Springfield, MA: Lutheran Social Services responds to Mayor’s criticism

Update on our post earlier today!

It’s not us putting refugees into slum housing! (Must be one of the other contractors)

That’s what a brief statement on behalf of their President Angela Wallingford Bovill says in response to the letter Mayor Sarno sent to Barbara Day at the US State Department in which the Mayor asked for what amounts to a moratorium on resettlement of refugees in Springfield.   Here is the letter (they say a more detailed response is in the works).  Hat tip: Joanne

Good afternoon,

Angela Bovill CEO of LSS of New England
Photo: Worcester Business Journal

The following statement is sent on behalf of Angela Bovill, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of New England. This statement is made in response to Mayor Domenic Sarno’s letter to Barbara Day in the U.S. State Department regarding refugee resettlement in Springfield, MA:

“Lutheran Social Services of New England (LSS) recognizes the City of Springfield as a supportive partner in humanitarian programs that help resettle refugees fleeing from unsafe homelands. Over the years, we have developed a solid working relationship with the City of Springfield and its various departments to successfully resettle newcomers to the Greater Springfield area.

LSS is aware of Mayor Sarno’s recent concerns about refugee housing conditions, and we have investigated the properties in question. LSS does not place any refugees in uninhabitable residences or unsafe conditions, and regularly monitors its clients during their resettlement period. Currently, LSS resettles less than 40 percent of its refugee clients to the City of Springfield.

We also want to acknowledge that several statements made in Mayor Sarno’s letter to Barbara Day in the U.S. State Department are inaccurate. LSS will respond to these statements in a letter with supporting facts sent to the Mayor’s office. We will continue to work collaboratively with local and state authorities to identify the best possible solutions for the City and its refugee families.”

Thank you.

Jodie Justofin

Vice President

Strategic Marketing & Communications

Lutheran Social Services of New England

14 East Worcester Street, Suite 300

Worcester, MA 01604

Angela Bovill

The Worcester Business Journal interviewed  LSS’s CEO Angela Bovill just this past June and here are a few things she said.

When asked if her previous experience in business helps LSS, she responded:

This is a business. Yes it is a nonprofit, but (in) a nonprofit, it’s even more critical that you understand how to manage it like it needs to be managed. We have 1,600 employees across six states. It’s a very complicated business, so if you don’t have the business background to run it, I’m not sure how you could succeed.

When asked what social issues are the most troubling to her, she candidly says they don’t have enough money from the government to do the job properly!


I think the most troubling is the funding source for the social issues that we deal with these days … the government. The government tends to pay for part of the solution to a problem (such as homelessness) and not all of it. And what I see and what troubles me the most is it doesn’t solve the problem. So, in fact, we, like many other nonprofits, become part of the problem, not a part of the solution. Because if all we’re able to do is just enough to keep people where they are, then what solution is that, really? So our mission and our vision is shifting dramatically this year, to leveraging what we get from the government but adding transformational and transitional programming and innovative solutions that take people from the end of the government funding and bring them to the point where they’re all the way on their feet.

As I always do when a refugee contractor is in the news, I checked to see what LSS’s finances look like there in New England.  Much to my surprise they haven’t submitted a Form 990 to Guidestar since the year 2000.  What is up with that?  Are they not filing 990’s with the IRS?   They do have a brief annual report on file for 2010.

No surprise there—they received $50 MILLION that year from you—the taxpayer, while receiving only $1.4 million in charitable donations.

Perhaps we should forgive Ms. Bovill, after all she was only about 6-years-old when Jimmy Carter signed Senator Ted Kennedy’s Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 and so she might not know.  The original law said that resettlement was to be a PUBLIC-PRIVATE Partnership meaning that the non-profit was to also contribute cash to the venture, not pass the whole program off to the taxpayer with the non-profit basically laundering the money through its myriad offices and large staffs—1,600 in New England alone!

So here is what I think, if you don’t have enough (private charitable) money to do a quality job then the Mayor is right—-don’t send more refugees!

And one more thing:  Note in the story that AmeriCorps “volunteers” are doing yard work for LSS—that is you paying for that side benefit too!

For new readers:  Check out more on their parent organization—LIARS, here in Baltimore.  96% of their funding comes from you!  And, they are expecting more payola if the Gang of Eight/Obama amnesty is signed into law.

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