Adopt A Debt for the Mateel Community Center Rolled Out
Darryl Cherney and the Mateel have announced the beginning of the Mateel Adopt a Debt campaign on www.YouCaring.com with an accompanying FaceBook event page. Cherney, along with a group of Mateel supporters, came into KMUD studios for an interview Saturday morning.
Darryl explained the Mateel Adopt a Debt and its purpose sayingThe Mateel is one of the hearts of Southern Humboldt County. Now that it has incurred a very large debt, we are faced with a question of whether our Community Center is going to go bankrupt or whether we are going to step up as a community and save our hall.
To me, in these troubling times, both nationally and locally, having this 700 [person] capacity hall in the center of town is essential to the survival of our community. So, regardless of what it takes, I decided to put myself out there and co-ordinate an Adopt a Debt program.
Cherney said, “the Adopt a Debt program takes the debts one at a time because that’s the way houses are built, that’s the way communities are built… one step at a time.”
The YouCaring page features a debt of the week, but also lists all the Mateel’s outstanding debts. Cherney says there are about $500,000 in debts to businesses and entities that provided services that haven’t been paid. And that the Mateel owes about $200,000 to community members who loaned the Mateel money. These are the ‘bridge loan’ holders. Cherney says these debts are also listed on the YouCaring page, but the names of the people who made the loans have been withheld for their privacy.
Cherney explained that when you make a contribution, you can specify which debt you want to pay toward. He also explained that the Mateel has opened a separate bank account for the Adopt a Debt donations, “You can be sure that the Adopt a Debt payments are not going to be used in ongoing operations at the Mateel.”
Cherney’s five-year-old daughter Abbey and her bestie, Paige Taliaferro, talked about their love for the Mateel. They fondly remember “Nature Joe” who brought a collection of exotic animals.
Paige’s mom, Cassandra Taliaferro, has been active with the Mateel since her teen years. She talks about the Nerf Battles she has recently been hosting at the Mateel. She said, “The Mateel is ‘us,’ so it’s up to each of us to use the center in the ways we want to see it used.”
Her idea was born at her son’s birthday party. “I had my son’s birthday party there last year and we had a Nerf Battle, and it was super fun.” From that she thought she could turn the Nerf Battles into an ongoing youth activity. She said, “I thought I could probably handle doing this about once a month, and we opened it up as a public event. We are doing it the last Friday of each month. We have about 20 kids and they have a blast.”
And Board Member Bruce Champee spoke about the depth of meaning the Mateel has in the unique community people call Southern Humboldt.
“A lot of synergy happens there for our community. There have been some amazing events there. People have been healed. People have been memorialized. People have been celebrated. The Mateel contributes to this community that we have, because we have this center to gather, to dance, to eat, and to enjoy each other’s company. That’s why we built it in the beginning.”
Champee said that despite the changes to Southern Humboldt from the economic boom and bust and despite the “green rush,” the Mateel remains a constant. He said,
“Children, young people, new people, old people have a place in the Mateel to come and gather, to enjoy themselves and to make culture together. Culture is how we do things around here, and it happens at the Mateel. We need our culture to continue otherwise, in this country, we have the culture of money and corporations.”
Champee remembered the Community Center has faced troubles in the past and said
“We’ve gotten through [tough times] before and I think we can get through it again. I’m especially hopeful the people who love the Mateel will stick with us, help us honor our debts and continue being patient with us, and that members and community members will step up and contribute to the ongoing success of the Mateel.”
Cherney reassured the community that it is his assessment that no “funny business” went on at the Mateel. He said, “I think the mistakes that were made at the Mateel were made of a genuine attempt to put on the best shows possible.” Cherney acknowledges oversight problems but says “They were not nefarious in nature, and that is one of the reasons I can be involved. I still believe the Mateel is an honest, good-hearted, blessed place.”
In addition to the Adopt a Debt program, the Mateel has other ways to contribute. Lifetime Memberships are available for $1,000. Lifetime Members are eligible to vote for the Board of Directors for the rest of their lives.
The Mateel is also offering a Season Pass for $1,000. The Season Pass gets its holder into all Mateel events for an entire calendar year.
Taliaferro and Cherney explained that the Mateel’s bylaws prevent different “classes” of membership for lifetime vs annual members. Therefore, the Lifetime Membership cannot be used as the Season Pass.
And the Mateel is simultaneously beginning its Pillar of the Mateel fundraising. Cherney described the Pillar of the Mateel fundraiser saying,”For every $2,500 donation, one foot of height around a supporting column in the Mateel Hall will be painted with the name, phrase or image of the donor’s choice.”
Locals who prefer not to go online can also go into the Credit Union and donate to account number 13597-53 or ask for the Mateel Adopt a Debt account. In the memo, donors can stipulate which debt they are earmarking their funds toward.