It is with a heavy heart and embarrassment that I send you this email. Many of you know that I hosted a Christmas Toy Drive for my son’s school (Stevenson Middle School) to help families who live below the federal poverty line. I am part of the PTO at Stevenson Middle School and interact with these families on a regular basis. These families rely on charitable donations during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This year the PTO was approached by Miss Ashley Authorlee, CEO and Mr. Raynor Barretti, Special Events Coordinator of Mama D’s Pantry, claiming to be a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. Authorlee and Barretti passed out various flyers and sent out press releases with Stevenson Middle School’s logo requesting toy and food donations for the needy families at Stevenson. Authorlee and Barretti were aided by former city council candidate, Leticia Gutierrez Ablaza, who also passed out flyers, circulated emails and promoted Stevenson’s Christmas Toy & Food Drive on her campaign page as her own event in her district. (Stevenson does not reside in Ablaza’s district.) Several republican candidates (or their volunteers) and republican activists contacted me in the days leading up to the toy & food drive to notify me that they had contributed either cash or toys for Stevenson’s Toy & Food Drive. These donors noted that the donations were received on behalf of Stevenson Middle School by Barretti and Authorlee. In the week leading up to the toy drive, the PTO had a conference call with Barretti of Mama D’s Pantry to discuss the donations received and to discuss the logistics of the toy drive. Barretti confirmed that he had received donations on behalf of Stevenson Middle School. During that same week, I received text messages from Ablaza indicating that she was promoting Stevenson’s toy & food drive and also confirmed positive feedback about donations received.
On the day of the drive, Ablaza showed up in the last 30 minutes of the drive with her family and canned goods, but only to push her own agenda in promoting Jolanda Jones and promoting herself in her new bid for 2013. Authorlee and Barretti of Mama D’s Pantry arrived for the last 15 minutes of the drive only when they knew that Ablaza was asking for them. Barretti and Authorlee showed up empty handed. When asked about the donations they received on behalf of Stevenson Middle School they noted that the donations they received were for Mama D’s Pantry and not for Stevenson. Barretti and Authorlee then proceeded inside the restaurant to talk with Ablaza for the remaining few minutes of the drive. The drive ended at 12 noon at which point the Ablaza family, Authorlee and Barretti all left at the same time.
I have sent out a press release regarding this incident. I want to make all of you aware that Mama D’s Pantry is NOT a registered non-profit. I find it disturbing that these individuals would take advantage of a charitable project held by a public school for their personal benefit. I also find it disturbing that Ablaza helped these individuals for her own personal gain politically and that she’s associated with these type of people. Neither Authorlee nor Barretti would return calls until later today to inform us that they are having a “toy distribution” at Allen Samuels Dodge on December 21 from 10am to 1pm. To add insult to injury, they commented, “if you know of any needy families, bring ‘em or tell ‘em to show up.” Mama D’s Pantry, Authorlee and Barretti are scam artists. They used school resources and Stevenson’s school logo to take advantage of people. (I’ll venture out in guessing Ablaza might take part in the distribution to help her friends and her political aspirations.)
Attached is the press release sent to the media. If you contributed to these individuals, I apologize for the inconvenience, and ask that you let me know please. Among the donations that Authorlee and Barretti collected under Stevenson’s name there was one donation that has a cash value of $300. I pray that these individuals are brought to justice and no longer harm needy families nor caring individuals who donated. What makes this scam so hurtful is that this past week the PTO received a new family who recently lost their home and all of their belongings in a house fire.
May the Spirit and Warmth of Christmas reign over all people.
Stevenson Middle School PTO – Treasurer
***Stevenson Middle School, Stevenson Middle School PTO & its officers are NOT associated to any political candidates or any kind of organizations.
PS. Had it not been for the kind hearts of Randy Kubosh, Carmen Cuneo, Alvin Walker, Tom Zakes, Kristin Guiney, Renee Magee, Bruce Bain, Judge Sheri Dean, Buffie Ingersoll, Neal Meyer, Liz Theiss, SD Chair Ken Moore, the Downtown Houston Pachyderm and their members, the PTO would not have been able to provide these families with Christmas cheer. The above individuals contributed cash/gift cards/checks, which included a check from the Dowtown Houston Pachyderm, that totaled $800. The donations will be distributed among 15 families who will receive small packages of food, clothing and toys for Christmas. THANK YOU for keeping Christ in CHRISTmas! Merry Christmas!