Chattanooga Housing Authority Executive Director Betsy McCright and her husband, Stan, will oversee the Grateful Gobbler fundraiser this year, and all of the money raised will go to the only family emergency shelter in the city for men, women and children, organizers announced.
It will be the first time since the Gobbler's inception that the city's largest fundraiser for the homeless isn't headed by the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition. The Maclellan Foundation will assist the McCrights and manage the event.
Stephen Wright, executive director of the Homeless Coalition, said he, the coalition board and the Maclellan Foundation are in agreement.
"I'm just glad to be associated with the Maclellan Foundation," Wright said. "I think it gives us [the homeless coalition] more credibility and better standing in the community."
Betsy and Stan McCright, also principals of McCright & Associates, a private company that provides support for public housing authorities, are volunteers for the fundraiser, said David Denmark, Maclellan Foundation executive director.
"We worked a deal with the Homeless Coalition to allow us to manage the Gobbler this year [and next] and channel 100 percent of the funds toward operation of the shelter for homeless families," Denmark said.
The coalition relinquished its role as head of the fundraiser this year after operating the event for more than a decade. Two years ago McCright resigned from the coalition board after learning that the coalition used money from the Grateful Gobbler to pay coalition staff and expenses instead of using it to directly assist the homeless.
"Things happened in the past, but you have to move on and serve the homeless," Wright said. "You can't let things get in the way of serving those most vulnerable."
McCright declined comment.
The diversion of funds occurred in 2012 before Wright became executive director of the coalition.
The Maclellan Foundation expects to raise $200,000 from this year's Gobbler, twice as much as the $100,000 generated in 2012.
All proceeds will be used to fund the Maclellan Shelter for Homeless Families, Denmark said.
He said the foundation is underwriting the Gobbler Walk to make sure no Gobbler funds are spent on T-shirts or other Gobbler expenses.
And the R.L. & K.H. Maclellan Foundation will give $50,000 from its own charity to the homeless coalition. The use of the funds will be board directed, Wright said.
The emergency family shelter is expected to open at the end of this year. It will include 13 beds and be located on East 11th Street next to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. Officials say they're still planning guidelines for the shelter but expect it will take people for up to 30 days.
"It is desperately needed," said Chattanooga Room in the Inn executive director Erin Creal. "There is no true emergency shelter in town."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at 757-6431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.