The Sandusky Effect

Now that we finally have some perceived justice in the Sandusky ordeal, Penn State is the next to await their (financial) fate. Some estimates run into the hundreds of millions in liability suits. You can’t blame these kids or their families for wanting to lash out at the university. The evidence is overwhelming that there was egregious passivity on the part of numerous folks high up, capable of addressing this quite early on.

Throughout the whole ordeal I felt terrible of course for the kids, but also for the non-profit Sandusky helped to develop. As a grant-writer for a variety of non-profits and various public institutions, I can’t stress enough the importance these organizations play in a given society. There are a plethora of societal issues that must be addressed that government with your and my tax dollars cannot do alone. Non-profits, churches, and hybrid public/private entities fill this gap. Their existence is paramount for maintaining and growing any society and without them I shudder to consider the alternative reality.

For all intensive purposes, Sandusky aside, his non-profit was doing some tremendous work with youth who lacked stable parental figures and the requisite direction to get their lives turned around. It is quite infrequent you will find a news piece, Op-Ed, etc. pondering where these kids served by thousands of non-profits around the U.S. each and every year would be without them. We can all assume what the alternate reality would be and it would not be pretty nor safe for any of us.

The kids tortured by Sandusky are the victims first and foremost. They have lost something that can never be replaced. The kids being served by his non-profit and the thousands that will never be have lost as well. Not to mention, from my perspective, the now more stringent giving on behalf of foundations to similar such non-profits fearful of supporting an organization that could be harboring another Sandusky amongst its staff. Foundations like investors like anyone else react to events. This singular event has affected the philanthropy of many when considering where to give their program money to further their mission. It will take some time for trust to be built back up and meanwhile the number of kids needing these support agencies is not going away nor will they wait. This incident occurred in a somewhat tucked-away little universe in Pennsylvania, but the trickle-down effects will affect youth throughout the nation in your and my backyards.

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