After a fire destroyed their home, a local family was presented with a $5,000 check donation last July – a donation the family says they’ve yet to receive.
When Dorothy Wood stood alongside her family surrounded by members of the community last summer, her heart was so overwhelmed that tears began to flow.
Her family had spent months living apart after a fire destroyed their home in January 2022. Courageously, Dorothy rushed inside the burning home to help evacuate her husband, Dallies.
In July 2022, former Barren County Judge/Executive Micheal Hale arranged a gathering for the check donation. Consequently, a few media outlets were invited to capture the moment. Dorothy said she was so grateful for Hale’s help after she had reached out to him to see if there were organizations that supported displaced families such as her own.
Other local media outlets reported that the donations from last year were raised through non-profit organizations, specifically the Boys and Girls Club (BGC) of Glasgow-Barren County and Bridge Kentucky, as well as members of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Glasgow.
Additionally, children from the BGC volunteered fundraising efforts for the Wood family through bake sales and the selling of fruits and vegetables.
At one point during the gathering on Trigg Corner, Dorothy said one of the children present told her, “Ma’am, I hope this is enough money to help you all get back in your home.”
“I just lost it. I broke down,” Dorothy shared with the Barren County Progress (BCP).
However, in recent days, Dorothy told the BCP that her family is now being denied those donations.
When Dorothy and her family found a mobile home to place back onto their property at Smiley Court, the $5,000 was sent to a mobile home company, Austin Homes, to get the ball rolling with paperwork and a down payment.
But that didn’t happen. Dorothy said the home fell through.
“Somehow, they said we didn’t qualify or that we didn’t make enough money,” Dorothy said, adding that the mortgage company denied the family the loan for the home.
It was then that the Wood family continued their search looking for another home.
This year, Dorothy finally found another home. Recently, she began inquiring about the donations from last year that her family was promised.
“I tried to reach out to Mr. Hale, but he lost his position [as Judge/Executive], so I reached out to Mr. [Patrick] Gaunce, and he told me it’s been too long and that they had to take the money they raised for us and give to another family,” Dorothy said. She added that prior to Hale leaving office, he told her she should get the full amount because it was promised.
She further explained that Gaunce said it had been over a year. Initially, Dorothy said Gaunce then offered her $500.
“I told him that’s not going to help me any to get a home,” she said.
Around a month later, she shared that Gaunce offered $1,000. However, the cost to start the paperwork and the required $1,000 down payment would equate to nearly $4,000.
When Dorothy pressed Gaunce about the $5,000 again, she said she received the same answer: that the money went to help another family.
“We haven’t seen one dime from that donation money,” she told the BCP.
Dorothy is in no way unappreciative of the offers or past help that she has received. She shared that she and her family are extremely grateful for the assistance in the early days of transitioning from the home they lost.
When the family’s home burnt on January 19, 2022, Dorothy said she and her family were provided a room at the Barren River State Park Lodge paid for by now-Judge/Executive Jamie Bewley Byrd and her husband, Daniel.
Byrd confirmed with the BCP these details and explained the temporary room was for an initial two weeks. The Byrds paid for a full month after the family stayed longer than expected, but she was reimbursed half the cost by an employer of the Wood’s family.
Others in the community fundraised $1,905 through the GoFundMe crowdfunding site. Dorothy said those funds helped the family to transition into where they are now and were applied towards things like deposits and utility services.
Currently, the Wood family is at least able to live together at this time in a small, two-bedroom apartment. However, due to the limited space and Dallies’ health problems, they are hopeful their current living situation would change for the better with getting into a new home soon. Dorothy said they look forward to the day they can be back home.
After Dorothy reached out to the BCP, endeavors were made to gain an understanding of what exactly happened with the money her family was promised.
The BCP spoke with Gaunce via telephone on Monday who said Hale had reached out to him to see about helping the Wood family.
“Like anybody, I try to help as many people as I possibly can, so I said, ‘What do you need?’” Gaunce shared.
Gaunce said Hale told him, “We really need $5,000.”
Gaunce further explained, “The money was actually from me, but I just wrote the check through Bridge so I could get the tax deduction in true transparency.” He also said other people were involved in helping the family, but the $5,000 was from him.
Gaunce confirmed the $5,000 check was sent to Austin Homes and eventually returned one or two months later. Upon inquiry, Gaunce said the mobile home company said Dorothy hadn’t completed her paperwork. Therefore, the mobile home sale couldn’t be processed.
Gaunce said the check had to be deposited back into the Bridge account, especially because he’d already taken the deduction for it.
“About a month or so ago, she [Dorothy] started calling asking for the $5,000,” Gaunce said. “I said, ‘Well, Dorothy, I don’t have that $5,000 anymore. We took care of homeless people. We’ve clothed people, fed hungry kids.’”
Gaunce shared that Dorothy told him she was going to the press if he didn’t give her the money. Gaunce said he then went to the board to see what they could do.
“We really didn’t have extra money at this point, so I told her let me see if I can come up with any other money,” Gaunce said.
Gaunce told the BCP that he ultimately offered $1,000 of his own money that both Gaunce and Dorothy agree separately that she denied accepting because it wasn’t the amount she was initially promised back in July 2022 for a new home.
Gaunce said that he left a $1,000 check for her at the office – one he says was never picked up.
As far as holding the money, Gaunce said it was difficult to sit on readily available monies when imminent needs are present in the community. “As for Bridge, we don’t hold any money…it’s just hard for me to walk by a kid that’s hungry or a family losing their utilities…if I got $100 in an account, why wouldn’t I just give them the $100?”
“If you gave me $5,000 to Bridge today, I can’t promise there will be $5,000 next year,” Gaunce said, adding donations aren’t promised the next year.
Dorothy maintains a year has not passed since she was promised $5,000 and the window for the recent home the family found has already passed.
“Nobody ever explained to us that the donation had any time frames,” Dorothy said, “I thought it was held back for you to use…no body told us we had to use it right then or we would never get it.”
Gaunce told the BCP, “I truly feel for Mrs. Wood, and I wish that she would have filled out her paperwork. I wish the check would have cleared.”
“I tried to do the best I could with what I had, and she wasn’t happy with that,” he added.
Gaunce is the Vice President of Bridge KY and the Board Chairman of the BGC.
According to Foundation Group (FG), a company dedicated to things related to nonprofit organizations, donations can be marked as restricted or unrestricted.
“Restricted funds are monies set aside for a particular purpose as a result of designated giving…By contrast, unrestricted funds may be used for any legal purpose appropriation to the organization.”
Ultimately, FG reports that only donors can restrict funds, and a nonprofit is free to decide the use of funds if they are unrestricted.
Gaunce said he was unaware of his donation through Bridge KY being a restricted fund. If that’s the case, it appears Bridge KY, from whom the check was written to Dorothy, was perhaps within reason to use the funds for another purpose.
Dorothy said, “We wasn’t aware it was going to get snatched away.” She plans to attempt to move forward in finding her family a home.
Additionally, numerous attempts were made to Mallie Boston for comment prior to publication via phone calls and text. As of press time, the BCP has not received a response. Boston is the President of Bridge Kentucky and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club Glasgow-Barren.
A detailed inquiry for comment was sent to the former Judge/Executive Hale via a cell phone text message. As of press time, no response has been received.
It is unclear as of press time how the FBC applied their donations. No response from an FCB representative was received despite an attempt made.
As for BGC, Gaunce said the kids who raised money through bake sales were a small amount and not included as a part of the $5,000.
For Dorothy and her family, the wait and uncertainty continues.