Supporters fight to maintain home's UU identity
In 1915 Sarah Doolittle, a Universalist, donated her family home in Foxboro, Massachusetts, to the Massachusetts Universalist Convention as a retirement home on the condition that Universalists would receive admission preference. The Doolittle Home has served since then as a haven for Universalists and Unitarian Universalists.
But last spring a struggle developed about whether the home would continue its UU identity. Currently almost half of the home's 33 residents are UUs. Several UUs were on its board of directors. Some residents and supporters of the home say, however, that a new board chairman, Jack Authelet, has begun turning the home against its Universalist heritage.
The home's original bylaws required that the majority of the corporation's officers be Universalists. The bylaws were changed by the current board to eliminate that provision.
On April 22 about 20 people were prevented from attending the home's annual meeting. The group had planned to present the names of 16 UUs to serve on the 18-member board. Denied entry to the meeting, the group met instead at the Foxboro Universalist Church and elected its 16 candidates to a new board that will seek legal means to protect and strengthen the home's relationship with the UUA.
Authelet told UU World he could not respond because the complainants had given him “no details whatsoever” about their complaints. The matter is in the hands of attorneys, he said.Gretchen Van Ness, the UUA's attorney, has met with an attorney for the home. “We want to bring the leadership of both groups together to talk so that the spirit of Sarah Doolittle's gift can be maintained,” said Van Ness.