Controversy hounds Avendanos as MHHS holds board election

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  • There’s a lot of controversy swirling as a Vancouver group rooted in the Filipino community prepares to elect new board directors on July 28.

    From alleged discrepancies in financial reporting to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to the supposedly questionable selling of costly insurance premiums to caregivers and claims of an emerging Avendano dynasty in the organization, the tempest has rocked the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) to its foundations.

    At the centre of the tumult is Tomas ‘Tatay Tom’ Avendano Sr., a cofounder of the MHHS and its long-time president and CEO. Tatay Tom is running for another term in the board on July 28.

    Caught in the controversy is Avendano’s brother Demetrio ‘Demi’ Avendano, who is also a member of the current board like Tatay Tom and a candidate as well in the July 28 board election.

    Also included is Tatay Tom’s son Benedicto or Benny, who is seeking to join his father and uncle Demetrio in the board by running for director.

    The emergence of the so-called Avendano dynasty was made by public by a group called the Concerned Friends of Helping House.

    Through the blog https://concernedfriendsof.wixsite.com/website, the Concerned Friends of Helping House has publicized the call to clean up the organization, including an audit of the MHHS Foundation that Tatay Tom also heads.

    The ReyFort Media Group sought Tatay Tom’s comment, and he said that the Avendano family has done a lot of work for MHHS.

    “Ipakita nila ang nagawa nila na tulong at pantayan nila ang nagawa ng mga Avendano sa Multi,” Tatay Tom said about the Concerned Friends of Helping House. “Everybody knows how much we had dedicated our time energy to put up this beautiful building and to look for funding to run programs to provide services to those who most need it.”

    “We need volunteers but only few came to help at where are the so-called Concerned Friends?” Tatay Tom also said.

    Avendano also said that his family does not intend to lord it over the MHHS.

    “I need help to run the society,” Tatay Tom said.

    [Publisher’s Note: For purposes of disclosure – ReyFort Media Group’s Rey Fortaleza, publisher of Philippine Asian News Today, is running in the July 28 election for one of the seats in the MHHS board.]

    The MHHS is a charitable organization dedicated to helping newcomers to Canada succeed in their country.

    It was the organization that succeeded the Filipino Canadian Support Services Society (FCSSS).

    In its latest post at https://concernedfriendsof.wixsite.com/website, the Concerned Friends of Helping House called for an audit of the financial records of the MHHS Foundation headed by Tatay Tom.

    The foundation owns the land and building of MHHS, and MHHS pays rent to the foundation.

    According to the Concerned Friends of Helping House, the MHHS Foundation reported a rental income of $36,613 to Canada Revenue Agency or CRA in 2017.

    “However, the MHHS Society paid the Foundation total rent in 2017 of $68,324,” the group noted on its blog.

    This means a supposedly unaccounted amount of $31,711 “that remains undeposited at the end of 2017”.

    “In addition, this does not take into account the rent paid by the renters of the respite housing as well as renters of the other tenants such as the Church rental for purpose of Sunday Service. A generous estimate for this would approximately be $2,500 per month or $30,000 per year,” the Concerned Friends of Helping House claimed.

    In another post, the group claimed that Tatay Tom is involved in the selling of insurance to caregivers seeking assistance from MHHS.

    The insurance business is allegedly run by a lady who is said to be personally close to Tatay Tom.

    “Worse, there are further confirmed stories that should the caregiver decide to stop paying the premiums and opt out of the insurance plan that they have signed into due to the monthly financial burden it has caused, they are suddenly found to be no longer welcome as a member of the MHHS caregiver group,” the Concerned Friends of Helping House claimed.

    In a separate twist that is also connected to the July 28 MHHS board election, past MHHS president and board member Concepcion “Ching” Colobong claimed “vindication” in a Facebook post in her fight to be recognized as a board member.

    Colobong ran for a new term as director in 2016, but she claimed that the Avendano-led board denied her a seat at the board.

    Colobong’s claim of vindication came after Tatay Tom issued a formal letter apologizing to her.

    “This apology may come late, but I am knocking on your good self to understand and allow your forgiving heart to prevail,” Tatay Tom wrote to Colobong.

    Tatay Tom also noted Colobong’s concern over the roles played by his brother Demetrio and another person, Marilou Yodogawa.

    In letters to the MHHS, Colobong stated that Yodogawa, who took a seat in the board after the 2016 election, was not qualified to run as board member per MHHS constitution because she still then a paid MHHS staff member.

    Yodogawa was allowed to run for MHHS director in 2016 by the nomination committee headed by Tatay Tom’s brother, Demetrio ‘Demi’ Avendano.

    In the July 28 MHHS board election, Yodogawa is running for a new term, alongside Tatay Tom, Demetrio, and Tatay Tom’s son Benedicto or Benny.

    Colobong is running for a new term in the MHHS board.

    The July 28 election is part of the MHHS annual general assembly, which may become heated as questions may be raised by members about how the organization is being managed by Avendano.

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