CANCER PATIENT NIKO BLACK FACES ABUSE AT NON-PROFIT WOMEN’S SHELTER AFTER BEING EVICTED FROM HER HOME LAST YEAR
Interesting that the non-profit organization that Ms Black is staying with has had numerous monetary contributions from Wells Fargo Bank in recent years.
Niko was hospitalized immediately following the eviction. While at the hospital, The Dale Macintosh Center, which had been advocating for Niko for months, got a call from Grandma’s House of Hope letting them know that they had housing available and could provide care for Niko. Days later on October 12th, Niko was transported to Grandma’s House of Hope (GHH) in Garden Grove. GHH is a faith-based non-profit organization that according to their website claims to “provide a multi generational continuum of care designed to provide services, programs, and affordable housing to under-served and underprivileged women and children.” For Niko, her stay at GHH would be another chapter in the enduring battle for her health, her home, and Wells Fargo.
Once situated at GHH, all seemed to be going well for Niko the first few days, but she would soon notice things that didn’t make sense:
“I began to notice some women would go days without food,” explains Niko, “the owner would lock up the women’s medicines, their food – and she’s not certified to do that…She would demand cash from these women – we weren’t even allowed to call 911.”
Niko would voice some of the concerns to GHH Director Je’net Kreitner, but it would only lead to violent confrontations. “She tried to shake me down, pointing at me face,” tells Niko, “‘You got money, you got cash on you, do you have friends, who can bring you cash!?’ – I was shocked, I didn’t understand what was going on. The cancer place had already told me I would be covered for months.”
Niko’s case manager, Mady Navarro, who was in charge of attending to the women’s needs at GHH also noticed some of the conditions these women were living in:
“As soon as I started working there I noticed some of the things that were going on. I was in charge of doing assessments over the phone, and I also had to say that we provided 80% of their food needs – which is one of the things I started noticing was not true. There was no meat, no milk, no eggs, the only things there was a lot of were canned goods which a lot of the ladies wouldn’t eat because it was already expired.“
The case manager would focus on GHH’s “Healing House”, which was where Niko and most severely ill women resided. Ms. Navarro describes how one woman would resort to panhandling to cover her costs:
“I found out this woman would go out everyday to 7-11 and panhandle so that she was able to pay for the program fee, which was $500. I’ve been in the field for over 20 years and these sorts of things do not make any sense to me!” stated Mady, “and I know for a fact that Grandma’s House receives a lot of money in contributions and donations…so I started questioning, what was the Executive Director doing with all the money that these women were not being fed properly!”
At one point, Mady even recalls attending one of Niko’s press conferences to support her, only to find Je’net urging Niko to promote GHH:
“I was shocked by this woman,” explained Mady, “She started handing out business cards to the attorneys, to the reporters – whoever was there she was handing out business cards.”
The incidents at GHH were too much for Mady that she brought them up with Director Je’ent during a meeting on Friday, November 16th that year.
“I brought it up as a concern,” says Mady, “I told her about the situation with the women, and I also noticed how there was no food in the house. Can we do anything about it? Can we write grants so that no one goes to bed hungry? …I really thought she would listen, or give me some feedback, or at least tell me things didn’t work out – well, that was not the case.”
On Monday, November 19th Mady Navarro was fired from GHH. Arguing a wrongful termination, she hired a lawyer only to be made an offer to keep silent:
“She [Je’net] tried to buy me, she tried to offer me whole month of Salary but that I would have to sign a confidentiality statement – but I was not going to sign anything that would not let me talk about my experience there and what I was seeing, she couldn’t buy me.”
Mady has since been unemployed.
Unaware at the time, Niko’s battle with Wells Fargo went beyond her fight for her home.
As it turns out, GHH has had numerous monetary contributions from Wells Fargo Bank in recent years. The Wells Fargo Foundation is listed by the non-profit organization as one of its “key supporters and donors” and in 2008 they were awarded the “Charity Choice of the Year” by Wells Fargo. In 2010, GHH reported that “for the third year in a row”the Wells Fargo Foundation granted funding for one of its programs and Wells Fargo Community Affairs Manager, Joan Toan presented Je’net a check for $10,00. In 2012, GHH received another $20,000 from the bank. To add to the list, GHH’s Board of Directors Treasurer and Secretary is Wells Fargo’s Principal Relationship Manager, Sean Phillips.