Millions of dollars poured into Newtown after December 14th, 2012. It is my belief that people who donated expected that the money they donated would go to the Sandy Hook families most in need.I too, have had faith that the families who need financial support are getting it. And getting it NOW, when they need it most. When they can’t go back to work because they are too shattered by grief, or need to be at home for their surviving children; children who still have nightmares, children who can’t go back to school, children who have hysterics when they hear static on the school public address system.
But I’ve been doing some reading and I’m getting worried. This is from the Stamford Advocate:
Three months after Brian Rohrbough‘s only son was shot to death at Columbine High School, his family, like others whose children were slain, received a check for $50,000. For each family, it was a little more than 1 percent of the $4.4 million Healing Fund established after the high school shooting.
Rohrbough and many others were outraged.
“It’s not about how much money I received,” he said. “The truth is, when people donated this money, they expected it to go to the families.”
Over $20 million dollars have poured into Newtown via one fund or another. Did any of us imagine, with that kind of money around, that there could be a single Sandy Hook parent financially suffering just so that he or she can be home to greet their surviving children as they come home from school? It’s obscene to think of these families facing any kind of financial struggle when the whole world has flooded our town with donations.
It appears that contrary to what seems logical to me, funds unless otherwise specified should be directly distributed to the families, the opposite is true. That monies, unless donated with a specific purpose specified by the donor, are just sitting in the fund waiting for the determination of a task force or others. The largest fund, setup via Western Union and Newtown Savings Bank now has a Foundation with a task force for decisions about distribution of the funds.
The creation of the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, and the five board members who will oversee the organization, was announced late last month.
Those members are: Monsignor Robert Weiss, of St. Rose of Lima Church; Dr. Charles Herrick, chairman of psychiatry at Danbury Hospital; local attorney Anne Ragusa; former Newtown Finance Director Ben Spragg; and Joseph DeCandido, president of Nutek Aerospace Corp., in New Milford.
I know several of the members of this task force, I trust them. So, do we trust that the task force (and others) will make the right decisions to support all the Sandy Hook families in need? I hope so.
But things like this quote discourage me:
“I feel as though the United Way has been kind of stringing us along while they send the money to where they want it to go,” she said. “At first I thought maybe I was a little crazy thinking this, but everything I’ve learned about other tragedies has confirmed that this is a pattern where large nonprofits step up after a tragedy and then take the money and do with it what they please.”
So, what can be done? I don’t yet know… For now, I will put my faith in the task force and pray that they are listening to the people who are closest to those most in need.