Refugee Resettlement Watch

California “refugee” center gets $3.7 million digs!

Posted by Ann Corcoran on October 22, 2012

Your tax dollars!

Recently a reader charged that I had become too cynical in my writing here at RRW.   Guilty as charged!  And, this story from Garden Grove, California provides further evidence that what may have been simply a humanitarian-driven program (although honestly I doubt it ever was all about altruism) has become an industry fueled with buckets of taxpayers’ money.

From the Los Angeles Times:

It started with the Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon. Then came the Romanians, the Iranians, the Central Americans and those from the Middle East, all showing up at the little Garden Grove haven they knew simply as the “refugee club.”

Folks at St. Anselm’s Cross-Cultural Community Center offered newcomers the basics: where to find a job, how to write a resume, how to get a handle on America. By the thousands, those fleeing war, poverty or persecution poured in.

Now, this club has moved from its humble quarters — cramped rooms, donated furniture and dim lighting — into a gleaming $3.7-million two-story building in Orange.

Fulfilling the needs of the “modern refugee” and calling themselves “social entrepreneurs!”  Give me a break!

And as its headquarters has expanded so have its services: yoga classes, marriage counseling, personal finances, even step-by-step installation of a child’s car seat — the needs of the “modern refugee,” says Vicki Connely, the center’s director.

Inside, the structure spans 30,000 square feet, bought in April from Farmers Insurance. Outside, there’s enough space for annual health fairs attracting nearly 900 participants.

“We’re actually a nonprofit evolving into social entrepreneurs,” Connely says.

Government (read taxpayer) grants and contracts have apparently provided them with the funds to acquire their new lavish digs and run this Cadillac operation.

St. Anselm’s, for all its offerings, also runs as a business with a staff of 80 and plenty of private and public transportation contracts with city and county agencies. Drivers ferry an average of 1,000 riders a month, many senior citizens, taking them to the doctor, to pick up prescriptions or to adult day care, generating enough income to take the pressure off fundraising.

They do very little (private) fundraising.  Check out their most recent federal IRS Form 990, here.

If you don’t want to wander through the many pages, here are some of the important facts, and btw, a couple of years ago one could see government grants on page one, but the IRS has kindly removed that information to page 9 presumably so the casual reader might have a harder time figuring out what we are paying for all this!

St. Anselm’s received $4,225,008 in revenue in FY 2011 (tax year begins in 2010).

$2,972,285 came from government contributions (70 % of its income came directly as a gift from the taxpayer)

As for the income referenced in the article above—contracts for transportation etc.—they garnered another $131,382.

That leaves about $1.1 million they received from private donors.

Now, get this, they paid out $2,869,592 in salaries and benefits.  I think this is what Obama means when he talks about government creating jobs!  Oh, and incidentally, one job created was for the sister of the “progressive” director to be the organization’s grant writer (you will find that admission on Schedule L near the end of the tax return).

Read about the history of St. Anselm’s here which got its start with the help of one of the big nine federal refugee contractors, Church World Service.  For new readers “voluntary agency or volag” is a misnomer, these mostly “church” non-profits actually couldn’t survive for a week without their taxpayer funding.

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