VANCOUVER, B.C. — Former caregivers and staff at the Multicultural Helping House are finally speaking out on the alleged misdeeds of its president, Tomas “Tatay Tom” Avendaño.
A known community leader, Avendaño is accused of pressuring caregivers to buy expensive insurance, sold by his close friend Norilyn Delos Reyes before they can access services at the Helping House.
“I keep on getting feedback from the clients telling me how Tom sells them insurance and clients felt they need to buy insurance before they can get the services,” said former caregiver Rhea Villavicencio.
“This is not a marketplace, insurance is not part of MHHS, travel agency is not part of MHHS, co-op is not a part of MHHS.”
Another former staff explains that it took caregivers this long to speak out because they were afraid to rock the boat.
“This guy was like a god in the community. He is loved, honored, respected, and if you’re only one person, you can’t speak up. But what happened was, in this instance, I think they have reached a tipping point, and they started speaking,” said Crisanta Sampang.
Avendaño denies all the allegations against him and is now seeking legal advice.
“Hindi tama yung allegations na, they just play around with my integrity. Hindi maganda na. I think kung maliit lang siguro puwede ko silang patawarin but we have already, go to the bone of my very very soul.”
BC member of the legislative assembly Mable Elmore says this exploitation of vulnerable newcomers needs to end.
“The responsibility rests with the current board, so we need them to step down and for the multicultural helping house to do the job that it’s intended to do.
The former caregivers are also demanding a stop to the conduct of private business at the Helping House.