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Natural disaster relief work”: a scam

“Natural disaster relief work”: a scam? My family’s in-depth involvement with Watchtower as a corporate entity and my personal involvement with multiple RBCs.

TL;DR—Dad was high up MBA for watchtower, I got involved in the RBC at a young age and ended up figuring out how watchtower turns natural disasters into profits.

A little back ground about myself, my family’s involvement with the management of Watchtower(specifically my dad), and my personal experiences working with RBCs in Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, and Indiana from the early 90s through 2008.

My dad had originally went to Brooklyn Bethel in 1961 and served there until 1982, just before I was born in May of 1983. He was married to my mom in 1972 by none other that the infamous Brother Knorr(I have the wedding talk on an old reel to reel if anyone is interested). 15 of those 21 years he served as the Factory Overseer under Max Larson. From 1982-1997 he served as some what of a consultant to higher ups at Bethel. When I was a young kid we would go on “vacation” from our home in Atlanta, GA several times a year to Brooklyn Bethel. We always stayed in really nice Bethel rooms in the Bossert or 90 Sands and my dad would have to go to meetings every day for a week while my sister, mom, and myself got driven all around NYC by some newbie Bethelite that probably pulled the short straw.

In 1997 we moved to be close to Paterson Bethel so my dad could become what is know as a “Commuter Bethelite”, which basically means that he had to supply his own housing because of having minor children but in all other aspects was a Bethelite. Even our whole family could go and have meals in the dining room and use the recreational facilities. This was a very rare “privilege” extended to the “elites” that could offer services that were very rare to come by in the run of the mill single 19 year old Bethelite, i.e. Doctors(Dr. Shiller at Paterson had a family of 6 children), lawyers, computer programmers, and MBAs(my dad).

The whole reason my dad was called back to Bethel in 1997 was to work on an ultra secret project that had to do with implementing a software program called SAP. Now I do not know the details or any specifics but it is a software that is designed for huge entities(read corporations) to track and manage assets, both monetary and personnel. These assets in the case of Watchtower include things like $90 million buildings in Brooklyn and huge warehouses full of rolls of paper and printing presses in upstate NY.

When we would go and visit him in his office at Paterson we would have to call his secretary in advance and he would have to shut down his computer and lock certain things into file cabinets before we could come in. Looking back at it now it was sketchy as hell but 15 year old me was so brainwashed I never even questioned it. Now my dad never talked a lot about his projects but I have been able to piece a few things together from what I remember at the time and slowly getting my dad to talk about it over the past few years and here are a few of my observations.

First Watchtower is extremely cash poor. What does this mean? A multi billion dollar corporate entity can own such things as $1 billion chunk of real estate in Brooklyn but if it can’t pay the electric bill it means nothing. This was the state they were in 1997 when my dad started working at Paterson. My dad has told me that Watchtower was basically living paycheck to paycheck to keep the lights on despite having billions in assets. I’m 100% confident that this was when the decision to move out of Brooklyn was made. My dad told us one day that the days of seeing “Watchtower” from the Brooklyn Bridge were limited, this was in 1998 or 1999 I don’t really remember exactly. I’m also fairly certain that the decision to take over local KHs to be able to access cash from the sale of the real estate was made then as well. I’m sure it took a long time to work out the legal aspects of this and that’s why we have been seeing the implementation of this over the last 10 years.

Second the amount of mismanagement of resources was astounding. My dad came home one night and I remember distinctly hearing him and my mom talking about the fact that “some hair-brained kid in the purchasing department” had bought $700,000 worth of toilet paper because he got a good deal on it. This coming right after my dad had discovered that they had like a 5 year supply of toilet paper stockpiled across Brooklyn Bethel, Watchtower Farms, and Paterson Bethel. I have lots of other examples however this one is my favorite.

Now on to my personal involvement:

My first quick build experience was in 1994 about 4 months after I was baptized, I was 10. I loved it! My dad took me and we mixed mortar for the brick layers at the Dyersberg, TN Kingdom Hall. Over the next 4 years I went to countless builds with my dad and we worked on HVAC, Electrical, and Mason crews. Then we moved to CT for my dad to become a commuter Bethelite and he stopped having time to take me to quick builds. When I was 16 I quit high school and started to homeschool. I went to work for a brother doing high end construction so I could use my trade skills to work with the RBC when I turned 18.

As soon as I turned 18 I went to work with the electrical crew at the Newburg, NY Assembly Hall. In 2002 my dad’s project at Bethel was wrapping up and my parents decided to move to eastern PA to retire. I ended up moving there too and got involved with the local RBC. I had started my own construction company building houses and doing remodeling. At one point I had 10 employees, all witnesses and 4 were pioneers. At this point the local RBC had asked me to take charge of the pre quick build site preparations. This basically meant that I would help coordinate the layout and foundation work so that it was ready to go when 250 people showed up on a Thursday to slap up a building in 4 days. This often took weeks to accomplish and often involved me taking my paid crew to the site and working for several days. Needless to say I was on top of my little pathetic JW world.

Then I met a girl.... my hormones as a 24 year old took over and we ended up getting reproved and I lost all my privileges with the RBC(well publicly). I would still get calls to bring my backhoe to dig up a broken septic system at a KH or to plow snow in the winter with my truck, I just couldn’t have the title anymore because I touched some boobs.

I spent the next year getting my privileges back and that’s when I got a call to go on “hurricane relief work” with the RBC in 2005 and uncovered what I think is one of Watchtowers biggest sources of cash.

I had talked to brothers and sisters that were involved with relief work in the 80s and 90s and from what I can tell it involved going to an area where a natural disaster had taken place and assisting the local RBC rebuild or fix damaged Kingdom Halls. Made lots sense to me. What didn’t make sense to me was the people that I had talked to who had went to FL in the early 00s to do relief work that involved massive amounts of roofing, over months and months of time. Like 100s of people from RBCs all across the country went. Now I am not or have never been an expert on hurricanes but I am an expert in construction. What just didn’t make sense to me was that even if a hurricane blew the roofs off say 15 Kingdom Halls a quick build roofing crew could reroof one in a day easy and I was hearing experiences of people going to FL for 2 weeks and working on 10 roofs with their single crew. And there were dozens of crews being sent. Something didn’t add up but who was I to question. My goal was to be reappointed as a MS and become an elder before I was 25.

My call to relief work came in February of 2005. West Palm Beach, FL assignment of 1 week and and a crew of 15 of our most skilled brothers and sisters to do roofing. I finished up my secular work on Thursday afternoon, packed up my tools, and got in my truck and drove 15 hours straight to be at a pre-construction meeting for crew leaders at 1pm on Friday. The meeting was held at a local Kingdom Hall, and surprisingly there wasn’t any damage visible on the structure. They handed out crew assignments (we were all teamed up with a local crew that knew the ropes) and housing accommodations for all members of our crews. I believe there were members from 13 RBCs there that Friday.

Saturday morning we drove to the address of then building that we were going to put a new roof on. To my surprise, because I still thought this was relief work helping the local RBCs with damage to Kingdom Halls, we pulled up to a house. A nice house. I mean a really nice house. A $750,000+ nice house. About half the roof has been covered with tarps. Once again who was I to question the sole organization of god? We went to work. It took our crew of 15 about 3 days to remove and reroof this house. We moved on to our next assignment. Another house, not quite as nice but still a $400,000+ house. 2 days. That was the end of my first trip. 5 days with 15 people and we did about $45,000 worth of roofing. And to top it all off: I met a local pioneer sister who surfed! Spoiler: I ended marring her and then got divorced when I started waking up. I was waking up as she dug in deeper, it was toxic.

Full of pride, a sense of major accomplishment for doing “relief” work, and over active 24 year old virgin hormones I went home. I ended up making 3 more week trips over the next two months to work on the RBCs roofing projects and of course to spend time with a certain female. We got married in late 2005. In the spring of 2006 more local hurricane damage not as bad as the year before but enough to keep local crews busy with roofing, siding, and general repairs to brother and sister’s homes all across south Florida. This is when i really didn’t feel right. We would go into gated communities with very expensive homes and do all this work in the name of “relief” work when in fact there was really no relief needed, just a call to a local construction company and a check from your homeowners insurance....and then I figured out what was going on and why there were so many different “teams” involved in this “relief work”.

There was the “assessment team” which went and determined what needed to be repaired. The “procurement team” who handled vetting materials and getting them delivered. The “compliance team” that handled getting permits, this was important because most of the time as volunteers you would need the home owner to pull permits which depending on the area can be very complex. Then Of course there was the actual crews that preformed the work. Then lastly there was the “quality control team”. This was the brothers who went behind and made sure that the insurance checks the homeowners received got donated. And now we have arrived at the crux of it all: the MONIEEEEEESSSSS!

So what happens is buildings get damaged, insurance companies write checks to homeowners for the value of the of the repair work(materials and LABOR), and then watchtower collects. I know realize that when you hear people talking about going on “disaster relief trips”, the most recent ones being in Puerto Rico, they are going on trips to help Watchtower collect insurance checks. Now I will say this, I was witness to several instances of people with little or no money in a bad situation with damage to their homes and we helped them out and Watchtower didn’t get any money from them but I assure you the work on the mansions more than made up for that And even then people with tiny houses that had insurance more than likely donated their checks as well. It really is an amazing scam. The cash flow has to be incredibly because 60-70% of a projects cost is usually labor and Watchtower has a limitless supply of free labor.

And now to wrap it all together. Several years ago before I completely left the religion I had a conversation with my dad about this. When I told him what I had figured out about “relief work” he just shook his head and said “There were many meetings I was in when I commuted to Paterson that made me uncomfortable”.

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Eva Arnold
Eva Arnold
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This is really low!

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