In 2019, Jurate asked Kimo if they should start a GoFundMe link to help with expenses related to incorporation . Since they had been working together to incorporate and Jurate was an Administrator on the page, she posted the link once she set up the donations page.
At the time, the Board had every intention of Kimo being our spiritual leader. However, we were cautious as Kimo had shown little leadership and the next months would help us make a decision as to how involved we wanted him to be. When he failed to follow through with his request for help in early 2020 with plans going forward, it seemed clear that we needed a different leadership direction. Therefore, in December of 2020, Kimo was informed of our incorporation and offered the position as Vaidila by the Board or Directors (consisting at that time of Jurate Rzeznik and Jonas Stundzia as Co-Directors, Marija Kuncaitis as Treasurer, and Laura Juozunas as Secretary) .
After we voted unanimously to remove the position of Vaidila from Romuva North America, Kimo claimed that his followers who contributed to the GoFundMe were angry that it was “misrepresented” and later he accused us of lying to them and cheating them. At that time, the donations totaled $290 (USD). Those donations paid the webhosting and domain expenses as well as ongoing fees for the bank account. In the interest of fairness, Jurate reached out to the four donors (only one person who donated had “Liked” Kimo’s page, but was also a member of Maryte’s group) with the following email:
“Dear Donor –
Thanks to donations like yours, Romuva North America has been able to incorporate as an official church in Michigan (recognized by all US states) and we’ve launched a new website. Educational materials are being written and community-building plans are being discussed amongst the Board of Directors and our Advisors. I (Leslie Jūratė Rzeznik, Co-Director) wanted to reach out and thank you personally.
However, recently there has been some confusion and in the interest of being fully transparent, we wanted to ask. Was your intention to donate to Romuva North America as an entity, or was your understanding that you were donating to Romuva North America with Kimo Arbas as vaidila? Our Board has voted to eliminate the position of Vaidila of Romuva North America for the time being and we wish to put the matter of who donations were intended for to rest.
Once again, thank you heartily for your donation and we apologize for the intrusive nature of this message.
Not one donor of the four indicated that they intended their donation to go to Kimo. We were prepared to give any disputed funds to Kimo, but there were none. asa matter of fact, the only person who was a follower of Kimo’s page who donated responded:
“Jūratė, as I recall, your original message speaks of incorporation, only, and that is what you did, apparently.
As a side note, once you are structured as a church (incorporated), and get an IRS tax ID number (simply for the benefit for business purposes) you do not have to file any IRS tax forms, etc, or think you are not a 501 (c)(3) organization.
I am not familiar with your state’s business laws, but if you think you have any type of tax question and would like to discuss it by phone, please let me know. From a federal level, (and possibly from your state’s level) I believe I could help you immensely.
May the gods and goddesses continue to bless us.“
We have always been transparent about our donations and have NEVER looked at donations as a “cash cow” as Kimo has alleged. There have NEVER been monies used for anything other than direct expenses. As a matter of fact, the only person who has ever hinted at donations being used to fund anything other than basic expenses is Kimo . No one has ever taken any kind of salary or claimed any personal expenses (travel, meals, etc.) related to their responsibilities as a member of Romuva or Board member. Over the last year and a half, Jurate has contributed hundreds of dollars of her own money to keep expenses paid and donated hundreds of hours developing the website and tending to administrative details. Maryte spends many hours each week moderating three different Facebook groups and managing the organization, as do the other Board Members and our Special Advisor, Prudence Priest. Our financial statement is available upon request by the tarybas.