Angels in the Attic: Follow the money

Is Angels in the Attic a ministry, a thrift shop or a cash cow?
Is Angels in the Attic a ministry, a thrift shop or a cash cow?

For 14 years, Angels in the Attic has operated as a “ministry of Floyd County Angels Ministry, Inc.” and claimed to be a not-for-profit charity operation in the downtown area.

But Angels itself has never had an official Internal Revenue Service status as a not-for-profit charitable status and, without one, Angels in the Attic may not be an actual “not for profit” ministry.  The charitable status belongs to Floyd County Cares, an umbrella organization that supports a number of causes in the county.  Previous applications for an IRS status for Angels in the Attic were denied.

Angels currently claims this on its web site:

Angels in the Attic is a not-for-profit organization, staffed almost entirely by volunteers.  Angels in the Attic, and Angels Boutique, stores are a ministry of Floyd County Angels Ministries, Inc., operating under Floyd County Cares, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization.

Items, such as clothing and household items, are donated by the community, then sorted, restored if needed, and are then displayed and sold at both of our stores.  All monies, less operational expenses, are given back to the Floyd County community.

But Angels owner and operator Kathy Blackwell now is trying discredit Floyd County Cares and its role at Angels.

An increasing number of former volunteers of the organization say Angels is more of a monarchy of creator Blackwell, who rules the organization with an iron hand and operates without sufficient oversight into spending, fundraising or accountability.

Blackwell resigned from the Angels board after getting into a pissing contest with Floyd County Cares, Inc., the not-for-profit entity that still actually actually owns the Angels building.  But she has continued to control Angels in the Attic, creating a new entity, “Friends of Angels,” which is controlled solely by her and answers to no one.

She calls her actions a “protest of an action by Floyd County Cares, Inc.”  The current Angels board is, supposedly, the controlling entity of Angels in the Attic but has stopped short of removing Blackwell from the operation.

The Angels board is trying to resolve the issue but those close to the matter say the only realistic result will be removing Blackwell from the operation entirely.

Several former volunteers at Angels and others involved in the operation believe a detailed audit is needed of the group’s finances and suggest an independent review of the situation.  Patrons complain that Angels has raised its prices as part of operations that appear to abandon the thrift shop concept of Angels.

Blackwell has purchased a home near the edge of town for storage and other purposes.  Some question what they say are questionable expenses that appear to directly benefit Blackwell, including a reported paid health insurance program, and other use of funds that appear to be for personal benefit.

A full, public audit could answer questions to see if such activities are — in fact — occurring.

A number of long-time volunteers were driven out of Angels by Blackwell after they questioned some of her activities.

They say Angels in the Attic Ministries is a shell operation that is basically just Blackwell and little else. The Angels board is still wrangling over whether or not she runs the group or they do. Angels lists itself as a “religious organization” on Facebook but offers no details on the ministry or its beliefs.

Critics of Blackwell say she uses misinformation posted on the Angels website under its “Whispers Column” to question any of her actions.  Volunteers say they are told to toe the line or hit the road.

Blackwell announced in July that sales at Angels have exceeded more than $1 million since the thrift shop opened in 2000.

Some critics say a full accounting is needed to document those sales and distribution of all funds.

“There has always been full  transparency of Angels since the 2000 beginning,” Blackwell claims.

Others say that transparency remains to be seen.

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