While the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal has affected many organizations associated with Penn State, the aftermath of the controversy has had an especially profound influence on The Second Mile, a nonprofit organization founded by the former Nittany Lions assistant football coach, who was found guilty last week of 45 counts of child sex abuse.
While 200 children are enrolled for a summer camp program in State College later this summer, The Second Mile employees are aware that this may be the charity’s last series of youth programs, as officials await a court approval that would transfer five of the organization’s programs to Arrow Child & Family Ministries Inc., a Texas-based non-profit.
Dave Woodle, interim CEO and board vice chairman of The Second Mile, told JJIE that the organization is “just waiting for a trial date” at this point.
“It could be months away, it could be weeks away,” he said. “There’s really nothing else to be done until that date.”
Though Arrow Child & Family Ministries, Inc. officers have said that the hope to hire all of The Second Mile’s current employees, Woodle said there are no plans for The Second Mile board members to join Arrow’s board.
Arrow officials have said that they have plans for creating local advisory councils upon transfer of programs, and while program expansion into other states is a possibility, the organization is primarily focused on keeping the Pennsylvania programs in operation. An estimated $2 million in funds is expected to be transferred to the Houston-based firm once the deal is finalized.
“I think they’re going to build upon a lot of the benefits of the programs, but they will be looking at their own policies they’ve used and make sure these programs operate within their policy guides,” Woodle said.
While layoffs resulting from the transfer are a possibility, Woodle said that current The Second Mile employees are well informed about their futures.
“We’ve downsized already, and that’s been a major impact,” he said. “I think everyone understands where we’re at and has a feeling of who will go.”
Following Sandusky’s arrest last November, donations to The Second Mile began shrinking, with volunteers and organizations that formerly referred children to the non-profit refusing to associate with the charity. During Sandusky’s trial, prosecutors alleged that the former Penn State defensive coach used the charity as a means of scouting victims, although several former Second Mile campers testified in his defense.
Further controversy arose last December, when The Second Mile CEO Jack Raykovitz was criticized by board members for not informing them about abuse allegations leveled against Sandusky in 2001 and 2008.
Throughout the scandal, however, Woodle said that most of the attention given to his organization was impartial, specifically regarding the positive effects of the program for local youth.
“We’ve helped so many individuals, and I think that has been conveyed in the number of articles I have read,” he said.
“I think that got some fair shakes, to be honest.”
Photo from The Christian Post