It saddens me beyond words to say that my non-profit which provides FREE clothing to at-risk teen girls, Giving Threads, has been evicted from our present space. Per the judge’s orders, we have fourteen days to be out. Today in the courtroom, I did everything right. Here is what happened:
Joe V Williams, the plaintiff and landlord, alleged that I had not made payment on time. That was his reason given for the eviction notice.
My payments are due on the 7th of each month with a ten day grace period. Due to an ongoing battle over recurring flooding issues in my space, I did not take my lease payment to the post office until the 13th…after Mr. Williams said he had “fixed” the flooding problem.
The judge looked at the return envelope, the note attached that had been sent to me by the landlord refusing my lease payment, and he noted the post mark of March 14th on the envelope I had sent with my payment…agreeing that this was proof that I had paid on time:
Joe argued that since my payment went to a PO Box, and that since he doesn’t check his box daily, that he didn’t receive it in hand until after the 17th, which by his estimation made my payment past due. The judge asked to see the lease, reminded Mr. Williams that per the lease, I had been instructed to send all payments to the PO Box…and that I had followed all of the steps given. The judge then reiterated that I was not late on payment and I had sent the payment to the address per the lease agreement.
So…I thought this was looking good for Giving Threads.
Next, however, the judge threw me an unexpected curveball. He stated that even though I had made payment on time and had followed the lease agreement, I was still being evicted and had fourteen days to have everything out of the space. He then instructed both Joe V. Williams and I to return to court on May 11th when damages that might be owed to Mr. Williams will be addressed.
OK. What? Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought a contract was a contract.
If this is the case, that a landlord can evict a tenant for no reason, then it is crazy for any business owner to sign a lease, especially a non-profit. The time and expense of hiring a lawyer, moving, finding space to relocate on such short notice, not to mention the effort required to get the word out to all of your clients that a relocation has taken place…well, it’s monumental. In the courtroom today, I was stopped by a woman who has brought two of her daughters to me for clothing. She mentioned she would need to bring them back this summer, because they are “growing like weeds”. It was fitting. Ironic. Or Karma. Just as I’m being pushed out by the system, I’m being approached by someone I’ve been assisting.
The real issue with the landlord, as I’ve mentioned before, is with a plumbing problem he doesn’t want to fix. But the judge didn’t want to hear that. During February/March, there was so much standing water in the back of the space, the girls could not use the restroom or the dressing area. To make matters worse, after Mr. Williams “fixed” the flooding issue, he turned our water off. That’s right…I have had no running water for the girls who come in to get clothes. Here is a taped conversation between the landlord and me where he admits to the real reason behind my eviction:
So, friends, I will be closing Giving Threads. I will probably hire an attorney and get this eviction off of any records for IRS purposes, but since I have to be out in fourteen days, I’m going to focus on closing. And finishing well.
If I had been able to raise enough funds to cover moving expenses, costs related to relocating, and now legal expenses….well, of course this wouldn’t be happening. But I couldn’t raise the money on such a short time frame, and I am already giving $360.00 per month in rent/utilities to keep this non-profit going. haha. I have never taken a single dime for the work I’ve put in, as you know, because that would be defeating my purpose. While most non-profit owners take an income, that was never part of my plan. My sole purpose was to serve girls like my daughter, Natalie. Those girls who have struggled mightily because of circumstances beyond their control. And I have done that. I have served so many sweet girls…I have loved them with the love of Christ to the best of my ability….and I was blessed through this little non-profit to make relationships that I will always treasure.
Bottom line, the system is not fair….but my head is up. Natalie is struggling once again with her RAD demons, and my heart is breaking over that. I’m going to focus on her and not let this other stuff get me down. I have three special needs kiddos, so I have to stay strong and keep moving forward.
I received $150 in donations toward saving Giving Threads over the last couple of weeks. Every dollar will be returned to each person who gave. Thank you for your financial support! I am grateful. And thanks to each person who has donated clothing over the last couple of years so that ‘my’ girls could walk into their schools and feel good about themselves. You’ve all made a difference!