A fight for more funding for the county’s nonprofits has turned into a power struggle of just who is in control of the county’s nonprofits.
Sandy Pruitt, leader of People for Change of Prince George’s County organized a meeting for April 1 for all of the county’s nonprofits, under a new umbrella organization name of Nonprofit Coalition of Prince George’s County, to discuss the budget and other issues, however there was a problem. The Human Services Coalition of Prince George’s County didn’t approve.
In an e-mail sent in response to Pruitt’s call for action, HSC Executive Director Jerry Adams made it clear that if there was to be any group to organize nonprofits in the county, it would be his.
“Where exactly do you get the authority to represent your organization as the Nonprofit Coalition of Prince George's County?” Adams asked. “I just googled ‘Nonprofit Coalition of Prince George's County’ and HSC of PGC was the four of the first ten choices that came up. People for Change does not ever enter the picture.”
However, when many leaders of nonprofits read the e-mail, they became infuriated with its tone and message. Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant, who also works with Community Development Corporation, says the county’s nonprofits had the right to hold that meeting.
“This is America and we have the right to meet with whoever we decide to meet with. We have the right to peacefully assemble. We have the right to petition our government,” Grant said. “For an individual to express disdain, anger and frustration, and to suggest that she should get permission to come to him to call such a meeting is a travesty to our democratic ideals.”
Adams went on to say that Pruitt’s message was confusing to the county’s nonprofit community. Adams said his group will take a “reasoned” approach into meetings with county officials as opposed to the method Pruitt is using.
“If HSC represents a reasoned and tactical approach as its voice of the nonprofit community, and you confuse the issue with a second message and style, we will have two very confusing messages ‘representing’ nonprofits,” he said. “That is a huge disservice to nonprofits, and the county that watches them.
Despite Adam’s effort to discourage attendance, it went on as planned with over 40 county nonprofits represented according to Pruitt. Adams did not attend, but representatives from HSC were in attendance though, according to Adams, they did not participate.
Pruitt plans on moving forward with action from the Nonprofit Coalition of Prince George’s County and has a meeting scheduled for April 15. She is also planning to ask for the removal of Adams from his position within HSC as there is still a bad taste in the mouth of her coalition.
“What should have been his response is ‘I congratulate you Ms. Pruitt on bringing together nonprofits. As you know I represent an organization that works with nonprofits. I would like to join you in this roundtable discussion to see if there are ways where we can possibly work together to see that the nonprofit sector does not lose funding,’” Grant said.