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Monday, 5 December 2016

Edward Sanders: Broom Poem / KaChing! squeaked the toy mouse clothed to represent Audrey Hepburn

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Hi world, it's a bit cold with this rain But it's better than Barrel bombs and air strikes, The besieged #Douma: image via Ahmad Alkhatib @AhmadAlkhtiib, 2 December 2016

Edward Sanders: Broom Poem 

   Bomb
then clean up

Strafe
then broom up

Laser
then swab up

Drone
then brush up

Hack 
then pick up

The same
back to Pork Chop Hill

& then
all the way
back to Troy VIIA (1000 bc)

& beyond

                                                                        3 December 2016
                                               

File:Dig in Troy.jpg

Archaeological excavation in Troy: photographer unknown, 1937

Ancient Troy
 
Ruins of Ancient Troy. Ancient Troy was once a mythical city, known only through the text of Homer’s Iliad. In 1870, however, the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the ruins of Troy (and several cities above and beneath it) in northwest Turkey. He located the city by scrutinizing the text of the Iliad, and laboriously exploring the area on foot: IKONOS space imaging satellite composite image, 18 July 2000; image processing by Robert Simmon (NASA)


Flight of Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius from Troy: Luca Cambiaso, 1555-60, pen and brush and brown wash, 404 x 281 mm (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg)


For years, regime propaganda mocked estimates of civilians trapped in East Aleppo. Now it proclaims to have saved 10s and 100s of thousands.: image via Tobias Schneider @tobiaschneider, 3 December 2016 


Today most of the attacks are on #Idlib city, more than 30 martyrs, half of them in a massacre in #Kafranbel photo from @SyriaCivilDef
: image via Asaad Hanna Verified account @AsaadHanaa, 4 December 2016



Syrie: au moins 46 morts dans des raids probablement russes à Idleb (ONG) #AFP
: image via Agence France-Presse @afpfr, 4 December 2016




Horrific #Assad/#Russia bombing of towns in #Idlib today - 50+ people reported killed, including many women and children. #Syria: image via Charles Lister Verified account @Charles Lister, 4 December 2016
 

Media activist @abdulazizketaz, aiding baby after she was under the Rubble of house destroyed by Assad air strikes in Maaratanuman of #Idlib
: image via Hamada Awad @hamadaalawad, 4 December 2016 



A horrific massacre has been perpetrated by #atrocious_Assad in #Kafranbel today. #Syria 12 civilians have bn killed: image via Kafr zayta @SPRINGNOWTIME, 4 December 2016


#Assad warplanes killed 25 civilians in #Kafranbel in a chain of air-raids targeted Kafranbel and the nearby towns in #Idlib #Syria
: image via Kafranbel English @kafrev, 4 December 2016



From the brave people of #Kafranbel who were bombed today by #PutinAssad warplanes. #Syria
: image via @Revolution Syria, 4 December 2016


#Kafranbel...endless pain...:
image via Nino Fezza @nfcinereporter, 4 December 2016

 KaChing! squeaked the toy mouse clothed to represent Audrey Hepburn


SF "Helpers" charity for #developmentallydisabled led by #JoyBianchi is subject of @sfchronicle investigation
: image via Caroline Zinko Verified account @CarolyneZinko, 4 December 2016

Joy Bianchi walks down the red carpet before the Opera Ball, celebrating the opening night of the San Francisco Opera in September 2016. Photo: Leah Millis, The Chronicle

Joy Bianchi walks down the red carpet before the Opera Ball, celebrating the opening night of the San Francisco Opera in September 2016: photo by Leah Millis / The Chronicle, 4 December 2016


So honored to be part of the #helpershouseofCouture 40-year couture retrospective by #JoyBianchi #fashion #couture: image via Auvê Daily @AuveDaily, 17 October 2015   San Francisco, CA


SF "Helpers" charity led by #JoyBianchi gave no grants for a 6-year period while amassing millions: image via Caroline Zinko Verified account @CarolyneZinko, 4 December 2016

A fashionable San Francisco charity's  ugly reality: Caroline Zinko, Karen de Sá and Cynthia Dizikes, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 December 2016

San Francisco socialite Joy Venturini Bianchi has long been a striking presence among the city’s elite, soliciting donations and earning accolades from fashion icons, philanthropists and politicians for the cause she says propels her: helping people with developmental disabilities.

At a recent VIP fundraiser at Ghirardelli Square, Bianchi, 78, beamed in a silver-sequined dress and her signature oversized eyeglasses as she received a state Senate resolution honoring her “outstanding community service” and “high business ethics.”

Yet some donors to Bianchi’s 60-year-old charity have struggled with concerns that their donations were misused, raising doubts they said were never resolved.

A Chronicle examination of the public financial records of Helpers Community Inc. — known until 2015 as Helpers of the Mentally Retarded — shows the $6 million charity indeed appears to have strayed from its cause, pursuing questionable practices with scant oversight from a small board that includes its director, Bianchi, and her longtime friend.

Over the last decade, filings to the Internal Revenue Service reveal the nonprofit has done little charitable work while amassing millions of dollars in assets and donations and generously compensating Bianchi, as she travels to red-carpet galas from Beverly Hills to Manhattan, appearing alongside celebrities such as Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Katy Perry.

Joy Bianchi and John Rosin wait to cross the street to attend the performance of the San Francisco Ballet season-opening gala in 2013. Photo: Alex Washburn, Special To The Chronicle

Joy Bianchi and John Rosin wait to cross the street to attend the performance of the San Francisco Ballet season-opening gala in 2013: photo by Alex Washburn / Special To The Chronicle, 4 December 2016

Helpers’ mission statement defines its “most pressing and important goal” as supporting quality residential care for the developmentally disabled. But in the past 13 years, the charity has given nothing to residential programs. And for a six-year period from 2003 to 2008, Helpers gave nothing at all to any charitable cause, according to financial records.

Bianchi, meanwhile, has been paid far above the norm for directors of charities. With base compensation of $193,828 in 2015, Bianchi earned roughly $100,000 more than the CEOs of about two dozen similar San Francisco nonprofits, according to a leading charity watchdog group.

Five accounting experts and a former bookkeeper for Helpers, who reviewed 18 years of the charity’s financial disclosures to the IRS at The Chronicle’s request, questioned Helpers’ legitimacy as a nonprofit and cautioned future donors about contributing.

“It’s absolutely appalling; it turns my stomach, actually,” said La Salle University Professor Laura Otten, who has advised the nonprofit industry for 30 years. “In the nonprofit sector, we take money from people with a promise. The farther we go away from the mission, the more eyebrows we are going to raise.”

Based on The Chronicle’s findings, the San Francisco assessor’s office is reviewing the property tax exemptions Helpers receives as a charity.

Bianchi and her board members defend their organization, and dispute any notion they are mismanaging the charity. They consider it “misleading” to characterize Helpers as primarily a grant-making organization, saying their mission also includes consultation and education. Bianchi’s compensation is commensurate with her duties, they said, and they believe it would take three people to replace her. Bianchi works as many as 80 hours a week, according to the board.

“We’re very happy with what we’re doing,” Bianchi said in an October interview, adding that in years when Helpers’ donations to other nonprofits were minimal, “we were fiscally responsible for our donors’ money, and they trusted our judgment to find where those dollars — according to our standards — would make a difference in the lives of those who are developmentally disabled.”

Helpers board President Peggy Bachecki, however, said that the organization “is arriving at a crossroads” and must re-examine its resources -- its investments and real estate -- and how it is benefiting the developmentally disabled. The board pledged to do more with its “targeted grant-making” and hire outside advisers to help with accounting, finances, strategic planning and legal matters.

From 1963 to 2002, Helpers housed people living with developmental disabilities in a collection of stately homes near Golden Gate Park. Since then, it has relied on Bianchi’s personality and persuasiveness to become a fundraising and advocacy organization, raising money and selling donated designer apparel at its resale shops to support other nonprofits.

But Helpers granted nothing to any charitable organization until 2009, the group’s records show. Since then it has given about $405,000 — primarily to purchase wheelchairs for people with developmental disabilities and to fund Medical Missions for Children, a Massachusetts nonprofit that finances surgeries to repair congenital facial defects in countries such as Tanzania and Cambodia. Other funds have gone to a gardening program for the developmentally disabled and a music program for rural children in Washington state.

Bianchi said Helpers has not given more to charities because she has struggled to find suitable recipients. At some residential centers for the developmentally disabled she has visited, she said, she saw scenes that disturbed her, including one resident spending all night sitting in a chair and others receiving too many psychotropic drugs.

“I went incognito for about four years traveling throughout the U.S. trying to find facilities we could help,” Bianchi said. “It was very difficult to give money away.”

Asked why Helpers did not give money to prominent residential programs for the developmentally disabled in the Bay Area, such as those operated by The Arc San Francisco, board members declined to comment.


Joy Bianchi helps Allison Thompson try on a hat at Helpers House of Couture in San Francisco. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

Joy Bianchi helps Allison Thompson try on a hat at Helpers House of Couture in San Francisco: photo by Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle, 3 December 2016 

Bianchi volunteered for Helpers as a teen in the 1950s, eventually joining the organization in the 1960s just as it opened its first residential care home. For roughly 40 years, money raised by the organization helped fund its group homes, which boasted lush drapery, crystal chandeliers and needlepoint-covered chairs. Helpers cared for a total of 33 residents, offering them craft-making workshops and lessons in etiquette and fine dining.

Bianchi steered the charity’s fundraising efforts toward her love of high fashion, opening a boutique called Helpers Bazaar in 1966 in donated space at Ghirardelli Square. The shop sold crafts made by Helpers’ residents, and designer apparel donated by clothier Wilkes Bashford and others.

After Helpers closed its homes, Bianchi began soliciting donations of high-end apparel from socialites and philanthropists for resale at private shopping parties. In 2008, she opened an appointment-only resale shop, Helpers House of Couture, in one of the former group homes on Fulton Street. Contributors of clothing have included philanthropists Ann Getty, wife of billionaire oil heir Gordon Getty, and British fashion designer Stella McCartney.

The boutique offers eight rooms full of designer-label apparel and accessories, including Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Christian Dior. Stacks of handbags and shoes line shelves and floor space alongside glass displays showcasing hundreds of pieces of paste jewelry. 

Bianchi, an effervescent hostess, greets visitors to the boutique with tales of Helpers’ history and its vast collection of designer goods, with pieces selling for thousands of dollars.

A longtime San Francisco resident, Bianchi emerged as a fashion icon in the mid-2000s, her celebrity boosted by widely published photographs of her elegant presence at high-society events.

Bianchi already was known for another high-fashion fundraising effort, “Mouse Couture.” For that campaign, begun in 1995, Bianchi enlisted top designers to create outfits for toy mice that were sold in the bazaar.

A toy mouse clothed to represent Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face." Photo: KATY RADDATZ
Bianchi said the idea came to her when a mouse scampered across her path one day in Manhattan. In that moment, she said, she realized people fear the developmentally disabled like they fear mice, and she decided she could help combat that fear by dressing mouse-like dolls in formal wear.

“I was in front of a window at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and a voice came to me and said, ‘Dress the mouse, dress the handicapped, so people can find their souls,’” Bianchi recalled in a recent interview.

Such statements dismay some disability rights advocates, who questioned Bianchi’s approach to the vulnerable population her organization vows to serve.

“I see this not infrequently -- sort of well-intentioned people who miss the mark,” said Katie Hornberger, a lawyer with Disability Rights California, a prominent legal advocacy group. “There are some outmoded ideas about people with disabilities.”

Hornberger also pointed to the organization’s longtime name: Helpers of the Mentally Retarded, which was changed to Helpers Community Inc. only last year. The term “retarded,” Hornberger noted, has been considered offensive for at least 15 years.

Bachecki said Helpers is unaware of such concerns.

Joy Bianchi and Sonya Molodetskaya pose for a photo at the San Francisco Symphony Gala at Davies Symphony Hall in 2014. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle
 

Joy Bianchi and Sonya Molodetskaya pose for a photo at the San Francisco Symphony Gala at Davies Symphony Hall in 2014: photo by Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle, 3 December 2016

John Bradfield (left), Joy Bianchi and Karen Caldwell attend the cocktail hour during the San Francisco Symphony Opening Gala at Davies Symphony Hall in 2012. Photo: Laura Morton, Special To The Chronicle 

John Bradfield (L), Joy Bianchi and Karen Caldwell attend the cocktail hour during  the San Francisco Symphony Opening Gala at Davies Symphony Hall in 2012: photo by Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle, 3 December 2016



They Earn a livelihood amid Doma stricken! .. December 5, 2016 #Douma #Syria Photos by: Rami Saleh: image via Khaled AL Homsi @PalmyraPioneer, 5 December 2016

 


They Earn a livelihood amid Doma stricken! .. December 5, 2016 #Douma #Syria Photos by: Rami Saleh: image via Khaled AL Homsi @PalmyraPioneer, 4 December 2016

 

They Earn a livelihood amid Doma stricken! .. December 5, 2016 #Douma #Syria Photos by: Rami Saleh
: image via Khaled AL Homsi @PalmyraPioneer, 4 December 2016



They Earn a livelihood amid Doma stricken! .. December 5, 2016 #Douma #Syria Photos by: Rami Saleh
: image via Khaled AL Homsi @PalmyraPioneer, 4 December 2016


One of the #Assad rockets fall near to #Alsukari neighborhood in East #Aleppo: image via IRT @InsRepTeam, 3 December 2016


L'incendie d'Oakland a fait 30 morts et le bilan va s'alourdir encore) #AFP
: image via Agence France-Presse @afpfr, 4 December 2016 



The #EiffelTower in a haze of pollution on Dec. 4, 2016 in #Paris. By Lionel Bonaventure @AFPphoto: image via L'Instant-Paris Match @instantmatch, 4 December 2016

 
Skyscrapers: the sun rises behind buildings poking through the clouds on a foggy morning in Dubai, UAE: image via AFP news agency @AFP, 45 December 2016 

An Indian army soldier runs amid smoke from canisters during a session to showcase skills at the Army Service Corps training centre in Bangalore, India, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
An Indian army soldier runs amid smoke from canisters during a session to showcase skills at the Army Service Corps training centre in Bangalore, India: photo by Aijaz Rahi/AP, 5 December 2016 

An Indian army soldier runs amid smoke from canisters during a session to showcase skills at the Army Service Corps training centre in Bangalore, India, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) 

An Indian army soldier runs amid smoke from canisters during a session to showcase skills at the Army Service Corps training centre in Bangalore, India: photo by Aijaz Rahi/AP, 5 December 2016 


Seagulls sit on poles in Friedrichshafen at the Bodensee (Lake Constance), southern Germany: photo by Lino Mirgeler/dpa/AFP, 5 December 2016



Seagulls sit on poles in Friedrichshafen at the Bodensee (Lake Constance), southern Germany: photo by Lino Mirgeler/dpa/AFP, 5 December 2016