Green River Star -

Letter: Resident voices concerns about center

 


Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to inform the residents of Green River about an alarming issue that is developing at the Golden Hour Senior Center.

Last week, my mother was released from her position as the Activities Director at the GHSC. This is a right-to-work state, so her dismissal is a nonissue.

When she returned the following day, no longer employed by the GHSC, to retrieve the last of her belongings and say her goodbyes to a few friends, she was disrespected, insulted, and completely humiliated for no justifiable reason, other than expressing an opinion contrary to the management’s views.

My mother was simply explaining, in her opinion, the parameters of her dismissal. That is all. She was not being aggressive, not being violent, not even being disruptive. She was simply having a conversation with her friends at lunch about her resignation. Matter of fact, she was so calm that she was invited back into the center to have a goodbye lunch by several board members. May I repeat: no violence whatsoever. Yet, because her story and opinions conflicted with what the management felt she should say, she was unjustly removed from the building by law enforcement and threatened that if she returned, she would be subject to a restraining order.

I believe that the senior board needs to take a good hard look at the message their organization is sending to its members--And that message is this: If anyone, member or guest, is caught expressing a thought, opinion or story that contradicts the current management’s views, law enforcement will immediately remove them from the building and they will not be allowed to return.

Is this not a direct violation of the principles of the first amendment? Is it the intention of the GHSC to ignore our first amendment rights within a publicly funded organization? An organization funded by you, the citizens of Sweetwater County?

My mother loved the seniors here at Golden Hour Senior Center.

This job was much more than just work for her and it was a very difficult decision for her to resign. However, she still wishes to be able to socialize and volunteer with the seniors.

So I attended the board meeting yesterday on her behalf (she can’t attend due to threats of a restraining order) and I hoped the board would rescind their order of banning her from the building. I believe, as well as many of the other seniors at GHCS, that she should be allowed to return, as a guest member or volunteer.

The board has an obligation to its members, to its financial supporters, and to the taxpayers of this county, to ensure that the management is serving in the best interest of the organization. This is clearly not the case.

As for my own personal opinion, I believe what happen that day is grounds for harassment charges, but my mother only wants to return to the people she cares for. I personally feel that an apology for the ridiculous treatment of a former employee is in order for my mother. However, I am not holding my breath.

After attending the board meeting, I am truly disappointed and I am convinced that the board members have no confidence in their own abilities to make decisions or do the right thing.

The board had an opportunity to show the members of the community that they do care about the public image of the center, that they do care about the seniors first amendment rights and that they are willing to take action in order to preserve the integrity of the center.

However, the board remained silent, which only confirmed to me that the board supports this gross injustice and that they are willing to sacrifice the first-amendment rights of the members in order to please the management.

In addition, the board is making an attempt to further violate my mother’s civil liberties by forcing her to censor her personal Facebook account, if not delete it entirely, when the only posts that were made on her account were to promote the board meeting, which the board or management has not advertised or publicized.

The board will have one more opportunity to do the right thing, to silence the dissenters and solve this issue. If you believe in supporting first amendment rights for seniors, attend the board meeting next month. But good luck finding out when and where, since the GHSC management has not typical released that information in the past.

I hesitate to write this letter, for there is a good chance I will be subject to an unlawful restraining order that will prevent me from attending the next meeting, but I’ll chance it. Because my mother’s reputation is worth it.

Stephanie Harsha

Rock Springs

 

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