Cornwall Ontario – It’s never easy tackling allegations of corruption, cronyism, nepotism, and incompetence, but then many positive things in life only come by tackling the tough stuff.
Tracy Barker is a very brave woman. She’s also very frustrated after leaving the Agape Centre where she worked as a cook for a number of years.
Recently she was interviewed by CFN one on one which we are now going to release, but in the interim she was sent a threatening letter by the Ottawa Law firm of Emond Harnden.
The Agape Centre, that also is alleged to have recently settled (stated to have been for $5,000) one of at least four cases with former staff currently pending or in play.
Lawyer J.D. Sharp threatened the humble cook with grave sanctions and lawsuit for comments she made on Facebook.
I tried to separate myself from the crap, but it was too hard to do
That comment and others like it triggered a lengthy legal letter estimated to have cost the charity over $500 to produce. Not only did it demand that comments made on a Facebook page that only Facebook friend could see be pulled down, but a retraction and apology printed and also communicated to others.
Ms Barker pulled down the comments, but has refused to apologize to Alyssa Blais, director or the Agape Centre.
As Tracy stated:
I definitely have a lot to say but too bad the centre has to take the bad because of people like her that are there to destroy what we have done over the years.
And now for Ms Barker’s interview with CFN.
When did you first work for the Agape?
I started in February of 2008.
And when were you fired? Were you officially fired? What was the cause they put on your papers?
I was fired August 30th. Officially?
I’m not there anymore and my paper says nothing about why i was terminated.
So what did they put down as your cause of leaving? Were you able to get Unemployment funds?
We’re you given severance or a settlement of any sort? Notice?
No notice,just showed up to work and they cornered me in Lori’s office said they heard that i disrespected a co-worker but could not tell me who or what was said and they said i was terminated.
They gave me five weeks pay in lieu of notice but if anyone knows me i would never disrespect anybody especially someone i work with.
We had an amazing team of staff and volunteers at the center we just can’t seem to find the right people to run the place.
When did things change at the Agape for you? You were there prior to Alyssa and Lori coming on board?
Yes,it was a mess when the old ex-director was there and when Alyssa came on board we thought it would change and it did she cut a lot of our services and has no people skills.
Lori’s position was never a necessity it only came about a year before she started.
I didn’t bother with unemployment because i have another job.
What services did Alyssa cut? And what was your position at the Agape?
I was the head cook-kitchen supervisor.
Did you ever have an argument or issue with either Lori or Alyssa?
Were you surprised to be let go or were you ever reprimanded while on duty?
The only issues i have ever had were that at lunch time there is no hot water to do the dishes,we do not have an accessible table for the challenged(wheelchairs)and when the other cook is on the kitchen is dirty and i spoke to her on many occasions about this but it never was solved.
Everybody thought i would be there forever,i love what we do there but things need an overhaul.
I was never reprimanded the whole time i was employed there.
Tracy working at the Agape was not the highest paying job; what was it that you loved so much about working there?
How did you feel when Lori & Alyssa let you go?
I worked at the center for the people who needed me.
I gave them 100%everyday and i believe we need the center for the city just to give a little nudge until payday or to help a child stay warm.
When i started i was making 9.60 an hr and when i left i was making 11.70.I wasn’t there for the paycheck.
My relationship with lori was good. I just catered a wedding for her nephew in July.
My relationship was sour with Alyssa from the beginning.
In your opinion did other people lose their jobs in the same manner that you did?
On Facebook you suggested that people close to Alyssa or Lori were hired?
Lori’s husband was hired at one point, correct?
Yes and he had to be let go also.
Alyssa’s daughter worked with her this summer,her friend frank works there i don’t really know what he does
Lori’s son had his picture taken for the posters of hungry children,
There are a lot of things happening that shouldn’t be i just don’t want the center to suffer because of mis management.
I would like to tell you a situation i had with Alyssa but i do not think it should be made public but then you will understand how hard it was to work with Alyssa.
Just to clarify, when you mention he above you mean Lori’s husband Graham? Is Frank, Frank Burelle?
To your knowledge were people let go prior to them being hired for the same position
Graham worked there and yes frank burelle.
No,The ex director resigned and the operations manager found other employment
The center lost some amazing people since they have taken over and they cannot run without the hard work of the volunteers.
To your knowledge how many volunteers were let go like Gary Samler and his wife?
Some were asked to leave and others left because they did not want to work under lori and alyssa.
About 6 from the kitchen alone if they don’t like you you’re gone
We had a couple that was there for many years and they were selected as volunteers of the year a few times well lori didn’t like them because they spoke up during meetings ect so they just got fed up and left.
Another volunteer who is still there has been suggested for volunteer of the year at least two years in a row and because Alyssa doesn’t like him she refused.
Do you think that Alyssa & Lori need to go? Do you think the board needs changing?
After your experience do you support the Agape under its current management team?
Alyssa and Lori need to go along with their ridiculously high paychecks
I will always support the center but not while Alyssa and lori are there and the board needs some changes also
Would you want to go back there to work if there was a change?
Do you think the pubic is aware of how things are being run?
There should be rules when you are on the board like at least the knowledge of what the Agape does,
maybe spend a day volunteering ect
I would go back in a heartbeat,it didn’t feel like work and I felt like I was doing something good even if I just helped one person that day but i would never go back to work there under that kind of management.
One last question? Why go public?
I debated contacting you because i had intended on suing but i wouldn’t be suing Alyssa and Lori
I would be suing the Agape and i would not feel good about doing that.
You contacted me and i guess it was my turn to speak about where the money that people donate goes and how the people are treated there.
We need more people like you willing to speak out so we can change things for the better.
Thank you Tracy!
It should be noted that several emails were sent to Ms Blais and her mentor and Director on the board of the Agape, Cornwall Ontario City Councilor Elaine MacDonald whose relationship with the Agape is now oddly intertwined including her appealing in live council recently for thousands of dollars to help the Agape repair its building; something that many have called gross conflict of interest.
Here are some of the questions asked of Ms Blais and Ms MacDonald who have not responded in any fashion.
We are not asking for you to identify them; simply confirm from you that it happened?
They bring in their own supplies. The food used for the soup kitchen is locked in a pantry.
To accuse Lori Greer of “theft” as that is essentially what this person is writing on facebook, I know for a fact that this is not true.
What do you think dear viewers of CFN? You can post your comments below. We will be printing more as we sort out the mass of information that has come in since we started to expose some of the inner workings of this troubled charity.