Fund Needs To Detach The Strings From Victims’ Money

To the Editor:

Cristina Lafferty-Hassinger, daughter of the Sandy Hook principal lost in 12/14, spoke out in an March 6, 2013 Danbury News-Times article, of her frustration with how the United Way of Western Connecticut is distributing the monies from the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, which News-Times reported to now be at $10 million. Key issues were the delay in getting funds distributed and requiring “proof of hardship.”

I find her comments to be disturbing. Donated monies should now have been essentially all turned over to the families of the victims and the appropriate first responders.

Lest we forget, it is their money.

I suggest a specific amount of money be immediately turned over to the victim’s families and to the key first responders for their use in coping with the horrific impact of 12/14. Allow them to decide how best to use the funds.

Donors would have insisted that these monies be handed over to the families with:

(a) No requirement to come forward and request funds.

(b) No need to justify what the funds will be used for.

(c) No requirement to keep receipts or reconcile with benefits from their own medical insurance.

(d) No delay in distributing the monies.

(e) No administrative costs deducted from the monies contributed.

(f) No direction given as to how each individual’s share should be spent.

No one can judge each family’s many needs as they struggle with this ghastly horror. For some, a week in Disney World may be the best near term aid. For others, replacing an older trouble-prone car will reduce their anxiety somewhat.

I suggest the United Way/Newtown Savings Bank fund immediately write checks to each of the 26 victim’s family for $225,000. Checks should also be immediately given to first responders with the amount based on the extent to which they were exposed and traumatized as they performed their duties.

Estimated total cash dispersed as instant checks is $6 million, money that those impacted need now. Indeed, needed three months ago!

The Newtown Savings Bank/United Way fund would still have $4 Million for other benefits or unusually needs.

I would ask former Senator Lieberman and current Senator Blumenthal to work with the IRS to have these funds be tax free. IRS may already have such a provision, I just do not know.

United Way/Newtown Savings Bank fund is singled out only because it is the largest. Smaller funds should consider a similar approach.

A great many people are working very hard to do the right thing with the monies being donated and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

Frequently, however, the simplest approach is the best.


Steve Bennett

4 Monitor Hill Road, Newtown March 13, 2013

More stories like this: 12/14, United Way, first responders, funds, victims
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