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UPDATE: Local Nonprofit Tries to Survive Against the Odds

After five months of internal struggle, the legitimate board of directors and Executive Director of ANSIL are beginning to re-engage with the local community to resume the work of helping homeless young adults and providing services to the homeless population in the Tri-Cities.

As reported in February, ANSIL was struggling to physically remove the former board president, Lisa Colville, from the organization's office premises after voting her out as board president in December 2020.

As a result of Colville's refusal to leave the organization headquarters and her subsequent actions to instate her own, illegitimate board of directors made up of her family members and other individuals not previously associated with ANSIL, the legitimate board had to seek legal counsel.

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An advisory letter prepared by Gravis Law in December 2020, spells out the illegitimacy of Colville's actions and the appropriate steps taken to remove her according to the organization bylaws and state law. A cease and desist letter was also prepared and delivered to Colville at the same time.

In the months since seeking a legal remedy, the ANSIL board and Executive Director have been relatively silent and disengaged with the community as required by the legal process. However, there have been recent new decisions made by the board in how to recover and move forward because of the disruption in services caused by this situation, and the needs of some of the program participants going unmet.

It has become increasingly urgent that Executive Director, Tobaski Snipes resume his mentoring and support for the young adults in the program, as well as relationship building with volunteers and other organizations with whom ANSIL has partnered in the past. Mr. Snipes had this to say "it's been hard on the community, volunteers and program participants not knowing who to believe, who is in charge. When you have someone insisting they are, while saying untrue and vicious things, it's our word against theirs until it's decided in the court or until they show their true colors."

The legitimate ANSIL board has decided to let their true colors be seen by allowing Mr. Snipes to reach out to the community and speak out about what is needed, and what the mission and vision for moving forward is.

The legitimate ANSIL board has also taken its share of constructive criticism from insiders and outsiders alike. The board acknowledged that there was still much foundational work needed. Building repairs, planning, policies, and procedures were just beginning to be implemented in September, October, and November 2020 when much-needed funding was on the horizon. All of that came to a halt due to the actions taken by Colville and the subsequent focus by the board on legal remedies.

One of the founding board members, Crystal Willingham said "we have wanted to be fully transparent with this issue since it began so that we could move past it and cause the least amount of stress to everyone involved. Since December, we have learned a lot about the legal process, how to function effectively as a nonprofit board, and ultimately how we want to operate ANSIL. The young people we serve are our top priority and we have been failing them since December. It is time for us to refocus on what's really important and work together to bring ANSILs mission back into focus."

As the organization resumes seeking help from the community, they still have to address concerns from law enforcement and city officials, as well as deal with the inability to raise much-needed funding due to Colville's grip on banking and financial resources in ANSILs name.

"We'll carry on without fundraising if necessary. We did it before (when the organization was starting up) and we can do it again. What's important now is the mental and emotional well-being of our kids. We're the only family many of them have. We have got to be there for them." Executive Director, Snipes had to say.

The board of directors wants the community to know the truth and also wants to move forward with community support. "We're open to discussion on alternative ideas to litigation at this point," said Board President Lynn Carlson. "We're reaching out to the community with the hope that more solutions come to light. Thanks to one of our community members, we are in discussion with the Washington State Attorney General's office and hopefully, their investigation will yield a positive outcome for all."

"We are a grassroots organization here to do good for those in need...that has to count for something," board member Floriene Turlington had to say. "I joined ANSIL two years ago to help the organization provide the kind of help I needed as a young woman because I care about the future of young people in my community. I am dedicated to this mission and I want the community to know we'll get past this... we're here to stay."

"We're ready to get back to work, doing what's right and caring for those who have needs... I've personally seen the benefits of this kind of outreach and believe in ANSIL" Minister Maggie Horat, ANSIL board member said.

The name "ANSIL a new start in life" is now a registered trademark of the organization and a community-led Facebook group and petition have been started. (Insert links here) Community members are encouraged to sign, join and help the ANSIL board, Executive Director, and program participants.

The Washington State Attorney General's office has an informal complaint resolution service for Washington state residents, and for consumers with complaints about businesses located in Washington state. Visit their website to learn more.

Any questions, feedback, or suggestions can be communicated through the ANSIL website

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