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Community Foundation Turns Back on Poor

It will soon be two years ago that Alicia Fernandez Dicks, CEO of the Community Foundation, last sat in the office of For The Good, Inc.

While she was there I explained the need for the restoration of Utica’s own, urban based Community Action Agency. She and her staff member listened intently to the logic and ongoing need, citing the 40% poverty rate in the city, the lack of youth programs, activities and the dwindling of agencies to deliver same.

I turned over to her the research done by a paid consultant to the Roefaro Administration in 2010 which underscored the serious loss of services to the inner city once MVCAA assumed the mantle of Utica’s CSBG designee.

It was then that Alicia Fernandez Dicks, with my staff to witness, promised to partner with For The Good for said restoration, promised to convene a series of community meetings and bring together the stakeholders to restore the designation and assist in For The Good, Inc. being named as said agency. There was direct reference to the reopening of the former UFA building, then Cosmopolitan Center, siting the structure as an existing, untapped  community resource including a fine gymnasium.

Since that time nothing of the sort has occurred. Instead, Fernandez Dicks has dropped her maiden name, which identified her as a member of a marginalized group, and most recently aligned herself and her agency with the MVHS intention to build a hospital downtown.

Additionally, since that time, the last vestige of a youth center, the Boys and Girls Club, has gone under. Five of the computers which once provided access to the internet and word processing for needy students sit on the floor of FTG waiting for repair.

How can this be right? According to their mission statement “The Community Foundation is a community-based social impact investor with a mission to engage, invest and lead.” I don’t think that means drag the community along kicking and screaming.

The mounting chorus of those opposing the location of the MVHS new hospital continues to grow while those in power ignore the obvious. It’s a bad move. Why do they, and now the CF, want to fight all of these people for their property and raise taxes rather than build where they already own the land?

It’s been proven that there was never a mandate to build downtown. The damaging emails between Brindisi, Picente and DiMeo have been exposed. Law suits are being brought and low ball offers are being rejected.

The latest attempt to coerce the public is the $1 million relocation offer to facilitate moving targeted businesses. It boils down to $20- 30k max for the nearly 40 businesses involved. Inadequate is being kind.

And why would the CF choose to support MVHS rather than establish adequate funding for Utica’s inner city’s many unaddressed problems? 40% poverty, generations of undereducated families, teen pregnancy, low health parameters, reentry and the impacts of mass incarceration, domestic violence, lack of youth programming, the list goes on. Both former Congressman Hanna and current Congresswoman Tenney support For The Good in the reinstatement of CSBG.

I guess it’s easier and cushier to sit over cocktails and dinner with the rich and powerful than to hash out the problems of the dirty poor.

As I understand it, Ms. Dicks’ husband is a board member of MVHS, the mega conglomerate of the original 4 main hospitals of the city, Childrens, Faxton, St. Elizabeth and St. Luke’s. Although it is not a direct line, there appears to be a conflict of interest for the largest and wealthiest donor fund in the area to throw in with the monster who wants to eat Main Street.

The ER of a hospital in downtown will serve as a walk-in doctor’s office for the poor. Put an Urgent Care or clinic in downtown. Build the hospital at the St. Luke’s campus where it belongs.

I find it nauseating that the protectors and securers of millions of donor directed funds invest their time and attention in protecting and securing the interests of a mega corporation rather than the land locked poor. Is that what the donors intended their money to do when they left it with the Community Foundation?

For The Good was lied to and mislead by Alicia Fernandez Dicks that the Community Foundation would see the need and help establish a community center through CSBG funding.

The people most in need have been abandoned by those entrusted with the funds and power to assist their well-being.

With or without her maiden name, Alicia Dicks will come to be known as the formerly Latina CEO of the Community Foundation who came into my office, smiled so nicely then turned her back on the poor.




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