Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Experience At Central Care Mission

Until recently, I have been associated with Central Care Mission (CCM) for most of a decade. I think the goals of CCM are quite noble, which is nothing less than saving a man's immortal soul. This goal has no doubt been achieved in a number of cases, however, in many other cases this has not happened. I would say this failure is mainly due to the fact that the individual in need was turned away because the needed bed space was not available, since it is often occupied by sociopath individuals who gained admission on the basis of lies told to the input manager and Executive Director of CCM, William Lowry who opts for the dictator style of leadership and often overrules the Staff of CCM on matter of personnel placement.

While employed by CCM as a driver, I had many discussions with Pastor Lowry on the often complete lack of respect on the part of many clients in regards to staff who gained admission to CCM while flying false colors based on their sociopathic personalities. This is based on my experience as driver where on many occasions I was the victim of these clients who often cursed me and made threats of bodily harm. These incidents were reported to Pastor Lowry, who to my knowledge never expelled the client for his misconduct. In fact, in most of these incidents Pastor Lowry blamed me for causing the affair. I will admit to not being the most tolerant Christian in existence, but in my dealings with sociopaths the anger they direct against an individual is done for the purpose of controlling that person. I cannot be controlled in this manner, so this made me a frequent target.

This abuse usually ended with nothing more than profanity, but on at least one occasion, I was physically attacked. This unprovoked assault was observed by a number of clients and reported immediately to Pastor Lowry, who, when he finally found the time to talk, as usual blamed the incident on me, and despite his rule that acts of physical violence would be met with client being expelled from CCM and charged under the civil code, he allowed this individual to remain at CCM just as he did in another incident where two CCM clients engaged in a knock down drag out fight in front of the Mission.

In my opinion those who make threats of physical violence and who engage in physical violence should immediately be expelled from CCM as a safety measure for both staff and clients. When the guidelines are not followed other CCM clients who are border line cases get the idea that the inmates run the asylum and can do as they please. Many times I described my role as driver like that of a lion tamer, you learn never to turn your back on the dangerous "cats." While being a lion tamer may be acceptable for the circus as entertainment it is not good policy in a drug rehab where the client has admitted he is powerless over a chemical and needs direction.

While the verbal and physical suffered by me at the hands of CCM clients was impressive it was not the deciding factor in my leaving the institution. The decisive factor was the authoritarianism and the many lies told to me by Pastor Lowry. This pattern of deception goes back to my employment at CCM as "House Manager" in 2004. I was promised no salary in the original unwritten contact I was allowed ample time off to work a "side job." This arrangement only happened for a limited amount of time and in reality I was expected to be on duty 24/7, although in compensation, I was given a private room, bathroom and access to an office and computer.

In short order I found that I had no real authority as "House Manager" and Pastor Lowry refused to back me up. The clients quickly discovered that I had no backing at the executive level and a state of anarchy quickly developed. As always in the my dealings with Pastor Lowry he blamed the victim for a situation he created, and so in the course of the next 18 months, I was removed from even the appearance of authority -- I was "reborn" by Pastor Lowry as simply a "Driver" with only driving duties and exiled to a dormitory. This was accomplished without discussion with me and done in violation of the unwritten contract between myself and Pastor Lowry. I should note that an unwritten contract has the same force of law as a written one. I did not protest to the church authorities at the time, as it was my humble opinion that such complaint would be ignored and I would lose my job and residence. I should also note that the conditions of my employment made it impossible for me to build up savings and this fact was well known Pastor Lowry who took full advantage of my exposed Achilles Heel.

I do not have time to go into every single incident in my three years as an employee of CCM, but one incident happened that I found very curious -- The safe in Pastor Lowry's office disappeared - according to Pastor Lowry-- in the middle of the day. I should note that I was present in an office just down the hallway at the time the safe allegedly disappeared and I saw and heard nothing. I think this was "an inside job" done by a staff member. I think that one person in particular would have the opportunity and the necessary insider knowledge to do the evil deed, but I have no proof and I'll not make a charge. I will only say that it has been well proven by law enforcement that most crimes are done by the employees and management of a company.

In regards to finances at CCM - I am of the opinion that accountability by Pastor Lowry is not being done. I understand that Pastor Lowry is a minister of the church and well trusted, but I agree with Ronald Reagan who once said, "Trust but Verify." I wonder who in the church monitors Pastor Lowry? As just one example, I will cite the problem with the gas money for the vehicles that often doesn't exist because the money has been removed from the envelope by Pastor Lowry. Thus on many occasions I've taken money out of my own pocket to get clients to and from work. This problem was solved for a short time when Herb Wright, the Director of Central Care Mission, purchased gas cards at Wal Mart. After only a few weeks this was changed by Pastor Lowry who noticed that plastic money can be used at only one vendor limited his options.

I will illustrate how powerless Herb Wright has been rendered by Pastor Lowry let me relate a brief story -- Recently the windshield wiper on one of the vans was in need of replacement. , so I asked Herb Wright for less than $20 to accomplish this replacement. Mr. Wright responded. "I'll have to ask William for the money and I'll get back to you." He never did and I replaced the wipers out of own pocket. This was quite a common happening at CCM, small amounts of money were requested for needed repairs by Mr. Wright who took the matter up to Pastor Lowry who "thought about" the matter for some amount of time, or simply forgot about the matter altogether. I should note that Pastor Lowry carries large amounts of money on his person, which could be quickly in play for needed repairs and so forth, although carrying large amounts of money on one's person leads to questions of security and also brings into play the reason why an executive in charge of a nonprofit would need large amounts of cash on his person when bankcards are taken nearly everywhere and provide security and accountability.

One former staff member at CCM who worked as Employment Manager for many years described Pastor Lowry as the "Protestant Pope" -- an individual who believes himself above the law based on his position in the church. I think this is an accurate characterization of the Pastor Lowry I know; in fact, he told me on one occasion just before I departed CCM and was thinking seriously about making a complaint to the church authorities about his many shortcomings as the Executive Director of CCM, "Go talk to anyone in the church you want to, they have no authority over me. I am accountable to no one. This is the way I've arranged things." My response was to quote Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

There is no question in my formerly military mind that Pastor Lowry is corrupt. I do not know to what degree. I have no way of knowing because all things financial at CCM are a "State Secret" known only by Pastor Lowry who, according to his own confession to me, feels above accountability....above the law. I cannot help but think of the German philosopher Nietzsche's "Superman" -- an individual beyond good and evil. Pastor Lowry a Pagan? Perhaps -yes...Perhaps - no, but he does seem to have missed those passages in the Bible where Jesus separated the Church and State. He also seems to have missed the history lesson where it is recorded the tyranny created by the Roman Catholic Church for over 1,000 years when it attempted to directly rule Europe.

Central Care Mission is an institution in real need of reorganization. I've noticed that the Salvation Army in Orlando has removed the religious authorities "The Soldiers" from direct involvement with its clients at the Men's Shelter. This has come about because of the endless complaints about the heavy handed approach of the SA religious authorities, "The Soldiers," who abused the clients. The new staff is secular and very professional who take care of the day-to-day government of the Men's Shelter while "The Soldiers" take care to things spiritual. These reforms have led to much greater success by the Salvation Army.

I say that just such a reform is needed at CCM. The religious executive in charge of CCM needs to separated from the day-to-day mostly secular activities and focused entirely on the religious. The Director of CCM needs to be exactly that -- In total charge of day-to-day operations and the selection of clients. Below the level of Director other staff members must be selected and given the authority to make decisions without fear of reversal. I would suggest the position of "House Manager" below that of Director who lives on the property. Beneath the House Manager would be the "Dorm Leaders" -- One appointed to each of the four Dorms and being responsible for the sanitation and good discipline of the clients. The rest of the staff at CCM would continue to function as before, except that the clients would be expected to show proper respect and any case where threats are made to be immediately expelled from CCM. Ditto any case of fighting, especially if a staff member is assaulted.

Central Care Mission is a classic example of a theocracy with all the problems that come with a tyranny -- The most dangerous one, oddly enough, is anarchy where everyone is in a constant power struggle and often the "Inmates Run The Asylum" by means of going to Pastor Lowry who -- like a true tyrant -- often overrules those members of the staff who attempt to bring order out of chaos. If you study the management style of all the great dictators in history, you will find this to be a common thread. Hitler, for example, ruled Nazi Germany with the same management style as Pastor Lowry rules CCM. Hitler attempted to micro manage the entire German nation with the result that his staff in constant conflict and working at cross purpose. We all know the disaster this management style led to in the Second World War. I wonder if the powers-that-be at Center Pointe Church will allow another disaster, albeit on a much smaller scale and hopefully with no staff member killed or injured by a sociopathic client who may think he has the ear and the support of Pastor Lowry?

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