Excerpts from The Rooming House Gallery – Connecting the Dot
Ten members of the board of directors of the now official nonprofit named The Rooming House Art Gallery & History Center squeezed around the dining room table, along with Josh and Andres. Three of the members were community citizens recommended by Mona Smith and Enrique Salzmon from the Community Development Council. Four members were artist friends and contacts of Andres who were excited to get involved. None were on a nonprofit board before. Jorge, from the neighborhood grocery store, was the president. He was active in the community and supported local art and area beautification projects.
Jorge smiled, then stretched, leaned to his side and pulled out his wallet. He sorted through an assortment of bills and receipts crammed in together. “You mentioned finance and it reminded me I have this bill.” He selected a receipt and dropped it in front of Josh. “I ordered a sign to hang off the porch so people would know we exist. It’s for, let’s see, it’s for three hundred and eighty-nine dollars. Josh, next time you’re writing checks, just make one out to me. The sign will be delivered next week and you guys can hang it. It won’t take much hardware.”
Josh looked at Andres in surprise who looked just as surprised and shook his head. He didn’t know anything about it.
Jorge stuffed his wallet back together and picked up the agenda. “Okay, next item here is a program report from Andres. Let’s hear it.”
Josh noticed a look of amazement pass between Quianna and Synoma as they looked around the table and noticed no one was questioning the purchase. “Excuse me,” Synoma said. “I read through the last month’s minutes Josh provided and don’t recall a sign being discussed. Was it?”
Josh shook his head as Jorge said, “Well, I guess it wasn’t. The guy gave me such a good deal, I figured we’d need one eventually.”
“Wait a minute!” Sharie said. “My background is in graphic design. How will this design fit with our overall plan to have a consistent image? We’re not even ready with professional letterhead and envelopes yet, and now we got a dang sign. What gives here?”
Jorge shifted uncomfortably, took a sip of his Coke and said, “Well, I am the president and I thought we needed something to identify us better than rusty old numbers on the porch of this relic.”
Voices erupted around the table.
“Board presidents can’t do stuff like that!”
“How’d you get elected, anyway? I thought you had experience on local boards, that’s why I voted for you.”
“Man, we don’t know what the hell we doin. I jist want to get some art stuff going for the kids around here. Do we need a dang sign to do that? Them monies coulda bought art supplies and Andres could be giving kids lessons.”
Synoma waved her hand till everyone stopped talking and looked at her. Her voice calm, she asked, “What are the policies and procedures for expenditures? And are there job descriptions for board members?” No one had an answer.
“See, we don’t know what the hell we doin. I never heerd of no job description.”
Jorge jumped up and grabbed the receipt from in front of Josh. “Screw this crap. I got a grocery to run. I’ll cancel the order and get my money back and you all can find a new board president. Call me when you want some donations for snacks and goodies for the kids, but I’m off this board.” He slid his agenda over to Ricardo. “You’re the Vice President, take over. Just don’t go buy a goddamn sign.”
There was silence. The members stared after Jorge as he stormed out.
Holy Cow! Who’s worked with nonprofit boards before? Especially new ones being organized by neophytes?
Do things get better or worse for Josh and Andres?