By the Board of Directors Executive Committee
It is a natural human instinct to be angry when something you perceive to be yours is taken without your permission – not borrowed or even temporarily appropriated, but actually stolen. Even the most gracious and compassionate among us is justifiably offended when this occurs.
Such were the initial reactions of your Alliance staff, executive committee and donors when it was discovered through considerable effort by Carole Collins that an employee of the business where our mail was received had stolen more than $20,000 from us. Although some initial instincts were to contact law enforcement, further reflection led us down a different road and, as Frost said, “that has made all the difference.”
It was a grace to see Alliance leadership step back from the brink of forcing a young adult with a clean record into the criminal justice system. We concluded instead that we had two goals: for the Alliance and/or our donors to get the money back and for him to experience consequences that were real but not life-altering in the way a criminal record would have been. It was a grace that the young person came forward to apologize with obvious sincerity offering to repay the funds, which he actually had the capacity to do. After losing his job handling our mail, he was able to get another one that with help from family would make it possible for him to send us timely monthly payments from July through December. He also agreed to pay the compensation we were seeking from his employer for their negligence in handling our mail. It was also a grace (perhaps even a miracle!) that his bank reimbursed several of our larger donors directly since its mobile banking anti-fraud security failed miserably in this situation. Another grace was that without hesitation each of these kind and generous donors promptly re-sent their contributions to us.
The most grace-filled moment, however, occurred in early December when Paula, Carole, and members of the executive committee met with the young man and his attorney via Zoom so he could apologize “face to face.” In this meeting, we told him who the Alliance is and how we are trying to stand for love and justice in our world. We heard more about what he had written in his confession and apology that we had received earlier. This is a young person grievously aware that he made a terrible and uncharacteristic mistake because of financial pressures in his household. We heard his dreams of marrying his fiancé and joining the military along with his deep remorse for embroiling his closest loved ones in this situation. We heard his anguish that he stole from a nonprofit that does what we do. We also heard deep gratitude from him and his lawyer for our willingness to allow him to make us whole without involving law enforcement.
As you can imagine, there were few dry eyes as we ended our time together. On your behalf, we thanked him for his courage in admitting his mistake and his faithfulness in repaying us. We also offered him our best hopes and our prayers for his future as he works to realize his dreams. This was a very time-consuming, frustrating episode that has now come to an end. But in the midst of it all, there were many moments of grace for which we can only say thank you – thank you to our staff, thank you to our donors, and especially, thanks be to God.