Dear Austin Restoration Ministries (ARM),
I will be unable to make a donation to your establishment today. First let me say thank you for any and all comfort and aid you might provide people in need. From what I have gathered, your ministry helps people with addiction break from their addiction by providing a clean environment for them to live. In this environment, addicts are taught your perspective of God. This is as much information as I have been able to gather when being asked for donations in the few moments between green lights at the intersection of Metric and Braker ln. As I have met volunteers’ requests with an occasional donation, I took it upon myself to request more information. To whom was I providing funds and what was being done with this money? I found your web site and formed an email to the contact address on your page. The email read as follows:
I was hoping to gain more information about your program. I understand you help people with addictions to drugs and alcohol. I would be curious to understand in what ways these people are helped. I had a brief conversation with one of your representatives at the stoplight at Metric and Braker the other day, but was not satisfied with the time provided by the stop light to really understand the mission. I have donated on occasion to a representative at this intersection and would like a better understanding of where my money is going. Most recently, I received the impression that ARM helps people break from addiction through teachings of the Christian faith. Is there room in your program for one who has firm spiritual beliefs that do not align with the Christian faith? Your response is most appreciated.”
This email was sent nearly 1 month ago and I have received no response from you. This lack of accountability leads me to be hesitant to make any future donations. The lack of peace of mind provided by volunteers at the intersection of Metric and Braker would be excusable if information provided by these volunteers was adequate or led one to a higher source of accountability. In reality, flyers that ultimately lead one to your web site are vague at best. While the web site does quote scripture that touches on helping other and provide great testimonials, photos, and a one-sided conversation, it does not provide a forum for one to understand the ministry beyond the information provided. It is absolutely your prerogative to provide the information you see fit. But I desire an understanding of where my money is going, especially when I am put in a high-pressure situation like the one formed by this stoplight panhandling.
While some volunteers take a soft approach, attempting to make friends with their captive audience, others seem demanding and insist I have something to give them. I have, on occasion, refused a first request for a donation only to be met by a second, more insistent request. I have occasionally resorted to explaining that I am having trouble paying my own rent, which was true when I made the claim. This claim has been met, at least once, with a seemingly judgmental dismissal. I give as much as I can to others in need and would prefer not to feel as though I am on trial when driving in my neighborhood.
Further, I cannot, in good conscience donate to an organization that claims to work in the name of a loving God, but pushes its collective perspective on people who come to the organization for help. The information provided by your web site and volunteers and the fact that you have not responded to my email lead me to believe that this is, in fact, the case.