LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Will’s Place addresses funding discussion

Published 4:54 pm Sunday, October 23, 2022

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As Board of Directors of Will’s Place, we would like to address concerns voiced at the Oct. 2 Stanly County Commissioners meeting and published in the Oct. 13 edition of the SNAP.

Truth and trust are supremely important to any organization. These virtues are especially imperative for a nonprofit organization with a mission to help those seeking sobriety.

Therefore, Will’s Place must defend itself against false statements.
Will’s Place was part of the HRSA grant awarded to the Stanly County Health Department in 2019. The contract for that grant was cancelled when we terminated our executive director. We did not allow the Health Department to be a part of the hiring process for our next director as it was requested.

We understood this decision meant we would lose the funding, but in no way did we imagine we would be accused of not following guidelines.

It is the board’s responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of Will’s Place, both from a legal and ethical standpoint, and we stand behind the decision to terminate our director’s position at the risk of losing grant funding.

It was implied Will’s Place had not utilized taxpayers’ money properly. How the money was utilized from the HRSA grant was never in question. The Health Department notified us it was terminating our contract “due to the lack of a qualified executive director” to provide services outlined in the contract.

While it is correct we did not hire an “executive director,” Will’s Place founder remains heavily involved with the day-to-day operations. There was a peer support specialist on staff, and a director of faith-based programming was hired in February 2021. The contract was terminated in March 2021.

Will’s Place has always employed qualified individuals to carry out the services outlined in the termination letter from the Health Department.
The opioid settlement is not taxpayers’ money. It is from a $26 billion national opioid agreement with the nation’s three major drug distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen).

A memorandum of agreement between state and local governments gives directions on how opioid settlement funds are to be distributed in our state. Will’s Place absolutely meets the requirements for eligibility to receive this funding.

We are extremely proud of the work we do at Will’s Place and the services we provide at no cost to our community.

In the first 10 months of 2022, Will’s Place data includes:

• Number of intakes: 114

• Number of transports: 34

• Number of group participants: 591

• Number of people seeking resources: 82

• Number of community sites visited: 73

• Number of incarcerated individuals: 25

We thank the commissioners for their unanimous vote to approve funding from the opioid settlement.

Each of us are dedicated to the work being done at Will’s Place. Perhaps these statements were unintentional. Regardless, it is our duty to make the citizens of Stanly aware of the truth.

Our hope is that trust prevails.

Linda Edquist
Joanne Gettleman
Darlene Hudson
Erik Kerr
Mark Lassiter
Allison Mingle
Jim Senter
Heather Tucker