To the Editor:
In response to Nis Kildegaard’s article, “Charity navigating,” October 6, 2011, my name is Bob Ogden, fondly known as Deputy Bob or Officer Bob to the thousands of children who have benefited from the Dukes County Sheriff’s office’s D.A.R.E. program and the D.A.R.E. Operations Challenge Ropes Course here on Martha’s Vineyard. I am also president of the Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, which financially supports the D.A.R.E. program and other public service endeavors like T.R.I.A.D. and Project Life Saver. These programs have been widely praised in the school system and the elderly population as valuable and indispensable assets to the Island community. But without the support of the Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, in these trying economic times, they would simply cease to exist.
I have a story, although not as entertaining as Mr. Kildegaard’s interrogation of a child trying to make a few bucks for a school band trip. I had the pleasure of attending a Martha’s Vineyard High School girls field hockey game the other day. The J.V.’s were winning another game, and a mother approached me to thank the association for the $1,000 donation we had made to the 53-student team. Unfortunately the high school’s athletic budget could not fully support the team this year, and our donation would go a long way to providing uniforms and equipment for the girls.
As I turned to acknowledge the woman, I noticed the high school track team running by and recalled the thousands of dollars the association has provided over the years for hurdles, uniforms, and equipment. I began to leave when a man tapped me on the shoulder and asked if the association had sent out the annual check for the M.V. Youth Hockey League. I assured him the $500 donation was in the mail and made a mental note to check on the status of support to the high school girls hockey team. It occurred to me, as I scanned the many high school fields filled with young athletes, our association has been able to financially support every athletic team that has ever reached out to us for help.
Our charitable giving does not end with athletics; we also provide $6,000 in annual scholarships to graduating seniors pursuing higher education, as well as student educational trips abroad and in the United States. We have supported student programs in the arts as well. In the past school year the association gave $2,400 to the all‑Island eighth grade graduation celebration, an innovative project bringing together graduating eighth graders from every elementary school across the Island, as a first step of indoctrination into high school life. There is no end to the list of Islanders who benefit from your contributions to the Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association.
We have been singled out several times over the years by The Martha’s Vineyard Times in reference to our method of fundraising and use of All-Pro Productions Inc. as our professional solicitor. To be fair, we are not alone in our use of paid campaign managers or professional solicitors to operate fundraising endeavors on Martha’s Vineyard. Our meager membership of less than 30 hardworking deputies have very little free time to commit to a campaign lasting months.
Also, as public employees of the Commonwealth, deputies are prohibited from raising money on their own, as this would be a violation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Ethics Commission’s “conflict of interest” opinion, ECCOI-93-6. The percentage of funds retained by the Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs Association through All-Pro’s 2010 drive was clearly not 16%. In reality the association netted approximately $40,000, which was 100% distributed back into the island community.
All-Pro Productions Inc. is a business, and they do make money, but claiming they “pocket” or “profit” 63 percent of the money they raise is unfair and unrealistic. Personnel, overhead costs, office rental fees, boat tickets, transportation, and phone cost are not taken into consideration when reflecting their profit. They have tirelessly worked with our organization for over a decade to ensure the greatest possible return on your donation. You don’t need to believe me or rely on a narrow minded newspaper like The Times. Ask your neighbors and friends what the Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association has done and will continue to do for the community of Martha’s Vineyard.
I agree with Nis and urge everyone who donates money to educate themselves before supporting a charitable organization, although I would be leery about going to the site Nis suggests, as they too ask for a donation for their services. Ironic, isn’t it?
The Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and I deeply appreciate your continued support and look forward to serving you for many years to come.
Robert W. Ogden
Dukes County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association