[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]

I have volunteered with Transform Burien more than 2,000 hours over the past decade, serving our unhoused and low-income neighbors. I’m sure many of you will recall the many positive things I have said about Transform during my city council campaigns, in public testimony to council, and at any other opportunity I have had.

One month ago, however, I made the decision to end my relationship with Transform.

At our regular volunteer meeting on October 7th, two of the pastors who are on the board showed up to inform the volunteers of some changes in policy. Most notably, they announced that monetary donations designated for a specific function would be put in the general fund, rather than being directed as specified. This meant that money was no longer to be spent (except in “emergencies”) on, for example, the food bank or the clothing bank. Those would be expected to be run entirely off of donations of goods. Another long-standing issue has been that the director often yells at volunteers and donors, has slammed doors, and has had other behavioral issues which would lead a responsible board to question his effectiveness to lead the organization.

As volunteers, many of us were concerned and in response I circulated a letter hoping to get feedback so that I could present it to the board. After learning of my letter, I was called into a meeting with the board president to discuss the concerns raised. He expressed an awareness of the problems and an intent to address most of them. I was optimistic after our conversation and expressed to other volunteers that I would wait to see what happened before taking further action.

One concern which he did not address, and in fact doubled down on, was the issue of the director’s conduct. I was told very clearly that the board supports the current director and had no plans to make any changes to the leadership. About an hour after that meeting, the director engaged in what I can only call a shouting match in the hallway driving away another donor. He then came into the office where I was sitting and began yelling at me, at which point I chose to pack up my things and walk out.

As someone who has been dedicated to this ministry, it deeply saddens me to see Transform operating at a deficit and choosing to be led by a director whose behavior drives away both donors and volunteers. I am concerned for the future of the organization and would encourage the Burien community to be prepared to step up and find an alternative way to feed and clothe our most vulnerable residents should Transform prove unable to sustain itself.

I am writing this letter because it is the holiday season and Burien residents will be looking for charities worthy of their support. If you have food or clothing to spare, I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider donating to Transform, where it will go to our neighbors in need. If you wish to make a financial donation, I would consider finding another organization to support that will honor your wishes about how to spend that money, such as our Severe Weather Shelter, which has already had to open for 18 days this cold season.

– Charles Schaefer

NOTE: Charles Schaefer is not related to BTB Founder/Publisher/Editor Scott Schaefer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have something you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).


Avatar photo

B-Town Blog Staff

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.