Screwing the Foundation for the Blind

By Michael Lacey

State checks that finance aid for the severely disabled have gone missing for months. Hanky panky or a sign of the economic times and a harbinger of things to come? Since the answer involves some of the largest corporate names in philanthropy, the government will not be able to duck a clear response for much longer, though at the present lips are sealed.

The Foundation for Blind Children has been without state checks since July. The crisis was so acute that reserves were drawn down and the Foundation feared it would not be able to meet payroll.

In the past year, roughly two thousand impaired kids and adults have been served in the greater Phoenix area by the Foundation. Despite a Board of Directors that includes players from American Express, Motorola, and Pinnacle West Capital amongst others, the Foundation relies upon state funds dispersed through The Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind.

But since this summer, checks have not been cut by the state agency.

Mike Hanks, the Foundation's chief financial officer, declined to explain why his charity had been cut off by the state.

"I'd rather not get into that," said Hanks. "We expect a payment on Monday and we think they are going to co-operate."

Let's hope so. Last word was that staff from the office of Governor Janet Napolitano had to intervene.

Monday, when the Foundation expects their first state check in nearly half a year, is also the deadline to reserve a seat to hear Erik Weihenmayer (left).

Weihenmayer, the first blind man to conquer Mount Everest as well as climb the seven summits, is the featured breakfast speaker November 20 at the Hotel W in Scottsdale. Make your reservation at 602-331-7908. The event is free. You'll be pitched on how to make a contribution that -- because it is tax deductible -- will also cost you nothing.

Meanwhile, calls to The Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind for an explanation went unreturned.

Perhaps a call to Janet when she is done fundraising in Washington D.C. is in order.

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