Defending Sarah's House From Sun Charges


January 24, 1993

An article in the Sun (Dec. 27) raises some very serious charges about Sarah's House, many of them unsubstantiated, and some by supposition and some so serious, such as racism and sexual harassment, as to warrant legal action.

As a volunteer worker at Sarah's House for the past several months, I take strong exception to both the tone of the article and the methods of investigation of such charges.

While I admit there undoubtedly have been personnel problems, some unresolved, ... the goals of the shelter in maintaining a caring and nurturing environment have never been sacrificed. It has and will continue to be a model shelter.

My viewpoint is as a volunteer' I have no ax to grind, no salary to negotiate , no job to lose. The policies on treatment of guests and handling of donations are clearly stated and enforced. There is a representative from the Department of Social Services on the premises and should any guest have any question or complaint, that representative is available to handle any problems independent of the shelter's management.

I can assure you from personal experience should any one guest be afforded preferential treatment or supplied with extra clothing, the hue and cry would be heard in Annapolis. No guest is asked to exit unless she has exceeded the limit of allowable infractions or for a very serious breach of behavior, such as using drugs....

I only wish that considering the length of Deidre Nerreau McCabe's article, she had taken the time to look further into the daily operations of the shelter. Perhaps as a volunteer for a few days, the purpose of investigative reporting would have been better served.

Had she held a feverish baby while the other tried to telephone the doctor; comforted a young, single mother in labor; listened to the many desperate stories of the broken homes and neglected or abused children and spouses; delivered a meal from the dining room to a mother with a sick child so that child would not have to be taken out in inclement weather, or worked in the kithen to prepare these meals and seen how the staff utilizes what donations are available to deliver tasty and nutritious meals, then I would place more credence in the report.

I would hope that other guests, volunteers and workerw will speak up as I am doing in defense of an organization that is doing the very best it can to serve the community in the true spirit of humanity.

Elizabeth Haigis


Although I do not dispute the right of a journalist to attack anybody or any organization, I question the credibility of an article initiated withpre-determined slant and inadequate investigation. Such is the case with Deidre Nerreau McCabe's article on Sarah's House.

Sarah's House is a homeless shelter that has been hailed as a model for transitional housing and retooling. The article presented negative allegations expressed by former staff and clients.

Sarah's House as an organization runs no differently than any of our businesses. Management is thoroughly instructed in Equal Employment Opportunity practices, employee/employer rights and expectations, and confidential handling of grievances.

At the same time, it is vulnerable to pilfering, racial discrimination and sexual harassment complaints, and disgruntled employees or clients....

Had Ms McCabe continued her investigation with current staff and clients, she may have found that many of tthe reported allegations were perception, not reality.

Perhaps she should focus her energies next time on interviewing food or shelter organizations....

Elizabeth South


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