Councilwoman calls for audit of defunct foundation

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 7/7/2022, 6 p.m.
The chair of City Council’s Education and Human Services Committee plans to seek a financial audit of the collapsed Enrichmond ...
Ms. Lynch

The chair of City Council’s Education and Human Services Committee plans to seek a financial audit of the collapsed En- richmond Foundation, which previously played a crucial role in providing support for city parks and recreation.

Fifth District Councilwoman Stephanie A. Lynch issued the statement in the wake of a Free Press article last week reporting on the sudden and unexpected demise of the independent foundation after 32 years.

Ms. Lynch said the closure has left in the lurch dozens of civic associations, parks and other recreation-related organizations that relied on the nonprofit to be their fiscal agent. “None of my neighborhood associations or nonprofits can access their money,” she stated.

Such groups “are the backbone of this city,” Ms. Lynch continued. “The trust between these groups and Enrichmond has been broken.

“We need to do everything in our power to protect these group’s civic assets as well as hold Enrichmond accountable,” she said. “We need to conduct a thorough audit and get a handle on how these groups can be made whole” financially.

As reported last week, the foundation’s board has resigned, its staff has been laid off and its bank account apparently has been depleted. The foundation’s website also has been shut down, although the Facebook page is still accessible.

On Tuesday an attorney for the foundation, Kerry B. Hutcherson, confirmed in an email distributed to representatives of its partner organization, that the organization is taking legal steps to dissolve.

The foundation’s collapse also is raising concern about the operation and maintenance of two historic Black cemeteries it owns, Evergreen and East End, located adjacent to Oakwood Cemetery.

Those cemeteries are to become the property of the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities after the foundation is dissolved, according to the foundation’s charter.

Ms. Lynch stated that she hopes to get more information from Mayor Levar M. Stoney’s administration at the next meeting of her committee scheduled for Thursday, July 14.

In addition, she plans to request that the full council authorize the city’s auditor to undertake the financial investigation.

The foundation appears to have no direct ties to the city, which apparently did not have a role in appointing board members or hiring staff.

The Stoney administration, including the mayor’s office and Christopher Frelke, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, has not responded to Free Press requests for information on Enrichmond.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette W. McEachin, responding to a Free Press query Tuesday, stated that her office has not been asked to investigate as there has “been no specific allegation of criminal conduct by or against any person.” She stated that makes it a civil matter.