Lincoln Knights of Columbus: We’ve been denied help due to name

Lincoln Knights of Columbus: We’ve been denied help due to name

Ray Hedenskog, Grand Knight of the Lincoln Council Knights of Columbus, said the group’s association with the name “Columbus” has overshadowed their charitable endeavors in recent months.

LINCOLN – For the first time in its history, members of the Lincoln Council of the Knights of Columbus say they’ve been denied help on the basis of their group’s name.

Criticism surrounding the legacy of Christopher Columbus has been on the rise across the nation, coming to a head locally with the removal of a Providence Columbus statue after protestors vandalized it.

Members of the Lincoln Council, founded with a mission of charity, said the Columbus name has been problematic for would-be donors and media organizations over the last several months.

Thomas Rossi, who helps run the Lincoln Council’s food drive, said he recently sought a grant from a local nonprofit that has helped fund the council’s charitable endeavors in the past.

“To my chagrin, the answer came back a polite ‘no, not this year.’ The administrators thought that funding a Columbus-named organization was not in their best interest,” he said.

He went on to write to six other Rhode Island-based organizations to see whether they could help the council fund their food bank, which members began in March in response to COVID-19.

Rossi said each of the six organizations denied their requests, responding that the Columbus name would not be well received by their members this year.

The council later reached out to several local news outlets to publicize their upcoming blood drive, said Rossi. He said he assumed a blood drive would be “apolitical,” with the goal of saving lives, but that three media outlets didn’t respond to requests for publication.

The club has teamed up with the Rhode Island Blood Center to hold a blood drive on Aug. 3 between 4 and 7 p.m. to collect needed donations. They’re offering raffles for participants, as well as free refreshments and other giveaways.


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“One said their parent company advised that they shouldn’t be associated with the name Columbus,” Rossi said.

Ray Hedenskog, Grand Knight of the Lincoln Council, said, “We were just trying to get the word out about the blood drive, but it doesn’t fit their narrative.”

Hedenskog said the Columbus Club at 171 Jenckes Hill Road is “a community center available with open arms to aid everybody and anybody. We’re all unpaid volunteers who do the charitable work because we can.”

The club offers its rental hall free of charge to local nonprofits, veterans and other groups for meetings and fundraisers, only charging a rental fee for private parties.

Rossi said monthly rentals helped pay their overhead and utility bills.

When the coronavirus hit Rhode Island, gatherings were restricted and the club could no longer operate as it normally would. Instead of closing its doors, members organized a weekly food drive they call “Leave No Neighbor Behind.”

Hedenskog said the Lincoln Council was one of the few Knights of Columbus groups in the nation to offer such a service.

Though the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization, Rossi said they’ve helped “anyone who asks,” including churches of other denominations.

“If we find out someone doesn’t have food on a Friday night we’ll bring a box to them. Sometimes we deliver baby formula and diapers. There’s a lot of hurt out there right now,” he said.

Rossi and Hedenskog said they applied to seven local organizations for any amount of money to help with their food drive, hoping to purchase some perishable items for families. They say they were denied each time, quietly over the phone, based on their organization’s name.

“In the meantime we collected just under 3,000 pounds of food, distributed 70 or 80 cases of meals ready-to-eat and aided more than nine charitable organizations and churches in the Blackstone Valley and in Providence,” he said. “We’re bringing huge stores of food every week for them to distribute to hungry families.”

This week, Rossi said they were able to feed roughly 5,500 people.

“Not one charitable organization or person declined the food, knowing that it came from the Knights of Columbus,” Rossi said.

Call 401-333-1492 to learn more about helping the club with its efforts.

Comments

I'd like to know the names of these cowardly institutions that declined to donate to this great group. It's common knowledge that these folks do great work, year in and year out, but now sniveling cowards are "declining" to donate to help feed the poor and destitute. How tolerant of them. If you don't speak out about this viciousness, you are part of the problem and it's time for the silent majority to roundly castigate the "cancel" culture.

Disgusting.

I too would like to know which agencies refused to help. I think everyone should know so it can help shape their charitable contributions decisions in the future.

which "local nonprofit" turned them down? why is this not mentioned?

Even more amazing is the families accepting these donations! You would think if they are so opposed to the word Columbus they would politely say no thank you. Ha, guess not when it comes to free handouts.

Knights of Columbus was established in 1882 to bring aid & assistance to the sick, disabled and needy such as: COATS FOR KIDS, FOOD FOR FAMILIES,DISASTER RELIEF,LEAVE NO NEIGHBOR BEHIND, etc....

Publish on your website the names of the organizations who refused assistance this year. Call it "declined to assist" if "refused" is too harsh. Yes, do it. I bet they would not hesitate to publicly announce with pride they refused YOU if it served them. Why protect their secret with your silence?

I would ask that the name of these spineless businesses/organizations that declined to donate be revealed so that an educated consumer can decide whether patronizing them is in their best interest.