Sunday, August 28, 2016

CAMPAIGN: Tips for political advocacy

As this political season swings into high gear ("high" meaning increased activity, not an increase in civil and intelligent debate), people who advertise their choice of candidate via campaign signs and bumper stickers really should be mindful of a few things.
If you put your candidate's sticker on a stop sign, that sends an ambiguous message.
If you're a rude or aggressive driver and your car sports a political bumper sticker, you're not doing your candidate any favors in the mind of the driver whom you cut off in traffic.
And if you're selling your house, it might not be such a good idea to put up a political yard sign. Emotions are running so high that you might well immediately turn off a buyer from the other party ("X supporters live there?! Just keep driving, Honey."). I actually saw such a situation in Chatham and could only feel sorry for the real-estate agent.

FRAUD: Only a friend can betray you!

The Chester County Controller's Office is putting on an excellent seminar to help nonprofit groups prevent fraudulent use of their hard-earned money.
I attended the presentation in Modena on Aug. 23 with Controller Norman MacQueen, Deputy Controller Carol Pollitz, and Internal Audit Manager Sharon Kay Jones, and found it to be so interesting and relevant that I didn't even remove my knitting from my workbag (I will never finish these socks!).
Ms. Jones started by giving alarming examples of fraud committed by Chester County residents. I was amazed by the amount of money stolen and the slipshod controls that were in place. She explained that the number-one reason why people steal from nonprofits is that they're living beyond their means. They get away with it because people trust them and don't want to believe that a friend could do such a thing.
Ms. Jones then outlined practical recommendations that can help prevent insider fraud, like having two people present and alert at all times when handling cash (say, when selling tickets at a high school football game). I was happy and relieved to note that almost all are in place in the nonprofit group I work with.
About a dozen people attended, representing an array of nonprofits, including churches, youth groups and fire companies. They were all nonprofit veterans and offered excellent examples of accounting lapses they'd witnessed. One woman said her church used to allow volunteers to write checks to themselves for reimbursement.
"No, that's not happening any more," she said she told them when she took over.
There was a lively debate about whether volunteers should be allowed to use credit or debit cards. Although it's traditionally frowned on, with today's technology, procurement cards (or "p-cards") can be set with a ceiling for purchases, and use can be limited to certain places.
I highly recommend this useful seminar for all treasurers and other officers. The folks from the Controller's Office said they planned to repeat it this fall, so keep an eye out for an announcement.

Friday, August 26, 2016

KFC: Herbs and spices and kindness

A local woman named Tracy shared this lovely story about "an unbelievably good experience" she had at the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on West Cypress Street in Kennett on Aug. 21. She writes:
"I have had a long week...and with no food in the house and 3 guys at home trying to do a truck repair all day, nobody had time to grocery shop while I was out today. Empty cupboards, stressed-out men, and a 6-year-old child with a friend who needed to be driven home all culminated in a trip to the Kennett Square KFC for a bucket of fried chicken.
"Unfortunately, after placing my rather large order I realized I had NO form of payment. No credit/debit card or cash. I quickly drove to the pick-up window and told the employee that I would need to cancel my order and why.
"After a few minutes she came back and told me that the manager had paid for my order and to enjoy my night.
"Wait. What? Seriously...THAT. JUST. HAPPENED. KFC on West Cypress Street. Thank you!"

OLYMPIANS: Rails, ales and medals

The amazing Olympic gold medal winner Cierra Runge made a stop at The Whip here in West Marlborough the evening of Aug. 22 after visiting the Jennersville YMCA, where she started her swimming career.
I wasn't at The Whip that night, but the photographs are funny: the Cochranville native is six-foot-four and towers over everyone. I don't realize how tall she is because I usually see her next to her similarly tall teammates.
The following night I ran into Chester County Fire Marshal John Weer, who met her at The Whip, and he said she was great fun and happily posed for photos with her gold medal.
"What's funny is that Boyd Martin was having dinner there and just left before she showed up!" he said. (Boyd Martin, of course, is a local Olympian equestrian who was also on Team USA in Rio.)

NEW BOOK: "Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay"

My friend Nancy Sakaduski's new children's book is called "The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay" and it looks adorable.
Here's a synopsis: "A storm has hit coastal Delaware and washed a young mermaid named Nibi across land and into Rehoboth Bay, separating her from her family, friends, and ocean home. Terra, a young girl who lives nearby, is afraid of the water, so she misses out on swimming with her friends and wading in the bay to collect shells. The two discover each other, become friends, and find a way to solve their problems together."
It's available at The Growing Tree, 114 W. State St., Kennett Square; the Hockessin Book Shelf, 7179 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin; Oranges & Lemons, 3856 Kennett Pike, Greenville; and Captain Blue Hen Comics, 280 E. Main St., Newark.


HOOD'S: Get your ribs while you can

Hood's BBQ in Unionville will be closed from Monday, Sept. 5, through Friday, Sept. 9. They'll be reopening on Saturday, Sept. 10. The nerve of the Hood clan: they are actually taking a family vacation! Like they don't spend enough family time together running the restaurant six days a week!

TRACK: UHS cross-country

The Young Relative started his UHS running career on Aug. 25 at the Bayard Rustin High School in West Chester. The brand-new cross-country course takes the runners all over the sprawling campus in a loop that they ran twice. The Tally-ho family support crew -- as usual, five strong -- got a great view of the competitors as they ran across a distant hilltop, emerged from the woods and scaled a steep, long bank that looked like it belonged in the Plantation Field equestrian competition.
"Wow, I want to try that hill," I remarked idly.
"So go ahead!" replied my brother, a certain note of challenge in his voice. 
At that point I was very glad I had chosen to wear sandals instead of sneakers.
"Some other time," I said. "Definitely. For sure."
The Y.R. is now competing against some very fast youths who are seniors, which means that all of us have to shift our attitudes a bit. For one thing, we got used to the locations of all the middle-school track sites; now we have to learn where the high-school competitions are!