Avendanos quit Helping House board amid controversies

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  • The Multicultural Helping House Society no longer has three Avendanos on its board of directors.

    President and CEO Tomas ‘Tatay Tom’, his son Benedicto or Benny, and Tomas’ brother Demetrio or Demi, have vacated their seats amid controversies rocking the Vancouver nonprofit serving immigrants and foreign workers.

    A society filing made with the B.C. Registries and Online Services on August 6 reported that the Avendanos were no longer directors as of July 31, 2019.

    The resignation of the Avendanos comes in the wake of allegations of conflicts of interest, mismanagement, and inappropriate business dealings.

    Tomas ‘Tatay Tom’ Avendano’s son Benedicto or Benny used to be the Helping House’s internal auditor.

    In 2018, a group calling itself Concerned Friends of Helping House detailed the allegations in a blog that continues to be available online.

    For details: https://concernedfriendsof.wixsite.com/website

    According to the blog, a woman personally close to Tomas Avendano was engaged in selling financial products to caregivers.

    Questions were also raised about alleged discrepancies in the financial reports of Helping House and the foundation that was created to hold its assets.

    Tomas ‘Tatay Tom’ Avendano was known to be the head of the foundation. It is not clear whether or not he has stepped down from the board’s foundation.

    The issues raised last year caught the attention of the City of Vancouver, one of the agencies funding Helping House.

    In a letter to the society in March 2019, the city asked Helping House to discuss with Vancouver staff these “community concerns” as one of the conditions for releasing funds to the society.

    The provincial government of B.C. has also started to look at the affairs of Helping House.

    In a letter dated August 12, 2019, the compliance division of the province’s gaming policy and enforcement branch told Helping House that it is conducting a “compliance review” of the organization.

    The compliance division asked for records between January 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019. The deadline to submit documents is September 3.

    Vancouver MLA Mable Elmore is one of many individuals trying to assist Helping House resolve its problems.

    “I continue to be contacted by individuals who are concerned about MHHS,” Elmore told the ReyFort Media Group. “It’s important that their concerns are heard and addressed. I encourage anyone who would like to share their stories and experiences to come forward.”

    Elmore said that she is hosting a community meeting at Vancouver office this Saturday, August 17 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

    According to Elmore, “We can work together to ensure MHHS plays the vitally important role that is needed in our community. Everyone is welcome to attend.”

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