Sallies turn down money from pokies
The Salvation Army’s decision not to accept money collected from pokie machines has come under fire from the chairwoman of Mana Community Grants Foundation.
After Kapi-Mana News ran a story in a recent issue about the pressure on food banks, Litea Ah Hoi asked on Facebook whether it came down to ‘‘the moral high ground or hungry children?’’
Pam Waugh, the Salvation Army’s national secretary for social services and former director of Porirua Community Ministries, confirmed it stopped receiving funding derived from gambling in 2008.
Until 2007, it applied for $25,000 for itself and on behalf of four other non-Salvation Army food banks.
Ms Ah Hoi said after reading the Kapi-Mana News article she thought it ironic that the Salvation Army would like people to fill their food bank shelves, but turn down her organisation’s money.
‘‘It’s a decision made by people in glass offices, rather than thinking about the situation in Porirua.
‘‘ Surely, these Salvation Army captains [in charge of local ministries] know their communities so much better. Shouldn’t they be making local decisions?’’
Ms Ah Hoi said the ‘‘ other irony’’ was that people in eastern Porirua, who were most likely to be struggling, were the ones who would donate to the foodbanks.
Ms Ah Hoi said though many of those who gambled at pokie machines were Maori and Pacific, Mana Community Grant Foundation gave thousands of dollars every year back to the Porirua community.
She named Plunket, Wellington Free Kindergarten, Whitireia Community Law Centre and Riding for the Disabled as some of their recipients.
‘‘I don’t want to bash the Sallies, because goodness knows they are doing many good things, but plenty of other religious societies and churches accept our money.’’
Ms Waugh said figures showed that from 2007, 14 per cent of Salvation Army clients were problem gamblers, 32 per cent were affected by another person’s gambling and 75 per cent of those households contained children.
‘‘ With a significant number of impoverished and very distressed people coming to us and citing gambling as a major cause of their situation, it would be hypocritical and wrong to accept money from an activity that is hurting our clients,’’ she said.
‘‘ It often takes many years to recover from the fallout of problem gambling in a family.’’
While their income initially dipped after implementing their stance, it recovered as public donations increased and new corporate supporters came on board, she said.
St Vincent de Paul and Wesley Community Mission received $2000 and $ 30,000, respectively, from Mana Community Grants in the last financial year.
Other major recipients in the past year include Titahi Bay Lions ($100,000), Ole Football Academy ($100,000), Northern United Rugby Club ($ 90,000), Western Suburbs Soccer Club ($ 78,000) and Kapi Mana Netball ($75,000).