Don Bosco Centers on verge of collapse

By Leslie Collins
Northeast News
June 14, 2012

Cars line the parking lot at one of The Don Bosco Centers located at Garfield and Independence Avenue. Kelsey Ainsworth

For more than 70 years, The Don Bosco Centers has been a staple in Historic Northeast.

Now, the non-profit organization appears on the verge of collapse.

Seven key personnel have left, including Executive Director Ben Cascio. Another key employee is expected to resign shortly.

Members of Don Bosco’s Board of Directors are also turning in resignations.

“I don’t see how it can continue on as an entity,” a reliable source connected to Don Bosco told Northeast News. “I think the best opportunity is for other agencies to absorb those clients, those needs and those programs.”

The source cited financial instability and the Board of Director’s failure to fundraise as factors that contributed to Don Bosco’s current situation.

Due to their salaries being in jeopardy, key personnel submitted their resignations, the source said.

“I think it would have been a challenge to meet expenses and payroll. I think there were struggles and a future inability to meet financial obligations.”

The source said Don Bosco’s woes began when the Don Bosco Charter High School permanently closed its doors in May of 2011. Shutting down the school meant losing a major source of unrestricted funds for the community center, the source said. While the center receives a number of grants, those funds are encumbered and can’t be used for items like payroll, utilities and other overhead costs.

When Don Bosco Charter High School was a functioning school, it paid rent to the community center to use its facilities. When the school shut down, so did the funding.

Since the school provided rent for a number of years, the Board of Director’s depended on that revenue and slacked off on fundraising for the center, the source said.

In addition to losing a primary revenue stream, the community center was then left with debt from the charter high school.

“The community center absorbed that debt for whatever reason,” the source said.

Bills piled up from a number of the high school’s vendors, in addition to the teacher salaries that still needed to be paid.

“Over a lengthy period of time, the board did not contribute unrestricted dollars. They didn’t have a fundraising campaign, which was unbelievable. Fundraising is a big part of what any not for profit board would do.”

All of this casts a towering pall over the organization, leaving its future unknown. Will it continue to serve the community, helping families and individuals become self-sufficient? Our source highly doubts it.

Key staff no longer with Don Bosco:
Ben Cascio, executive director
Charity Guerra, human relations director
Sandy Brock, head of accounting
Amos Johnson III of development
Lynn Johnson, director of youth development
Carla Brewer, director of the family support center
Roberta Stubbs, employment specialist and case manager

Above is the Don Bosco Senior Center, 580 Campbell, Kansas City, Mo. Kelsey Ainsworth

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