Former board members speak out about supposed problems plaguing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Former board members speak out about supposed problems plaguing GCCAA

All four members were on the board for less than six months before resigning. (Image Source: WLOX News) All four members were on the board for less than six months before resigning. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Dr. Christina Richardson (far left), Rhonda Gamble (L), Dr. Cherie Labat (R), and Cecil Lizana (far right) all resigned from the board. (Image Source: WLOX News) Dr. Christina Richardson (far left), Rhonda Gamble (L), Dr. Cherie Labat (R), and Cecil Lizana (far right) all resigned from the board. (Image Source: WLOX News)

Disarray is how four former members of the Gulf Coast Community Action agency are describing the state of the organization.

“I want them to tell the truth and to follow the rules and to take responsibility for some of the things that have occurred,” said Rhonda Gamble.

Gamble is the former Hancock County poverty sector representative for GCCAA. She and three others recently resigned from the agency citing that the organization was facing serious challenges.

“For me the problem with Gulf Coast community action is their brand is broken. They don't have any credibility in the community,” said Dr. Christina Richardson.

Those who resigned cited allegations of closed door meetings, mismanagement of funds, and specifically owing FEMA millions of dollars.

“FEMA went so far as to tell them if you can't pay the money back, because we know you don't have the money, they're the ones that did the audit....so, if you don't have the money then the next time there is a disaster, we'll just take the money from whatever funds you would be receiving from that disaster,” said Gamble.

The former board members say during the summer, a representative from the state attorney general's office held a meeting explaining why they were considered an at-risk agency. The ex-members say even then the board was defiant about fixing the problems.

“I think that was the most frustrating part is that we couldn't get past accepting responsibility for the issues that were wrong with the agency in order to move forward,” said Dr. Cherie Labat.

All four former board members stress that their mission is to bring awareness to the issues facing the agency, so they can get on the right track before all hope is gone.

“It was sad that in order for things to be fixed they have to be broken,” said Dr. Labat.

In a statement, the GCCAA's attorney said,

"While it is regrettable that three members of the board have resigned after less than a year of service, there remain dedicated board members who are committed to making sure that the needs of the community continue to be met."

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