Westborough breaks ties with Friends of Senior Center
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – A dispute between town officials and the Friends of the Westborough Senior Center, Inc. has resulted in the town severing its relationship with the group.
According to a press release sent out by Town Manager Jim Malloy, the action was taken July 15 “due to concerns related to the Friends refusing to provide a complete accounting of their fundraising activities on behalf of the Westborough Senior Center to the town and Council on Aging (COA).”
In an interview after the statement was released, Malloy said a “series of requests” had made to the Friends by the COA but the information regarding its finances was never forthcoming. There was concern, he added, that the monies raised by the Friends – approximately $15,000-$20,000 - were not being directed back into the Senior Center.
Selectman George Barrette, who was the Board of Selectmen’s liaison to the COA, elaborated on that concern. It appeared, he said, that the Friends were giving monies to other organizations or causes, which while worthy, were outside of the Friends’ stated charter.
“It’s fine to give monies to other groups,” he said, “ but you can’t do it in the name of the Friends of the Senior Center. If you raise monies in the name of the Friends of the Senior Center, then those monies must go back to the Senior Center.”
The continuing lack of communication and accounting was of concern to town officials, he said.
“We don’t even know how much monies they have or what they have spent,” he said.
Additionally, town officials were concerned about the status of the group regarding the Internal Revenue Service and whether regulations were being met adequately.
“The Senior Center is a town organization in a town building with town employees working in it,” he noted. “We felt we had to sever the relationship to protect the town.”
In a phone interview after the statement was released, Priscilla Federici, the president of the Friends, said she had not yet been officially informed that the town was severing the relationship.
Because she had not yet received notification she said “it was hard for her to comment,” but noted that “all of us feel extremely bad.”
“We have literally spent thousands of dollars on the Senior Center,” she said. “So this is a very, very sad occurrence.”
Federici said the group was under the impression that because they were incorporated they did not need to provide accounting to the town. They were though, she said in the process of “gathering information” and was planning on providing a report at a meeting scheduled to be held in August with the COA.
She was not able to attend the July 15 meeting due to an illness, she said.
According to Malloy, a new non-profit group will be formed later this fall to take the place of the Friends. Until then, any gifts or donations can be made directly to the Westborough Council on Aging, 4 Rogers Rd., Westborough, MA 01581.
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