The Gan Rivkah Center gets no grant money from the government so they have to find a way to pay their bills and keep the house running. Since they are a 501c3 they are required every year to file their 990’s with the IRS, which they haven’t done for over two years.
The problem is that Hadassah Robeson isn’t good with money and doesn’t like to listen to good advice that countless volunteers in the community have offered to her. Time and time again people have stepped forward to help her out, offered legitimate criticism and a plan in order to get the GRC back on track, only to be accused of bullying by Hadassah.
According to Hadassah the money comes three three primary ways – 1) donations, 2) profits from the two businesses she owns, and 3) rent. We will delve into #2 and #3 in this blog, and will look more into the donation in the next installment.
Hadassah requires all residents to pay her in order to stay at the GRC. One of our bloggers (Bristol) found this out last week when she went undercover by pretending to be a homeless woman with a dog and a 10 year old boy, looking for a place to stay. The first thing out of Hadassah’s mouth was that she would have to get drug tested and pay the $40 it costs to get the testing done.
After that the pay structure was explained. Residents must pay 10% of their monthly income in the first month. After that it jumps to 20%, and after three months you become a “senior resident” and must pay 30%. We asked the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless if this was common, and the woman we spoke to made it clear that it’s not. These women are trying to get their lives together and saving up to get an apartment. If anything a small percentage is required and the shelter puts that money into an account that the residents get when they leave. When residents have to pay money so Hadassah can pay her mortgage it becomes difficult to save money, they get stuck their for longer, and they pay a higher percentage of their income. It’s why people like Fatimah are there for five years.
Hadassah responded to someone voicing this concern on Facebook today.
The residents are “more than happy to help out” according to management. Except they’re not according to the women we spoke with who stayed there. More alarming is the fact that Hadassah’s two grown kids live upstairs rent free. Under no circumstances should it be OK for women in such turmoil to pay money to live in a house where her grown children live for free.
Hadassah is on record as saying that she’s had as many as 32 residents staying in the house at once. But let’s be conservative about it and say you have 15 residents and 7 of them are wage earners averaging $2,000 a month in income. That would be $200 for first month residents, multiplied by 7, and you get $1,400. The house is assessed at $240,000, so a mortgage payment would probably be around $1,500. In that case the residents would be paying for the mortgage, and Hadassah would be gaining equity every month off of them, and denying their ability to save. If they were in their second month that number would double to $400 a month per person, and $600 if they were a “senior resident.”
A turtle rider brought this up to Hadassah and she responded.
They receive vouchers and rent assistance? From who? If they’re using money from the government to pay for their rent, then the GRC is in effect paid for by the taxpayers.
The fact that she willingly admits to collecting rent from residents makes her a landlord, and makes the GRC a boarding house, not a shelter. Boarding houses would be much more regulated by the government, and amongst other things they cannot evict people without going through a lot of red tape. Hadassah enjoys the benefits of being a landlord without the hassle. For instance, a resident we spoke with claims that Hadassah told her she had to pay $700 to stay there, and had her go to the ATM in the middle of the night to get it. When Hadassah found out that this woman was contacting concerned citizens on social media about her predicament Hadassah threw her out. The Milford Police were called to the house but would not step inside due to the foul odor emanating from within. As you can see from the police log, they know the house quite well.
Notice that one of the complaints was over a “landlord-tenant” dispute. Because Hadassah is acting as a landlord.
The second way she claims to fund the shelter is through her two businesses – Trinkets and Treasures (since 2017) and the Karma Cafe (formerly known as the Bread Bowl, founded in 2018).
I had the pleasure of touring both last week. Trinkets and Treasures is on your left. This is what I was greeted by there.
It’s just a warehouse for donated goods that we will discuss in part 4. The entire building is filled with donated goods.
On the right hand side is the vegan Karma Cafe. It fits 8-10 customers at a time, but none of them can face each other while eating their meals.
The kitchen looks like a residential kitchen, not one you would expect for an alleged restaurant.
Yet somehow the board of health and fire department both deemed this acceptable.
She showed me the menu.
I can’t imagine them getting much business, nor do they have a lot of space, so most of the things on that menu require a Vladimir trip to Stop n Shop when a rare customer does arrive.
She spent a good amount of time pointing things out to me that seemed wasteful and ridiculous. For instance, we spent five minutes evaluating this place mat.
It’s laminated, so when kids draw on it they can just erase it and reuse it instead of throwing it out. This is something she thought was important. There’s also a small train that runs around the edges of the bar seats. Hadassah, as we will see, spends money very unwisely and is proud of it.
The fact that Hadassah says that the shelter operates on profits from these two businesses doesn’t hold water. These businesses can’t possibly turn a profit, never mind generate so much profit that they can single handedly pay for two mortgages and rent at the store. You’d have to make double what the normal business does to pay for a mortgage just with your profits, and most restaurants don’t turn a profit until a couple years in.
In actuality, it’s the shelter that pays the bills for the restaurants. I know this because Hadassah invited me to look through her books for the GRC. I went through them line by line, much to her chagrin as she accused me of “nitpicking” and “looking for things to attack” her for. In reality I wanted to see each and every expenditure and what it was for, since she offered.
When I went to Milford I went with an open mind. Hadassah expressed to me beforehand that she was worried I was working with the people conspiring against her, and that I wouldn’t be honest. I reassured her that I had no angle except for the truth. If she could prove to me that the allegations against her were untrue then the story would be about this saintly woman being picked on by mean people in town. That’s why I thought it was odd that she’d invite me to look at her books if something nefarious was going on.
Turns out she didn’t really want me looking at her books unless she was narrating it and showing me what she wanted me to see. We started with late 2016 and made it a little more than halfway through 2017 before she grew hostile and angry and kicked me out of the Karma Cafe.
She held the pages and turned them whenever I asked a question about an expenditure. When I did ask questions she raised her voice and accused me of attacking her. She burst into tears spontaneously several times, which is a specialty of hers. She threatened to end the meeting and begin recording me. She wouldn’t let me take pictures of her records, but she would let me take notes about everything I saw in them, which is basically the same thing except more work for me.
She did let me take a picture of the first page from November 2016 and this is what it looks like.
I wanted to know what the $25.68 purchase for the Market Street address in San Francisco was for, but she wanted to talk about the blue highlighted portion showing a $1,000 deposit. According to her, blue deposits came from her bank account. She would flip to pages and point out deposits whenever I asked about a questionable purchase, as if that proved anything. Of course there’s going to be deposits into the account. The question is, where did that money come from? Does Hadassah have some side job that provides revenue that she puts into the GRC account? That’s what she would have us believe, but she can’t explain where any of the money comes from.
I did write down many of the purchases I thought seemed inappropriate, but she had an answer for everything. They included:
- Lots of trips out to eat, sometimes exceeding $100 including Acapulco’s, chain restaurants, Panera Bread, Sky Buffet, Dairy Queen. According to her she buys food at these places and brings it back to residents. Even if this were true, it’s a terrible waste of donor money.
- A New York trip to Lake George in 2016, in which she claims the residents came along
- Overdraft fees three times in a week
- RedBox purchases she claims were for residents
- Pandora radio subscription she claims is for arts and crafts class which she holds at Karma Cafe
- Dressily London purchases of $75.87 and $71,01, which she claims were for birthdays for residents.
- $15.04 for a hairdresser, which she claims was a tip given for barber who cut residents hair. I asked her why she would tip such a peculiar number and she struggled to find an answer.
- A check for $65 to Milford District Court on 4/20/17, which she claims was for fees for a resident. What fees? She didn’t know. And even if it were true it would still be inappropriate spending of donated money.
- On 6/12/17 there was a $57.12 purchase at a Market Street, San Francisco. She had no explanation for what that was, but said it was a local business.
- There was a $500 check to Attorney Harland Smith, who she claims she hired to go after Nate Dishington, who she alleges stole jewelry from her store. She says Dishington was her former landlord for business before it moved to current location. There is no record of her having another business in Milford. In fairness, Harland Smith was recently disbarred for stealing from clients. She claims that this check was a down payment and that Harland Smith never did what she paid him to do. Either way, why is she spending donated money on a shady attorney to go after a landlord she’s mad at?
- $706.17 paid to Liberty Insurance, which she claims was for a van she uses to drive around residents.
- In July of 2017 I noticed that there were two checks for $500 and $700 written to a Ray Egan, which she did not want me to see, and she told me she didn’t want his name brought into this. According to Hadassah this is her landlord for the store. I thought it was odd to pay two rent checks in one month, and Hadassah told me that the $500 was for the first three months rent, while the $700 was for the next month after that. This clearly doesn’t make any sense, but the point is that she admitted that money from the GRC, which comes from residents and donors, is used to finance her “business,” which is really more of an expensive hobby than it is a business.
- $164.85 on 9/18/17 that she couldn’t tell me what it was for
- 10/2/17 – Unaccounted for tab at Central Tavern
A volunteer who once worked with Hadassah, and had access to her bank accounts, provided me with the statement for May and June 2018. Take a look.
I see money on there used for purchases at Whiskey on Water, a bar in Worcester. I see $306 being spent on Mary Kay, and another purchase made at the Compass Tavern – a Worcester bar down the street from Whiskey on Water.
Here you see purchases for Metro PCS, Liquor World, and Staples.
In the books that I saw there were frequent purchases made at liquor stores. According to her she was buying cigarettes for residents on $14 purchases. That seems like too much for one pack, but not enough for two. Regardless, why is donated money being spent on cigarettes for residents? If you saw that a shelter was begging for money to stay open and gave them a donation, how would you feel if it was buying cigarettes for people inside?
Here’s more purchases from Party City, Google, and Staples.
On this one you see a $477.64 check, an overdraft fee, multiple EZ Pass violations, and cash withdrawals.
According to her that check was used to pay for the car that her son David, whose real name is actually Russell, drove around. So again, her grown son was living rent free, and having his car paid for my residents and donors.
I saw a $100 purchase at Acapulco’s, $39.97 at Hickey’s Wine, a phone payment, Staples, Panera Bread….
The main reason I began looking into this story is because of this Facebook post Hadassah made on July 24.
According to her Eversource had been digging up her street for three months. Except it was really only a couple of days. And according to her there were “customers” who contacted her to let her know that they were planning on coming in for a meal, but changed their mind because they couldn’t park. Except this was posted the next day on a Milford Facebook group.
And this is how I found it a week later.
In other words, the construction wasn’t the reason no one was coming in. The reason no one was coming in is because there’s no appetite for a Vegan cafe with 8 seats facing a wall in Milford. Nevertheless, she found a way to be victimized by this and used it to start a $5,000 GoFundMe for the Gan Rivkah Center, because these two businesses exist to create a profit which then goes to the GRC, according to her.
It’s very clear here that the shelter subsidizes the business, and not vice versa. This restaurant and trinket store is nothing more than an expensive hobby, paid for by residents and donors. We will get more into the donors in Part 4, and we’re looking at at least six blogs at this point. Stay tuned, and again we urge you to contact the following people to let them know about what youre reading here. They have the power to stop this and are doing nothing. Contact the Milford and Metrowest Daily News while you’re at it too.
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