Tampa homeless charity CEO on unpaid sports concessions labor: Who you gonna believe, “former addicts” or him?

The Tampa Bay unpaid homeless labor scandal fallout continues to fall out this week, with Hillsborough County officials calling for a federal investigation, the Rays and concessionaire Centerplate launching their own probe, and the Lightning saying hey, don’t blame them, they stopped using these guys in 2013 due to “reliability and consistency concerns.” (Though not “violating labor law” concerns, I guess.)

The charity at the center of the charges, meanwhile, New Beginnings, has responded with its own press release, and it is hi-larious. For starters:

“We don’t use homeless or the clients than are in our Emergency Shelter for sporting events”.

Assuming that “than” is a typo for “that,” this at first sounds like the dozens of homeless New Beginnings clients who the Tampa Bay Times witnessed lining up to work concessions at a Buccaneers game must have been imaginary. The key here, though, is that phrase “in our Emergency Shelter” — New Beginnings does use its clients to run sports concessions, it just does so with those in its “work therapy” program, where homeless people learn how to re-enter the work world by working and not getting paid for it! (Which, come to think of it, probably is a good acclimation to the work world these days.)

New Beginnings also posted a link to a softball radio interview with New Beginnings CEO Tom Atchison on a Christian radio station, in which he denied all the charges, mostly by saying, “Are you kidding me? Stop this nonsense!” Then he said this:

“Can you imagine using somebody that’s homeless off the street to cash out a register and serve hot dogs? They’d be eating the hot dogs, stealing the beer, taking the money out of the register, and running down the street!”

Your homelessness charity director, people!

Atchison went on to blame disgruntled ex-employees and “a few former addicts that are telling him how horrible we are” for the negative press coverage, without actually contesting the central point of the Times article, which is that New Beginnings is pimping out its homeless clients to Tampa Bay sports teams, not paying them anything beyond their food and shelter, and pocketing any proceeds. Instead, he appears to be falling back on the defense that he’s a good Christian, so why are you picking on him, already?

On first blush it will appear that New Beginnings is a horrible agency, but after the dust has settled the truth about the great work we do will prevail. We at New Beginnings feel like we are under attack by the powers of darkness, but God is at our side to walk us through this.

God better have one heck of a labor lawyer.


5 comments on “Tampa homeless charity CEO on unpaid sports concessions labor: Who you gonna believe, “former addicts” or him?

  1. “Can you imagine using somebody that’s homeless off the street to cash out a register and serve hot dogs? They’d be eating the hot dogs, stealing the beer, taking the money out of the register, and running down the street!”

    He still works there??

    I’m so glad I didn’t have any coffee in my mouth when I read that.

  2. with hide comments he should get fired or resign. That’s why I hate the smuginess of Christian believing that there shit don’t stink and it’s them with a pile of shit in it’s pants. The homeless should she for restitution

  3. I gave up on large charities a long time ago. What the upper damagement makes in many cases is obscene. I do believe that a non-profit must publish the salaries for the high mucky-mucks though.
    A quick scan:
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/specials/tampa-homeless-program-uses-unpaid-destitute-residents-as-steady-labor/2208350
    “Atchison said he earns only $18,000 per year, though his salary is not listed on New Beginnings’ tax documents. Atchison is paid through the church, he said, whose salary information is not public record. He lives in a home on the Hillsborough River he said he rents for $800 per month.”
    That looks fishy but let’s see what another publications lists it as:
    http://www.ibtimes.com/tampa-bay-homeless-shelter-investigation-reveals-controversial-practices-1730964
    “As for Atchison, he allegedly earns $18,000 a year though his salary is not listed on official documents. However, Atchison, who also works as a pastor, receives a separate salary from the New Life Pentecostal Church in North Tampa.”
    No smoking gun. But it’s shaky enough to warrant a further look and I’m sure someone will.

  4. Just remember one of the large charities is the NFL with its 501c6 tax exemption, and Goodell is paid around $45 million a year.

  5. Atchison’s “God is at our side” comment is straight out of the psychopath playbook. Labor violations may be the tip of the iceberg.

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