Touched by Angels, a Marstons Mills-based non-profit owned by Gina Clark, at center of controversy
Two families who lost children to illness allegedly received only $200 each after large fundraising events
In a video recently posted on YouTube, several Cape Cod families allege that Touched by Angels, a non-profit devoted to raising funds for families of people who are seriously ill or recently passed away, misled them in its fundraising efforts and gave the families much less money than they were led to believe, in addition to not fully disclosing the amount of money raised. Three ex-employees of the non-profit allege shady accounting and fundraising practices in the video. Typically, families were told they would receive 80% of the money raised by Touched by Angels on their behalf.
The non-profit is the brainchild of Gina Clark, a Marstons Mills mom and wife of Christopher Clark, a current or retired firefighter for the town of Dedham, MA. The purpose of Touched by Angels is to raise money for families undergoing financial stress from the illness or death of a family member. The organization sponsored one family per month and the families were told that they would receive 80% of the proceeds from the fundraising. Fundraising consisted of the following:
The video is is 40 minutes long and can be seen in its entirety on Vimeo.
Here's a recap of the allegations in the video:
Dawn Hand: who was a partner in the organization for 5 months, left after Gina Clark told her that instead of giving 80% of the donations to the families, the organization was now going to to keep 100% of the donations which came in except for the actual day of the fundraising event/auction. When Ms. Hand questioned this new practice, she was asked to leave and did.
The Finn Family: the father in this family, Robert Finn, was injured while doing tree work and while he was recuperating, the family fell seriously behind on its bills. Many friends and supporters of the family bought tickets to the fundraising event and bought auction items and raffle tickets, raising thousands of dollars. The Finns allege that Touched by Angels never gave the Finns any information on how much money was raised and the family ended up getting only enough to pay one mortgage payment.
Chris Niland: This guy was a former volunteer/fundraiser (one of several) who raised $600-$800 per day for TBA by soliciting donations from the public, at tables set up outside grocery stores. He alleges he brought the cash to Gina Clark's garage at the end of each day. He would count the cash and receive a percentage of it for his commission. He left TBA after being accused by Gina's husband of stealing.
Heidi Smith: the former office manager of TBA alleges that she would go to Boston with Gina and they would solicit funds from the public on behalf of Children's Hospital of Boston, which has no record of TBA as an authorized fundraiser. Smith alleges that a person on the Cape donated a week at a Florida timeshare as raffle prize. Raffle tickets were sold and Gina kept extending the date that the winner was to be drawn so as to sell more tickets. Not all the tickets were in the jar during the drawing--some were at the TBA office and some were at the Clark's house. The winner drawn was the wife of Dino Mitrokosotas, owner of Dino's Sports Bar, which was a sponsor of the event.
Heidi Smith also alleges that TBA was investigated by the Attorney General in 2009 for fair labor practices, and employees were instructed by Gina Clark to state that they acted as independent contractors and did not receive a salary, just commission, when in fact Smith and others did receive a salary.
The Blackington Family: They have a daughter who suffers from spina bifida. They allege that they had very large medical bills and were taken on as a sponsored family by TBA. They allege at least 100 friends and family members bought tickets to their fundraising event, which they ended up having to share with another family. The Blackingtons ended up receiving $1300.
The Brown Family: Jeff Brown, whose young son Steven Brown (pictured on left) died after a long illness, was hard-pressed to pay for his son's $11,000 funeral. He alleges that he agreed to have TBA raise money on his behalf. He alleges that he ended up having to share the event with the Blackingtons, which he thought was odd since the Blackingtons did not lose a child. Four or five women representing TBA were dressed in mini skirts, fishnet stockings, and high-heeled boots and were wearing angel wings at the event. After the well-attended event in which Steven's doctor spent over $300 on one auction item, the Browns received only $200 after being told that TBA had to pay for food, etc. In reality, the food was donated. Also, TBA had tarot card readers and were selling jewelry at the event.
Katie Smith: She passed away from leukemia at age 17. Her parents, Carol and Brian Harnois, allege on this video that out of all the raffle tickets sold on their daughter's behalf, they received a total of $200 in gift cards from TBA.
Touched by Angels is registered as a non-profit according to Guidestar. Their 990 form (statement of revenue and expenses) filed online for 2007 shows a loss of $4,000; the 990's for 2008 and 2009 are not available.
Touched by Angels refused to make a statement to CapeCodToday. Online searches revealed no current involvement by either Chris or Gina Clark (pictured on right) in a lawsuit or bankruptcy proceeding.
Gina and Chris Clark's home at 31 Acadia Drive in Marstons Mills was purchased for $710,000 in 2006 . It has 5 bedrooms and is 2400 square feet. An aerial photo available on Google maps shows a pool in the backyard. Allegedly, Gina and Chris have new Harley Davidson motorcycles and drive a white Cadillac Escalade.
According to the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds, they have a 30-year adjustable rate mortgage for $639,000 with a teaser rate of 9.3% which expired on 7/1/08. The payments on the mortgage at the 9.3% rate are $5,280 per month.
Touched by Angels
P.O. Box 1522
Marstons Mills, MA, 02648
Barnstable Police Department