Intake day: May 29, 1982. St. Petersburg, FL
I found this document among my father’s Straight, Inc. documents.
The first three items are crossed through since none of them are applicable.
According to this document parents paid:
$35.00/month for food.
$2,000.00/Pledge Payment (aka fee for ‘treatment’)
$125 (Random fee? Appointment fee? No written explanation.)
Hmmm. I’ve heard rumor that most if not all of the food was donated to the St. Petersburg, Florida program (which is where these documents are from), but I’ll have to find proof of this. (Note to readers: If you have proof of this, please forward a copy to this site.) However, even if it wasn’t donated, I’m sure we didn’t consume $35 worth of food there per month (especially thirty-five 1984 dollars worth).
The $25.00 doctor’s fee is hilarious. I wonder how they accounted for THIS fee in their books. I never saw a medical doctor in all my days at Straight, Inc.
And the $2000 fee for the program was classified as a pledge. I guess our parents were donors to the non-profit program, Straight, Inc.
Now, considering 99.9% of the items that made up Straight were donated, where did all that money go?
Warehouse Building (in an industrial zone) – (most often donated or paid for by parents’ fundraising efforts).
Signs on the wall.
Plastic chairs (approximately 600-1000 chairs)
Meals (usually donated? Usually only lunch and dinner or just dinner, depending on the program location, other meals were supposed to be provided by parents when possible)
Salaries (kid-graduates did 99.9% of the ‘therapy’ and got paid minimum wage, when they got paid — which wasn’t consistently)
Non-profit business registration and filing: Only a few bucks per year.
That leaves Executive Salaries. But when I spoke to one former executive staff member he scoffed at the proposal that perhaps they got paid well.
The Numbers Don’t Add Up
When I entered Straight, Inc. on May 29, 1982, there were approximately 350 kids in the group.
Though more than 350 kids had entered the program (within the year and paid the fees) but were no longer there because they escaped or were withdrawn or on the rare occasion terminated.
So let’s use a rough and conservatively estimated number of anywhere from 100 – 350 kids admitted to the program in any one location and in any one given year in the early 1980s. And let’s use the low estimate* that each one was charged $2000.
(*Low estimate: because we know parents paid more than just the initial “entry pledge payment” because there were the additional fees listed above for each kid, plus the collections of additional donations two times per week at each open meeting, plus numerous other fundraisers going on at any given point in time, in which the parents were expected to donate either their time, money and/or other resources. ‘Afterall, who can put a price on a child’s life?‘, which is what the program proclaimed was at stake if the parents didn’t meet all of these expectations.
100-350 kids at (a minimum of) $2000/each = $200,000-$700,000 of tax-free money in any given year in the early 1980’s for the nonprofit corporation that went by the name of Straight, Incorporated and proclaimed to save kids lives with their ‘breakthrough modality of kids helping kids and parents helping parents.‘
Where did all of the money really end up? If you have any answers or ideas, please be sure to leave them in the comments below.