I was scanning the Scientology-related news headlines yesterday when I saw that FLAG had put out a PRWeb press release about holding a volunteer recognition awards event at the Fort Harrison (where Lisa McPherson tragically died under very suspicious circumstances in 1995). Normally I don’t pay these things much attention as they’re usually vacuous affairs but this time I just happened to take a closer look.
On Memorial Day May 26, the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization hosted its second annual Volunteer Recognition Awards Event at the Fort Harrison in Downtown Clearwater.
Fifteen groups and individuals received the President’s (U.S.) Volunteer Service Awards which was instituted by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation as a way to thank and honor Americans for their volunteer service.
However this was the part that really caught my eye:
“This was the first year that the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization became a certifying organization for these awards.”
I decided to take a closer look at the recipients of these awards. Surely the cult wouldn’t just give most of them out to Scientologists and Scientology affiliated groups right? Wrong.
From the press release with added notes and links in bold:
The award winners were:
- Criminon Florida (Scientology front group), a non-profit organization whose primary goal is the rehabilitation of the criminal;
- The Clearwater Community Volunteers (CCV) (Scientology front group – info here and here): For their hundreds of hours fundraising for, organizing and carrying out Clearwater’s own Easter Egg Hunt and Winter Wonderland;
- The Clearwater Martin Luther King Neighborhood Coalition (Scientology front group), a diverse group of citizens who saved the Clearwater MLK Community Center from demolition;
- The Community Learning Center (Most likely a Scientology front group, why else would they promote a Scientology Finance Seminar with OTVIII Scientologist Drew Johnston?), whose tutors helped some 360 students to reach their academic goals;
- The East Coast Golden Age Theater (Most likely a bunch of Scientologists, their performances seem to typically be held at Scientology facilities and besides, who else would touch a story written by L. Ron Hubbard?), whose actors provide free performances for the community, schools, and senior citizens, encouraging and inspiring a love of reading in young audiences;
- The Foundation for a Drug Free World Florida (Scientology front group) for educating thousands on the Truth About Drugs through their materials, seminars and other events;
- The Stop the Violence Coalition, St. Petersburg that is helping to reduce crime in high-risk neighborhoods;
- The Way to Happiness Coalition of Florida (Scientology front group) that provides character building education to thousands in Tampa Bay;
- The Washburn Academy Volunteer Youth Core (Scientology “Applied Scholastics” school) for their work with Feeding the Hungry Tampa Bay, providing filled backpacks for children and being all-around volunteers for many different organizations;
- Youth for Human Rights Florida (Scientology front group created to deflect attention from the cult’s own human rights violations), whose volunteers distributed human rights materials but have been canvassing legislators to create legislation which will allow the teaching of the Human Rights Declaration in schools;
- The volunteers of Shriners’ Hospital for Children Tampa who help to interact with parents and the young patients and perform all manner of behind-the-scenes tasks;
- 7-year-old Andi Menaul (age is typo – probably supposed to be 17), (Scientologist working with CCHR, Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front group – info here, here and here) who has not only been volunteering every week for the past four years but has created her own youth group teaching thousands about the dangers of prescription drugs;
- 19-year old Humberto Perez, an architectural student volunteers relentlessly tutoring neighborhood children and helping in the community;
- David Albritton: chair, and member of many local boards who has been working to help Clearwater’s neighborhoods and its downtown; and
- Brigadier General Carrie Nero, the first African American female brigadier general who is now retired but continues to help veterans and youth day in and out.
So out of 15 awards 10 went to Scientologists or Scientology front groups. Yeah nothing at all self serving or disingenuous about that.