Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reach, Inc: An Investigation

On the morning of Saturday, September 12, I was entering my local Wal-Mart store and noticed an unmanned portable table adorned with a rudimentary sign requesting donations for “Child Abuse.” Certainly I had seen other community organizations operating at this location (Salvation Army, Boy & Girl Scouts, Local Civic Clubs, etc.) but this seemed different somehow. For starters, the sign was devoid of any contact information; there were no phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or websites. Glancing back at the sign I did notice the name “Reach, Inc.” at the bottom, which I assumed was the recipient charity. I made note of the name and continued into the store.

When I emerged an hour later, the table was now accompanied by a slender woman politely beseeching shoppers for donations to help child abuse. As I made my way to the car, it began to dawn on me that this was not the first time I had been asked for a donation for child abuse under the banner of “Reach, Inc.” outside this particular store. I decided that it merited further investigation…

Two days later, I began researching the charity on the Internet. First, I tried the United Way of West Tennessee which covers my county plus nine surrounding counties. It would certainly stand to reason that a legitimate charity operating within the city limits would be listed amongst the 97 cooperating agencies, but alas Reach, Inc. did not appear.

An general internet search for Reach, Inc returned several results: a charity based in Bozeman, Montana that provides support for adults with disabilities and an agency in Cherokee, North Carolina that provides services for abused women, but I could not locate any pages referring to an organization (charitable or otherwise) that dealt with child abuse and operated under the name “Reach, Inc.” Something was beginning to smell, and for once it was not my Ol’ Roy Cologne gift set…

Concerned that the shoppers of my local superstore were being mislead, I placed a call to the location in question, hoping that the manager would be able to shed some light on the situation. I offered a brief synopsis of my findings and asked if solicitors operating at the front doors were subjected to a screening process. She replied that the charities were screened locally by each individual store, and assured me that “Reach, Inc.” was indeed a legitimate charity. I thanked her for the information and requested a way to contact the organization, as I had been unable to locate any information on them and I assumed the store would have this type of data on file. She tersely replied that it was against policy to release the information in question. She suggested if I wanted to contact them I should try and catch them next time I was shopping.

Astounded that Wal- Mart was not allowed to divulge the website or contact information of an endorsed charity allowed to solicit donations from its own customers, I placed a call to the corporate offices and spoke to a customer service agent who verified the local screening process but was unaware of a privacy policy concerning the charities themselves. He suggested that I call the District Manager in order to bring the matter to a close.

On the morning of Wednesday, September 16, I placed a call to the office of Russell Steiner (my local district manager) and was informed by his assistant Debbie that he was on vacation for the rest of the week. She asked if she could be of assistance so I voiced my concerns about Reach, Inc. and the Wal-Mart screening process for charitable organizations. She promised to look into the matter and get back with me once she had gathered more information.

Less than an hour later, she called with a website provided by the organization: www.reachmission.com. I thanked her for the prompt response, and pulled up the address in question discovering that Reach Incorporated (a non-profit organization) was the brainchild of a man named Luke Edwards (a Pentecostal Bishop) and is based in Eutaw, Alabama. According to the website Reach Inc. was “formed to help underprivileged and abused children, misguided teens and young adults, court-appointed first offenders, unwed mothers, the homeless, and welfare recipients looking for a hand-up not just a hand out.” The site also referenced a religious compound called “Holyland.” Intrigued, I began my search for information about the Holyland compound of Alabama.

In 1997, the Seattle Times published an article on Bishop Luke Edwards and the commune he helms in Alabama. Bishop Edwards made a name for himself in the 1970’s by convincing his congregation that their dependence on the government for support was weakening them and that the true key to their freedom was self-sufficiency. The result, after almost two decades, was a multi-million dollar business empire consisting of restaurants, motels, truck-stops, slaughterhouses, and more than 2,800 acres of land.

The Bishop’s commune rests on 54 acres in Emelle, Alabama and consists of several non-descript buildings which house its residents. This is pertinent because the charitable arm of the Holyland is indeed Reach, Inc. and according to several residents this charitable division generates revenue through a complex network of panhandling known internally as “The Route.”

Gail Walker, a resident who defected in 1994, claims that residents were placed on buses and shuttled throughout the country for weeks at a time to ask for money outside retail stores. This solicitation was always done in the name of abused children because; according to Gail, “it gets their hearts.” This is ironic considering the organization has been cited for 129 child-labor violations by the state of Alabama Edwards responded that he was unaware of the law at the time.
Even assuming that Reach, Inc. has cleaned up its act in the past few years, I could not locate any services or programs they offered within 200 miles of the South Jackson Wal-Mart where they were soliciting donations. In fact, the official website does not list any services or programs at all; the curious are simply invited to call them or write to the given address for information.

To her credit, Debbie had apparently reached the same conclusion after navigating the site as she called me back to voice her concerns. I gave her a brief overview of what I had found and forwarded her the Seattle Times article which she promised to distribute to other area stores. Hopefully, Wal-Mart will increase oversight of their screening processes in the future so that the only pleas for charity come from the voices of those who truly need it.

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON THE ORGANIZATION

The Seattle Times article can be accessed here: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19970810&slug=2554070

10 comments:

  1. Gale Walker told you the truth about REACH Inc. we would be gone for 2 or 3 months at a time, away from our children. We were suppose to receive prorated shares of the non-profit 501(d) upon leaving the organization. This infromation was reported to the IRS as if we received it. I left the organization 3 years ago, with 53.00 in my pocket and a bus ticket from a friend. We worked for nothing... No pay...nothing

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    1. Nhạc Thiên lão tổ đã sớm chăm chú nhìn Hồng Loan, nghe thấy Hồng Loan gọi Nhạc Thành là cha, ông kinh ngạc vô cùng, cảm giác Hồng Loan khí tức trên thân, mới biết được Hồng Loan là Huyền Huyết Linh chi.

      - Hóa ra là lão tổ.

      Hồng Loan nhìn Nhạc Thiên lão tổ một mắt, rồi lập nói với Nhạc Thành:

      - Cha, dongtam
      mu private
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      http://nhatroso.com/
      nhac san cuc manh
      tổng đài tư vấn luật
      http://dichvu.tuvanphapluattructuyen.com/
      văn phòng luật
      tổng đài tư vấn luật
      dịch vụ thành lập công ty
      http://we-cooking.com/
      chém gió
      trung tâm ngoại ngữchúng ta bắt đầu đi, lão tổ tựa hồ duy trì không lâu được nữa

      Hồng Loan nhìn thấy linh hồn thể của Nhạc Thiên lão tổ đã rất hư nhược rồi.

      - Được! , bắt đầu đi.

      Nhạc Thành chìm chìm khí, ngưng kết thủ ấn một trong tay thanh mang một lần nữa bao bọc trên bộ xương.

      Thân hình nho nhỏ của Hồng Loan đột ngột thả đã vị trí song song của bộ xương, khoanh chân mà ngồi lơ lửng ở trên trên không, trong tay thủ ấn biến hóa, sắc mặt hơi trầm xuống, cái miệng

      Delete
  2. I ALSO WAS A MEMBER OF THIS COMMUNE, AND ALSO AGREE WITH MY COUSIN GAYLE WALKER. I WAS ALSO ABUSED IN EVERY SINCE OF THE WORD. FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME AT klanding@hotmail.com, or look for kimberly landingham on facebook

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  3. What you found out is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. I am a resident of Sumter County, Alabama. The local newspaper, the Sumter County Record Journal has published numerous stories about the “cult” of which it is called around here.
    You would not believe the stories they have written about this “cult”. Children dying in the dorm fires on two different occasions, the same dorms they speak of on his Reach web page. There were also accusations of rape, child abuse, voodoo curses and the like. Even murder accusations were told to the newspaper.
    Several lawsuits netted those who sued nothing. They would file bank bankruptcy at the drop of a hat to avoid the pay-off. The organization did have millions collected in the name of the abused children. The only problem was that the children that were begging for the money were the children who were being abused.
    They claim also on their reach website that they have the only black owned truck stop, Nobles Truck Stop, in the nation. They did until it went out of business because two or three years ago. The IRS shut them down for nonpayment of taxes.
    There are also ties to foreign leaders who are enemies of the United States, I’ve been told.
    The Associated Press in Alabama has written stories about the practices that go on at the Holyland and Reach organization. Sixty minutes even did a documentary on the show in the early 90’s.
    His daughter, I believe form Massachusetts, even turned on her own father and clued the newspaper in over 15 years ago to the Bishop Luke Edwards’ deeds in Sumter County.

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  4. Do you think Reach , Inc helps abused children?
    Check out this website and decide for yourself. This group, The Watchman, has done extensive research about the group or better known as a cult in Sumter County, Alabama.

    http://www.watchman.org/Profile/reach.htm

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  5. On May 29th 2010 I saw this group with a sign asking for donations Reach Inc. This was in front of the Fullers Market in downtown Greensboro Alabama.The sign said abused children. Their was a handicapped child all twisted in a wheelchair with the sun directly beating down on her. I dont know what would be child abuse if this was not a example a adult woman was with her and I ask why she had no sha deor waterfor this ill looking frail child and she laughed at me. People were giving money as they passed as she was a heart wrenching site. I called the store manager and reported what I witnessed. My question after reading all of the above why is DHR or some agency not looking in to this group and why have they been allowed to operate when todays incident was clearly a case of child abuse.

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  6. Thanks to all of you for your feedback. I will continue to keep you informed as to the group's actions as I gather info. Please continue to post any and all sightings or personal experiences.

    Thanks again!

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  7. Reading all of these comments I am in tears. My brother recently came home from being with his father who is involved in this "organization" and I can not express how blessed we are to have him back. I personally was involved in an occult unknowingly when I was 11 years old and was abused physically mentally and spiritually. Also, having to run from men on the daily basis so that I would not be raped. They kept me away from my mother, whom they locked in a random house telling her she needed to go on a surjourn for 40 days and 40 nights. They all persuaded her that she was going to this house just to get her head together but lied of course and had her there alone for months. I was in anpther home alone with drunks and child molesters and lesbians women trying to "examine" my 11year old body. My younger brother was away from me also , theres no telling where he was but I was very afraid. I had never been away from my mom or brother for any period of time especially with people I didn't know, my mother would never put me in such a situation. It hurts to talk about this and I amd surprised that I can do so but I feel like my story will help someone else and maybe these "organizations" will be shut down and those people will go to jail. The place where we resided was ran by Reverend Bevel, he was about 65 at the time and he was also charged with raping his own daughter and a few other girls in the house. He pled guilty also as I heard and died in jail. I feel as though no one should have to go through such torture in their life. My mother and I are currently fighting to keep my brother away from this man who is involved in REACH and for the custody of him so that he will not go back, the situation is heart breaking. The pain I feel is excruciating, I never in a million years would have thought we would have to endure such stress and pain just to keep a family member around, especially him. I will leave this comment as anonymous but I will truly appreciate it if anyone has any recent or past information on Bishop Luke Edwards and any attorney that could help us please reply and I will contact you with an email or phone call.

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  8. Reading all of these comments I am in tears. My brother recently came home from being with his step father who is involved in this "organization" and I can not express how blessed we are to have him back. I personally was involved in an occult unknowingly when I was 11 years old and was abused physically mentally and spiritually. Also, having to run from men on the daily basis so that I would not be raped. They kept me away from my mother, whom they locked in a random house telling her she needed to go on a surjourn for 40 days and 40 nights. They all persuaded her that she was going to this house just to get her head together but lied of course and had her there alone for months. I was in anpther home alone with drunks and child molesters and lesbians women trying to "examine" my 11year old body. My younger brother was away from me also , theres no telling where he was but I was very afraid. I had never been away from my mom or brother for any period of time especially with people I didn't know, my mother would never put me in such a situation. It hurts to talk about this and I amd surprised that I can do so but I feel like my story will help someone else and maybe these "organizations" will be shut down and those people will go to jail. The place where we resided was ran by Reverend Bevel, he was about 65 at the time and he was also charged with raping his own daughter and a few other girls in the house. He pled guilty also as I heard and died in jail. I feel as though no one should have to go through such torture in their life. My mother and I are currently fighting to keep my brother away from this man who is involved in REACH and for the custody of him so that he will not go back, the situation is heart breaking. The pain I feel is excruciating, I never in a million years would have thought we would have to endure such stress and pain just to keep a family member around, especially him. I will leave this comment as anonymous but I will truly appreciate it if anyone has any recent or past information on Bishop Luke Edwards and any attorney that could help us please reply and I will contact you with an email or phone call

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  9. Again as I read comments I left without money. And I was abuse. Well to join Bishop movement its a choice you have to make he don't force you to join or stay. But again you didn't understand what you was getting into. This movement is a life time deal not a short term. I didn't join because I knew it wasn't for me cause I wanted to travel all over the world and see things. Some people that joined was in very bad situations back child support, debt ect This organization paid there debts off so it will freed from that burden. In exchange for you life, and life style that was the trade off. And this is what many people didn't understand. So they joined for the wrong reasons when things happen, they blew things out of proportion. When ever you get a group of people together in one place you will have rape, child abuse ect but didnt that also happen in the bible. I am not standing up for abuses that was said to have happen what im saying, this is not a perfect world and if children was abuse then our government responsibility is to investigate, and if theyn find the guilty party put them in jail, and if the don't find anything you move on. Quit black people trying to pull down a black mans accomplishment, if you didn't like it move on if you got abuse move on but by all means you cant say he didn't try help people, and you cant say he didn't try to love somebody all this man did is had a dream and made it a reality. This type of work is not for everybody. Going to heaven is not for everybody you enter at the strait gate... Only a few will enter so heaven is not for everybody you get the meaning.Just remember before you join anything do your homework and count the cost. Mark 10:28-30 it says no man that have left house brethren sisters and father or wife or children for my name sake and the gospel wait then Jesus says in the next verse receive a hundred fold and he name those things but you will get these things through persecutions. And the world to come eternal life. The meaning of persecution The act or practice of persecuting on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs that differ from those of the persecutor. Just because you believe different than Bishop Luke Edwards that's okay, but don't put what him down cause alot to them people would have been on welfare, drugs, and Jail had not Bishop Luke vision didn't come to passed. And it would have cost the State of Alabama thousands of welfare dollars. Peace

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