by Travis Mateer
I take in a lot of local information from a variety of sources, and sometimes a little blip of a story in local media gets a boost from secondary data. That’s what happened after I noticed this little story about what’s moving in to the old Taco John’s. From the link:
According to the Missoulian, a new tenant has moved in where Taco John’s once stood. That would be Dr. Khanna’s Returning Youth Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps young adults re-integrate into society after being released from incarceration.
According to their website, Dr. Khanna’s provides food, housing, personal skills training, education, and more to the young adults that pass through there. The organization has locations in 10 different states across the country – and in fact, this would be their second location in Montana. The other can be found on North Second Street in Hamilton.
Now, if this sounds too good to be true, I suspect it probably is. But I didn’t think much more about this story until I noticed this flyer posted at a pawn shop downtown:
This curious, small-print promotional flyer in the window of a pawnshop definitely piqued my interest, so I gave the contact person, listed under “Public Relations” for Montana, a call and this is what I found out about this dude:
This “non-profit” (which is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York) makes all sorts of claims about providing great opportunities and services, but the person I spoke with on the phone acknowledged some important things that make me question what’s going on here.
First, the Returning Youth Initiative is currently collaborating with a grand total of ZERO other agencies in Montana, despite being present in Hamilton for over a year. Isn’t that a little strange?
Second, the organization is 100% self-funded. How is that?
What it seems this “non-profit” IS doing, according to the PR contact in Hamilton, is they are creating local businesses, and for helping create local businesses, this New York based organization retains “partial ownership”. Also, the notion of “youth” is a little misleading, since those eligible for this “help” must be 18-30 years old.
Here’s a few more of the characters associated with this organization worth checking out because they seem totally legit.
It’s entertaining to click around these websites. For my quick exploration of this one, I went to the programs section of Khanna Returning Youth, then clicked Celestia Holdings, Inc., then clicked “Partnerships” and, after clicking some entity called Mars Trading, I find the director is…Clem Yeboah!
I wish organizations with initiatives that sound like they actually give a shit about “youth” were on the up and up, but I’m at the point of automatically believing the inverse of any altruistic claim.
Prove me wrong, Surajit!