Coalition director resigns early

BENNINGTON -- The board of directors of the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless has accepted the resignation of its executive director, Kendy Skidmore, about two months ahead of the date she had hoped to depart.

Skidmore sent a recent email to colleagues announcing her intent to resign on April 1.

"I wanted to send a personal note to let you all know that after 13 years with the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless, I am resigning as the Executive Director effective April 1, 2013," she wrote.

However, board member Christopher Oldham said the board met Saturday and voted unanimously to accept her resignation immediately after careful consideration of issues within the organization.

"Upon receiving multiple complaints and issues, the board decided unanimously to accept her resignation effective today," Oldham said.

According to Oldham, who was designated by the board to speak on behalf of the organization, the board had received complaints from people within the nonprofit group as well as from supporters and donors and state agencies.

"The board is, at this point, being proactive. It's imperative for us to rebuild our relationships and make new ones. That's what the focus is going to be from now on," he said. "Right now our focus is going to be on what we need to do as a board to figure out what we can do to help the homeless population."

Skidmore appeared before the Bennington Select Board last week seeking special consideration from the board to be placed on the upcoming town ballot after failing to secure enough signatures on a petition. The group has been approved by voters for a $25,000 appropriation from the town for at least the last four years.

The board rejected the direct appeal, but voted in favor of allowing the coalition to appear on the ballot for voter approval of $7,500, according to a policy set by the board last fall.

Oldham said the coalition's failure to obtain the required number of signatures was one factor in the board's decision to seek new leadership.

"It certainly played a role, for sure. There's a lot of factors. I think it was hard to attain signatures this time around because there are a lot of people that were once in support of the coalition that are no longer in support. We are hoping to get their faith and support back," he said.

In the short term, board members are filling in to help run the day-to-day operations of the coalition. There is no current plan or timeframe for replacing Skidmore, Oldham said. Instead, the board plans to review the organization and determine how to allocate resources.

"We're taking a look at our programs that are in existence," he said. "We are really taking a look at what we can afford. No decision is made right now. We're not saying that we're closing shelters, but what we are doing is picking the weeds out of the garden, so to speak."

People using the coalition's facilities in Bennington, North Bennington and Manchester should not be concerned, according to Oldham. "Nobody is going to be put out on the street. Our goal is and always has been to house and rehabilitate those that are homeless," he said.

Skidmore could not be reached for comment Monday. However, she described the group's accomplishments and her appreciation for the job in the email she sent to colleagues.

"I have been a part of huge growth and great work by the Coalition and I am very proud of the programs that we have operated and the community need that we have met. I have met and worked with a wealth of wonderful people and I have served an even greater number of homeless and people down on their luck," Skidmore wrote. "My work has been very rewarding and very educational. I do believe, however, that it is time for new energy, new funding and new ideas for the Coalition."


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