- Associated Press - Thursday, December 21, 2017

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A long-serving Davenport charity that provides after-school programs and other services to the eastern Iowa community is shutting down amid questions over its spending, lawsuits and a loss of donors.

United Neighbors, Inc. on Wednesday informed staff and the children and parents it serves that it is closing, the Quad-City Times reported . The board of directors voted in favor of closing on Tuesday.

“They were crying and it was so bad,” Executive Director Evelyn Nelson said of the children. “They didn’t even want to open their Christmas gifts. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

United Neighbors has been struggling for more than a year since it fired its former executive director and three staff members. Nelson took over after the board discovered the mismanagement of agency funds.

The former executive director and employees sued the agency and Nelson for breach of contract and recovery of unpaid wages, compensation and benefits.

Questions about spending prompted the Iowa Finance Authority to suspend funding and demand repayment of $235,600 in grants. The agency also lost funding from private donors and federal block grants.

“Many of our funders and donors were put off by the lawsuits the agency is facing and refused to give,” the board said in a statement.

The board said that for community members without the resources to thrive, “the loss of United Neighbors will be a travesty.”

“It is our sincere hope that our clients will find a replacement for the services that our agency has provided to them and that they remain on a firm standing of hope, success and accomplishment,” the statement said.

The agency will officially close Thursday.


Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

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