By: Sharon Aron Baron
With more than $6.5 million donated to the Stoneman Douglas Victim’s fund, headway is being made to distribute the money to the victim’s families.
In the aftermath of the mass-shooting that occurred in Parkland on February 14, the Broward Education Foundation set up the victims fund on GoFundMe to maximize resources and ensure a victim-centered, transparent distribution process of donations.
On Tuesday, April 10, the Broward Education Foundation and members of their steering committee will present two 90-minute Town Hall meetings at the Rick Case Arena on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. During the Town Hall meetings, fund administrators will explain the Draft Protocol and the claim submission process. Potential claimants and the general public are invited to attend the Town Halls to provide input and comments. Information collected from these group meetings, various communications and correspondence between the claimants, other interested parties and the fund administrators will be considered in finalizing the Final Protocol.
“We are grateful to have the guidance of the National Compassion Fund and the benefit of its experience in administering similar funds in the aftermath of other mass casualty crimes but, ultimately, we want to hear from the students, teachers, parents and members of the community at large. We want their constructive feedback on these Draft Protocols,” said former U.S. Senator George LeMieux, chair of the steering committee. “With a community as large and diverse as ours, we have no illusion that we can issue a protocol that will satisfy everyone. However, we can promise that we will thoughtfully consider all feedback and suggestions derived from the public comment process with the driving intent of arriving at a protocol that will provide the greatest amount of help possible to the largest number of people.”
Once finalized, the Final Protocol and application information will be disseminated to all known and registered victims and made available at NationalCompassionFund.org beginning May 1.
“The steering committee has a solemn obligation to honor the intent of donors to help the victims by administering these funds in a way that is fair, transparent, and victim focused,” said LeMieux. “These funds are a gift, an act of charity from the tremendous generosity of individuals and organizations. Our role is to fairly administer these funds for the direct benefit of the victims, within the context of other available services. We are inspired by the generosity of the public to help as many people as we can, as much as we can, though we are aware of our constraints and limitations.”
These gifts are not based on any economic loss or expenses incurred. Those particular losses may be reimbursed by the Florida Crime Victim Compensation Bureau, and the steering committee seeks to avoid any overlap with those existing benefits.
“These gifts are given to victims without any restriction on their use. We believe that victims and survivors are in the best position to determine which use would be most beneficial to their healing,” said Christina Fischer, Broward Education Foundation Board Chair. “We also believe that empowering victims to decide for themselves is yet another way to help them regain the control that was taken from them on that horrific day in February.”
The Fund is one part of an ongoing continuum of care in response to this tragedy. Immediate assistance was available through Florida’s crime victim compensation program and a myriad of crowd-sourced funding sites. Long-term governmental and community assistance will likely be provided, though it may take up to 18 to 24 months for that assistance to become available. This Fund offers assistance in the medium term, to bridge the gap.
“We do not know how much money will be raised, but we firmly pledge that 100 percent of what is donated for victims will be distributed to victims and their families,” said Shea Ciriago, executive director of Broward Education Foundation. “We will continue to accept donations through June 30. We appreciate the generosity of all who have donated and those that will donate in the coming weeks.”
In addition to https://www.gofundme.com/stonemandouglasvictimsfund, those who want to donate can also text-to-donate to 20222 with the message PARKLAND which will forward $10 to the Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund, facilitated through Bank of America. Corporate or personal check donations designated in the memo line for the “Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund” also can be sent directly to Broward Education Foundation, 600 SE 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.
Town Hall meetings will be held at two times on April 10: 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Rick Case Arena on the campus ofNova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. To RSVP visit https://nationalcompassionfund.org.