative one year. We allowed certain unemployed vets to drive our entire fleet of vans used regularly to transport the ailing to the vets hospital. They were commissioned to carry the aged and the infirm to Thanksgiving meals, or wherever else they needed to go. It was very well received, this idea, and we smiled for the photographer from the local paper. That's us, doing good, was the expression.

First, we lost track of the drivers and their vehicles. Nobody was keeping strict accounts of their travels, and now we had no account of any of them. Also, we became aware the credit cards issued to the drivers were not tracked. We did not know how to monitor them. Perhaps we would have to wait until the bills at the end of the month. We really were not a top-notch organization.

The reports in the news informed us the vet drivers had wandered off the reservation considerably. Apparently they were moving bodies to where they needed to be. One story featured a move for an impoverished family back to the old homestead over two states. Another news item featured a nest of runaways in San Francisco who were escorted back to their native habitats. (Running away is thrilling at first until the cold and the ragged hunger and fear set in.) Any number of children were saved this way.

All of the news was positive, only we were expecting that coming from the bank at the end of the month not to be. We fretted, but who wants to rain on a victory parade? Everywhere was smiling on us. We done good. We just could never expect to pay for it. But we didn't let on.

None of our superior authorities cared to mess in our business. What they wanted to do was empower and enable the lost and lonesome and hope trouble never came home to roost. Minorities and the disabled and veterans were all granted roles in the organizations set up for their welfare, for not to do so would imply some sort of ism. So we weren't bothered - like the kid drunk for the first time at a Worlds Fair who jumped from a tall building such as he had never seen before. Folks on the second floor heard him muttering as he dropped by outside, "So far, so good."

We were not, after all, so very different than Wall Street. We were investing heavily with somebody else's treasure and when it all crashed down, well, the public would pick up the pieces. We encouraged one another with that rationale. It was the only one we had.

Meanwhile, nothing was heard from the drivers nor their vehicles except for the various news repoorts. Regular rides to the VA Hospital were suspended. The reports were coming in from farther and farther afield.