Community, Government, Latest News, Morgantown Council

Butcher resigns from Rainbow House board

In posts to various social media outlets on Thursday, Brian Butcher announced he resigned from the Rainbow House board of directors on Monday, March 25, citing consistent threats being made against him and other board members as one of the main reasons. 

“I have come to this decision for many reasons, prioritization of the tasks I undertake on a volunteer basis and my needed level of involvement being chief amongst them,” he wrote in the post. 

The Dominion Post spoke with Butcher, who is also a Morgantown City Councilman, on Friday afternoon regarding some of the details influencing his resignation. 

“The biggest part of it was I felt like I was doing more harm to the project than good, simply by just being there,” he said, referencing what he said is a constant thread and narrative in the community that “because I’m on the board, I’m influencing decisions somehow with nonprofits or funders that I have no contact with.” 

He addressed the accusations in his post as well. 

“For clarities [sic] sake,” he wrote, “as most community members are well aware, I had no way of influencing the grant award process nor have I ever received any compensation whatsoever for any work I have done for the unhoused community including my volunteer work on this board of directors.” 

Butcher said after the announcement was made that the Bartlett House triage shelter would be closing due to lack of funding and Rainbow House had been awarded grant money, he began to receive anonymous threats on a “consistent, unrelenting” basis. 

“The homophobia and transphobia I have witnessed since the announced closure of the Bartlett triage shelter is disgusting, frightening and disappointing,” he stated in the post. “This hate in our community should not be tolerated but seems to be all too common now.” 

He told The Dominion Post, “For the first few days it was like 15-20 anonymous calls a day that I was getting, like blocked calls. When I would answer — I didn’t answer after a while — it was someone screaming homophobic slurs or just ‘F’ you. 

“People were saying they knew where I lived,” he said. 

Butcher said other board members have also received threats — even their children are facing harassment, with one board member’s child being told “Tell your mom she’s a b****.” 

Members of the board have even had people call threatening they know their car by the stickers on the back. 

Butcher said his presence on the board was “fueling false narratives perpetuated by vicious bad actors in our community.” For the safety of his family, the clients of the shelter and the rest of the board of directors, he felt he had to step down.

“So, it just felt like it was really fueling the homophobia and transphobia unnecessarily, by me being on it (the board). It was a hard decision, but I just felt like my presence there was just causing more problems.” 

Project Rainbow, the nonprofit behind Rainbow House, also posted a lengthy statement regarding the current misconceptions and false narratives, as well as the harassment the board members have received. 

“The false narratives being created about our agency are not only hurtful to the shelter and organization but have transpired into direct threats to past and present members of our Board, threats to our clients, and threats on our facility,” the group stated, in part. “During a time that should have been a celebrated milestone for our agency, we were met with concerns for the safety of the guests in our facility as well as those working on the project.” 

Despite the negativity toward him currently, Butcher said he was glad he got to be a part of Rainbow House from the very beginning.  

“I am just endlessly happy and grateful that people wanted to come on this journey with me and allow me to be a part of it. I know that they will do great work and they’ll continue to do great work,” he said. 

The now-former board member said he would always be there for any kind of advice needed and feels encouraged by the collaboration seen recently at a case conferencing with Bartlett’s board of directors and other local agencies. 

“That was one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen in terms of community and service — provided collaboration; hopefully we can see better things ahead,” he said. 

Anyone with questions about Project Rainbow’s funding, their policies, or the agency as a whole, may reach out directly to  

Butcher concluded, “I want to thank the entire board of Project Rainbow for involving me in this work since the beginning; it has been my life’s privilege to see it come to fruition.” 

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