August 12, 2012; Source: MLive
Ken Hankinson volunteered twice a week with Mel Trotter Ministries in Sparta, Mich. He unloaded donations and drove forty miles round trip to do so. But when Amway sued Hankinson for selling Amway products on eBay, the organization serving homeless people suggested that he not return. Hankinson says the reason given was that, as reported by MLive, “a member of the company’s founding families served on the organization’s board.” Hankinson, a retired schoolteacher, had volunteered as many as 10 hours per week.
But Sandra Gaddy, the vice president of development at the charity, said, “Mr. Hankinson was asked to take a leave of absence from his volunteer work to avoid a possible conflict of interest…As a benefactor of Amway product donations over the years, Mel Trotter wanted to avoid being falsely accused of providing the products at the center of the lawsuit.”
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to the NPQ newsletter to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
This article states that Hankinson asserted that he obtained his supply of Amway (and Alticor, Amway’s parent company) products at an auction, yard sales and thrift shops; the latter included Mel Trotter stores. Although the lawsuit has been settled and Hankinson can volunteer with Mel Trotter Ministries again, he does not plan to return to the organization. “The more I thought about it, the more upset I was that they threw me under the bus,” said Hankinson. “I was doing valuable work.”
An interesting situation. We’d love to hear reader thoughts on this one. –Ruth McCambridge