‘Volunteer fired for writing letter to editor’
Volunteer Jason May has been fired from his position at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center for writing a letter to the editor critical of the center.
Thrift Store Manager Cheryl Wright called May at home Friday morning to inform him he had been fired from his position in the Thrift Store.
“I think this whole thing started several months ago when I said in an interview that this was a senior center run by juniors,” said May. “I’m learning a lesson here. The center’s being dealt with harshly by the administration and governing board. Shame on me for having the audacity to ask questions.”
During the past three weeks, concerns about the quality of food, staff attitude, accounting for funds and the center’s expansion have generated controversy at the center. The controversy has led to a split among members over support of the center.
“For that, I became their scapegoat for all the dissenters. They are going to pillory me to stifle the rest of them,” May said.
May has volunteered at the Thrift Store six days a week for more than four years. He vowed to continue to support the cause of seniors asking for improvements. He also said he would go back to the volunteer post happily if the firing decision is reversed and he is asked to return.
“It’s unfortunate this all had to happen,” said Wright. “I think things can be done in a positive way, but it’s still unfortunate.”
A call to Colleen Howell, acting director at the time of the firing, was not returned Monday.
May has sent a letter to all advisory board members asking for a grievance hearing or similar procedure to explain his firing, he said. He will ask for an open meeting and plans to have an attorney present.
“This is shooting the messenger. I’ve done nothing wrong. I felt duty-bound to speak up for the seniors and community that weren’t getting the message (about the happenings at the center).”
May’s letter, published Nov. 18 in the Nevada Appeal, questions the center on accounting of funds, “lifetime” positions of governing board members, degeneration of the pool hall and use of funds for an enclosed pushcart to display and sell items when display cases are already present for the same purpose.
May acknowledges he is neither a senior nor member of the center. He is 57 years old and a volunteer. He is not eligible for membership until the age of 60.
“The (staff is) not answerable to me. But, as an advocate and confidant of many seniors, I believe the seniors are owed more than a slick spin on these problems,” he said.
“In the Thrift Store, we laugh, we joke, and there’s great camaraderie. It’s phenomenal. That’s what kept me coming back. That’s the enjoyment,” he said.