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Deaf Service Center responds to letter

Editor: The Deaf Service Center of Pasco County Inc. wishes to respond to certain inaccuracies in the letter to the editor June 1 by George Herzman regarding the agency and its service to the community.

The DSC of Pasco County Inc. has provided service to the community for over a decade. During that time, the agency experienced many challenges, including an increased demand for service and the need for increased funding.

In late 1990, the DSC was left without an executive director during a crucial funding period. The organization was operating at a loss. The board of directors, via the executive committee, was offered an opportunity to hire an interim director, Debra A. Prewitt. At the time, she was vice chairwoman of the board and a member of the New Port Richey City Council. She resigned as vice chairwoman to accept the interim position. The executive committee fully understood her City Council commitments and recognized the benefits of having such a high profile director. Prior to filing for the office of mayor, she discussed her intentions with the executive committee and was met with unanimous support from the entire board of directors.

The executive director position with the DSC and mayoral duties for the city of New Port Richey fall into the category of "public service." We believe each entity benefits from her involvement. For example, she represents the DSC in her involvement with the Community Services Council of West Pasco. As the mayor, she is a member of the Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. The networking and information exchange that take place at both meetings are invaluable to the DSC. In addition, Ms. Prewitt has made herself available for public education forums on behalf of the DSC from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., any day of the week.

Reference is made to the DSC's business manager. This individual has been associated with the DSC since 1987, three years prior to Ms. Prewitt's employment, serves at the board's request and functions on an as-needed basis for accounting purposes on a monthly retainer. An outside third party ensures full scale checks and balances with regard to the agency's financial status in accordance with generally accepted accounting procedures. The agency saves money and time utilizing the "staff leasing" approach. This concept also is implemented by other not-for-profit organizations.

In addition, an annual audit is conducted for the agency by an independent certified public accountant. It is and has been the policy of this volunteer board to maximize the utilization of available financial resources and to require that adequate financial records are maintained.

According to audited records for the fiscal year ending September 1992, 69 percent of our funds were expended in the delivery of services, 24 percent in management and general and 8 percent in fund raising and grant development costs. Our financial status for the first two quarters of this fiscal year is even more encouraging. We utilized 75 percent of our funds for direct services, 20 percent for management and general and 5 percent for fund raising and grant development.

The DSC board is convinced that to grow and expand our services, we must secure additional funding. It is our belief that the executive director should be responsible for securing funding from private foundations, corporations, individual contributors and other appropriate sources. The board, therefore, requires these types of efforts from the executive director as part of her job responsibilities. These efforts necessitate activities outside the agency. In addition, we believe in offering incentives for successes achieved, not merely those attempted! Ms. Prewitt has truly achieved success by securing additional funding in order to provide enhanced services to the community.

The DSC is a private, not-for-profit corporation recognized as such by IRS as a 501 (c) (3) corporation. Although we are prohibited from utilizing the funds of the agency to contribute to political action committees, we do have the right to protect the agency as a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit regarding Pasco County's bingo ordinance. Our agency may lose in excess of $8,000 per year, without due process of law, as a result of this ordinance. The $8,000 in revenue translates into 320 hours of sign language interpreter services. Therefore, the board agreed to participate as an affected party in this case. We feel it is our obligation to protect the current and future funding of the agency. There are no restrictions on our right to seek redress for a grievance in a court of law.

The DSC recognizes the need for increased services in Pasco County. Over the past three years we have expanded to assist those who are hard of hearing and have limited access to services and assistance. We look forward to an integrated youth program for after school and summer sessions. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, our agency has accepted the enormous responsibility of providing community education on equal access to private and public sector entities, as it applies to their industry, under this comprehensive federal law. We also have been requested to review self-evaluation plans and make recommendations to many government affiliations.

The DSC is the lead agency regarding communication facilitation via certified/qualified sign language interpreters. We confer with private and public entities regarding the proper equal access provision, taking into consideration the client's communication mode and the situation's complexity. We advise service providers that people who "know" sign language are not necessarily certified/qualified interpreters. There is a national certification process as well as a state qualification process to determine the skill of interpreters. The DSC complies with these industry standards and appoints only those who have the necessary credentials.

Kenneth J. Swann, Chairman

Keith Hammond, Vice Chairman

Mark Gregson, Treasurer

Lisa Schultz, Secretary

DSC Executive Committee

Victims have plenty

of names for storm

Editor: Even though the media persists in calling the March disaster a "no name" storm, they should hear some of the names it has been called by its victims which, though descriptive, would hardly be recommended for publication in a family newspaper.

J.R. Hiser,


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