The Seabird Sanctuary is facing scrutiny from the IRS and Department of Labor, but former employees are determined to keep the mission of the saving and rehabilitating birds going.
The news surrounding the financial difficulties surrounding the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary shouldn’t call into question the passion and devotion of the people who work there, said Robin Vergara, a former employee of the Seabird Sanctuary.
“It’s strictly against the management and the board,” Vegara said.
Vergara and other former employees are working at rehabilitating the mission of the Seabird Sanctuary, just as the Sanctuary does for the birds.
“We do have people on board who want to do this right,” Vergara said.
The Seabird Sanctuary is currently under review for unpaid taxes and the Department of Labor. Workers have come out to say that they haven’t been paid in weeks.
“When you go weeks without pay, and still, show up for work, you know where their passion is,” Vergara said.
Vergara and others have reached out to the owners of the Seabird Sanctuary’s land with plans to reformat the Sanctuary without the management of Ralph Heath, Vergara said.
Heath has gone on record with Tampa Bay 10, admitting that workers haven’t been paid, but that was because of the current state of the economy and donations that have dropped.
The Sanctuary is currently putting out a fundraiser to reach $100,000 in the next 60 days, and a newsletter stating that they will be moving to a volunteer-based environment and selling non-vital equipment.
“The public needs to educate themselves before they donate another dollar to them,” Vergara said.
The boat boat by Heath for the Seabird Sanctuary, Whisker, was left docked until it was in decay before Heath decided to try and sell it for parts, Vergara said.
Vergara and others have put up a facebook page with their intentions for what they’re looking to accomplish.
“We all want to help the sanctuary, but we can’t help it in the way it is,” Vergara said.
If the Seabird Sanctuary can’t be helped, Vergara and his group plan to start a grassroots organization for the birds.
“It doesn’t mean the mission will stop, The mission will go on,” Vergara said.