History of Re-victimization
A history of mass shooting victims feeling re-victimized by nonprofits and the fight against it.
April 19, 1995 – OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING. 168 dead, over 680 injured. Years later, the fund continues to sit on multi-millions as victims ask for help and are told to apply for government funds. Oklahoma Disaster Relief Fund Under Fire (Brian Williams, Rock Center) https://www.nbcnews.com/watch/rock-center/oklahoma-disaster-relief-fund-under-fire-20372547848
April 20, 1999 – COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING. United Way collects over $4.7 million for a Healing Fund. 13 people murdered, more than 20 injured. Americans give millions to help the families of the Columbine shooting. Each family of a deceased victim receives 1.08% of the donations collected, each seriously injured receives 3% with another 2% each given out to 12 previous victims.
(Connecticut Post) http://bit.ly/116Meyz
Bottom of page 133 (page 155 in report on The Healing Fund): https://schoolshooters.info/sites/default/files/Columbine%20-%20Governor's%20Commission%20Report.pdf
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 – The worst terrorist attack in American history takes place with terrorists using planes as weapons to kill thousands of people to fly into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A heroic in-air attempt by passengers to thwart the third attack ends with the plane crashing into a field in Shanksville, PA.
Public-donated funds collected for victims never get directly to the victims' families. United Way collects donations that is not seen by victims. Red Cross is audited and found to have kept $200 million of the victims' money and the head of the nonprofit is fired and later gives an interview saying it wasn’t $200 million, it was $700 million and she had board approval. 9/11 Commission formed. Victims compensation expert Ken Feinberg is employed to distribute federal fund.
Victim’s parent worked directly with Sen. Ted Kennedy to get public donations collected for victims away from non-profits and directly to the victims’ families. (NBC News) http://nbcnews.to/YSt5wm
April 16, 2007 – VIRGINIA TECH in Blacksburg, VA. 32 murdered, 17 wounded. University collects funds, sets up Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, but victims have to fight for donations to be distributed properly. Victims ask for Fund to be kept open so they can work together with the University not only to help victims but also to continue to advocate for campus security issues. Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund is cut off, more donations come in but victims never see it.
February 14, 2008 – NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY shooting. 5 murdered, 17 wounded. 2008 Funds popped up using names and faces of loved ones murdered to solicit donations but the victims' families never saw any of the donations collected. Scholarships were set up without victims' families input.
February 12, 2012 – CHARDON, OHIO HIGH SCHOOL shooting. 3 murdered, 3 wounded. United Way comes in and starts collecting funds to help the families in a Healing Fund. Neither the public nor the families of the deceased are not happy. Grieving parents fight in court to try to get the donations collected for their families to their families. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt9syD9GnY8
July 20, 2012 – AURORA, Colorado theater shooting. 12 murdered, 70 injured. Governor Hickenlooper sets up the Aurora Victims Relief Fund in partnership with Giving First/Community First which uses those murdered to solicit donations. First disbursement of funds goes to 10 area non-profits while the nonprofit informs victims’ families that they don’t give money directly to victims and think it’s actually a bad idea to do so. They will be giving the funds collected in the Aurora Victims Relief Fund to other nonprofits and not to victims.
When this method for distribution is questioned by Tom Teves, the father of Alex Teves whose son was murdered while successfully protecting his girlfriend in the theater, he is told by Giving First exec Marla Williams, “If you want to raise money for the victims, maybe you should start your own fund.”
While they are grieving, families of the deceased must fight against the powers that be in the state of Colorado to receive the donations collected in their names and faces of their deceased loved ones. Three weeks after the shooting, when the families of the deceased repeatedly object to the nonprofit’s mission of giving to nonprofits instead of 100% to all the victims and then threaten to go public, Nancy Lewis from COVA unexpectedly interrupts a scheduled hearing in court about the shooter to ask the judge to allow them to release funds to the victims.
Having already been caught in one lie by the families of the deceased when the nonprofit said they never used the names and faces of their murdered loved ones to collect funds, then saying they plan to get board input and get back to families on the coming Friday, the nonprofit instead runs to the media to spin the news of the funds being released by COVA.
It’s is clear to the families at this point that Giving First/Community First is in partnership with Nancy Lewis at the nonprofit COVA.
When one grieving father is talking suicide, two family members of the deceased work to prevent it. While one keeps the father on the phone, the other calls the head of one of the mental health nonprofits that received the first $100,000 of the Aurora Victims Relief Fund, and begs for help. The exec director of the nonprofit doesn’t know who the father is and then asks if the father has insurance because he will have to go through insurance first. She hangs up and calls the D.A.’s office for help, which is given instantly. (After mass murder, Mental Health agencies and nonprofits receive MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in federal grants to support victims.)
Meanwhile, Giving First/Community First repeatedly alters its website’s wording. Families continue to collect screenshots.
A 9/11 father whose child was murdered and worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy steps in to help the Aurora families, gives them a playbook to try to fight these nonprofits, and tells them to call 911 special master Ken Feinberg
Families call special master Ken Feinberg and ask him to please help them. He gives interviews to the media that he is available to come in pro-bono to help disburse funds. He also calls the nonprofit to offer his services. The nonprofit is not interested.
After weeks and weeks of being lied to and re-victimized, the families of the deceased continue to ask Governor Hickenlooper for help, to no avail. Then they begin asking other politicians for 9/11 Special Master Ken Feinberg to be brought in to disburse the funds.
Congressman Ed Perlmutter steps in and helps to resolve the issue to the great relief of the Aurora families. He is seen as a Godsend to Aurora families, and is beloved to this day.
Ken Feinberg is finally brought in, invited by Hickenlooper. Giving First/Community First, Hickenlooper and Feinberg go the media to announce that Feinberg is stepping in.
Aurora families felt horribly re-victimized at the hand of Giving First/Community First and the 7/20 Recovery Committee which was made up of Steve Siegel, Rich Audsley and COVA.
Meanwhile, members of this group begin a campaign of revisionist history in the media which is perpetuated to this day (2021).
Tom Teves, the father who led much of strategy/charge against Giving First/Community First, and who challenged the 7/20 Committee about who keeps the interest on the donations, the victims or the nonprofit, is lied about to the Associated Press, which was disseminated by a 7/20 Committee member to try to destroy Teves’ credibility with other Aurora victims of the mass shooting.
Grieving family members who were also in the same meeting, must call the AP to correct the false information about Teves.
After public trust is broken, Giving First starts going by Colorado Gives.
The Aurora Victims Relief Fund is disbursed but not everyone who was a victim was helped.
Aurora families vow to change this for future survivors.
To add insult to the murder of his first born son, when checks were finally written to the families of the deceased, Giving First/Community First leaves Tom Teves’ name off the payment.
VictimsFirst begins on the victims’ side to try to keep this from happening to other mass shooting families.
Families of Aurora shooting victims say $5 million in donations going to non-profits, not them (NY Daily News): https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/families-aurora-shooting-victims-5-million-donations-non-profits-not-article-1.1146381
August 5, 2012 – OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN SIKH TEMPLE shooting. 6 murdered, 4 wounded (one died in 2020 from injuries sustained). Funds begin cropping up to capitalize on the deaths. Oak Creek victims must get up in grief and establish their own fund, go to the media to announce a trusted fund. Ken Feinberg, as he did in 9/11 and Aurora, helps the Oak Creek victims behind the scenes.
October 12, 2012 – Aurora, CO families of the deceased write a letter to the CO Attorney General’s office and Secretary of State’s office asking for an investigation into Giving First/Community First.
Fall 2012 – Families from Aurora ask National Center for Victims of Crime in D.C. to try to get a fund going to help those survivors from the theater who were not helped previously. They wanted everyone acknowledged as a victim in the theater and for those who needed help to be able to receive it, which was not the case when the fund was distributed.
December 14, 2012 – NEWTOWN/SANDY HOOK Elementary school shooting. 26 murdered. Just as in Aurora, predatory funds begin collecting donations. Outraged, two victims’ families work to expose them.
Dozens of funds set up for victims, the largest being the United Way with over $11.6 million in it.
No distribution plan in place as a committee decides what to do with "unspecified funds." Daughter of Shooting Victim Wants Funds Disbursed (Connecticut Post): https://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Daughter-of-shooting-victim-wants-funds-disbursed-4331443.php
December 16, 2012 – Victims’ families of Aurora travel to D.C. Anita Busch (Micayla Medek) and Caren Teves (Alex Teves) go to the National Center for Victims of Crime and request the directors to start a Fund for the Newtown families so they won’t be re-victimized by nonprofits the way the Aurora families and all these other families of previous mass shootings were.
2013 – Families from previous mass shootings have a conference call with the Newtown families to explain what is about to happen and urge them to contact 9/11 Special master Ken Feinberg. Many don’t believe that nonprofits will re-victimize them, until it happens.
COVA’s Nancy Lewis and Rich Audsley fly out from Colorado to help United Way, explaining that only a small number of families from Aurora objected to what they were doing.
A father from Newtown helping others stands up and asks them, “You mean that 11 of the 12 families of the deceased are considered an insignificant number of people to you?”
The Newtown families eventually find themselves negotiating back and forth with United Way behind the scenes on what it believes “public intent” were for the funds.
Newtown families then join with the previous mass shooting families to try to stop this kind of future re-victimization by nonprofits.
The VA Tech victim compensation model and the Aurora victim compensation model are combined and families of the deceased from all above mass shootings are brought together and they draft a new way of charitable giving: a fully transparent fund where public intent is realized and 100% of of donations collected are given directly to victims’ families.
April 15, 2013 – THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING. 3 murdered, hundreds injured (including 17 whose limbs were taken). Newtown families and Aurora, CO families begin calling the Mayor’s office, sending the new protocol and request that they make sure the families are not re-victimized by nonprofits and immediately establish a centralized Victims’ Fund.
One of the family members from Aurora, CO goes over the protocol with an executive at John Hancock and asks for full transparency.
The Boston One Fund becomes a fully transparent and efficient model for victims and is distributed by special master Ken Feinberg.
Without any nonprofits involved, the Boston OneFund collects $64 million for the victims/survivors in a completely transparent victims’ fund.
100% of public donor intent is fulfilled with victims receiving the funds directly in cash payments.
Families of previous mass shootings write an opinion piece that runs in the Boston Globe, asking for the Boston One Fund model to be established as the national model.
May 6, 2013 – OHIO KIDNAPPINGS. Three young women who were kidnapped when they were 14, 16, and 21, respectively, and were presumed dead are found in kidnapper’s house. They had been held for many years, and one of the women gave birth to daughter while in captivity; her baby was fathered by the kidnapper.
Nonprofits start collecting funds in their names, telling the public that it the donations will be used to “support the victims,” legal speak for being sent to other nonprofits and not going “directly to victims.”
Family of the deceased from the Aurora mass shooting and a woman who helped behind the scenes in Newtown call those who set up the fund and ask them to make sure the young women get the donations directly.
They tell us that’s not what they do. Their mission is to give to other nonprofits.
After several days of behind the scenes back and forth with us, 100% of the donations collected for the victims are earmarked to go directly to the kidnapped and sexual assault victims.
Meanwhile in 2013: The protocol two decades of mass shooting families devised is then given to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), and it sets up a dedicated Victims Funds with a slightly different structure than mass shooting families envisioned, but with 100% going directly to the entire victim base. The NCVC wins approval from its board to start the pilot program for the National Compassion Fund.
April 2, 2014 – FORT HOOD 2nd mass shooting. 3 murdered, 14 injured. While people are working, to get this up and running, a second mass shooting in Fort Hood happens.
The National Compassion Fund is created, named by Jeff Dion, the current executive director who is also a victim of crime as his sister was murdered years earlier.
The board gives approval to get the first pilot program set up. The Commanding General at Ft. Hood praises the process as the fund goes off without a hitch and 100% of donations go directly to victims in cash payments.
May 23, 2014 – ISLA VISTA shooting. 6 murdered, 14 injured. Donations are collected. Families from other mass shootings work hard to intervene to prevent further harm and re-victimization of the Isla Vista families. But officials won’t listen. Instead, officials install park benches while families struggle to survive financially.
Summer/Fall of 2014 -- The National Center for Victims of Crime brings the information from Ft. Hood back to its board and it moves quickly to help victims.
Isla Vista family members join with Columbine, VaTech, Aurora, NIU, Oak Creek, Newtown to endorse the National Compassion Fund.
Tucson and Alturas (CA) families endorse the National Compassion Fund.
Oct. 1, 2015 – ROSEBURG UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE shooting. 9 murdered, 8 injured. United Way and other nonprofits begin collection of donations. It uses a needs-based model, which is considered by victims as invasive. Other mass shooting families help behind the scenes as victims feel re-victimized.
One survivor asks United Way for funds to get mental help for PTSD and is denied.
Roseburg family members endorse the National Compassion Fund, joining with other mass shooting families of the deceased and injured.
December 2, 2015 – SAN BERNARDINO TERRORIST ATTACK shooting. This one becomes a workers comp nightmare with victims denied crucial pain and psychiatric medications and services. Aurora, Isla Vista and Tucson families respond to try to help the victims and survivors by bringing attention to the matter.
An Aurora, CO family member stands up to United Way during a public meeting and tells victims there to start asking questions about the fund. She tells the nonprofit that it has no business collecting funds after mass shootings because it is a community-based nonprofit. Families of previous mass shootings feel re-victimized by UW, specifically.
San Bernardino family members endorse the National Compassion Fund, joining with other mass shooting families of the deceased and injured.
June 12, 2016 -- Orlando Pulse Night Club shooting. 49 murdered, 53 wounded. Families organize and work behind the scenes to stop the re-victimization that about to occur once again. A local LGBTQ organization, Equality Florida, immediately starts a GoFundMe.
Aurora, CO mass shooting family call Equality Florida to make sure that the donations they collect will go directly to the victims/survivors. Families work diligently to make sure the funds from other nonprofits go directly to the victims/survivors.
The National Compassion Fund stands at the ready while victims from other mass shootings – Aurora, CO, NIU, Newtown, Oak Creek, Isla Vista, Va Tech – fly in to Orlando to hold meetings with the City to meet with people and prevent funds from being diverted from victims. Politicians, top donors, media are immediately contacted and informed about prior misdeeds by those nonprofits collecting public donations and never getting directly to victims.
Meanwhile, an emergency meeting is held in D.C. and the board of the NCVC decides to launch a National Compassion Fund for Orlando.
Aurora family member collects $53K in just a few hours for administration fees so 100% of what is collected could go directly to the victims in cash payments.
National Compassion Fund work with Equality Florida and Ken Feinberg as the families of mass shootings call top donors to make sure that donations meant for victims actually get to them.
Pulse families of the deceased and injured endorse the National Compassion Fund model, standing with other mass shooting families across the nation.
2015 to 2020 -- After Pulse, the National Compassion Fund is known and is called in after several incidents of mass murder while the network of mass shooting families continue to help behind the scenes time after time: Aurora (CO), Chattanooga, Parkland, Vegas (which did not implement the full philosophy of the National Compassion Fund thereby survivors were re-victimized), Jacksonville, Aurora (IL), Milwaukee, El Paso, Seabring (FL), Cincinnati, Santa Fe, Charlottesville, and in Thousand Oaks (where Aurora family member steps in to help). 100% to victims/survivors in cash payments.
VictimsFirst pulls together a trauma-informed Best Practices for Mass Casualty Crime after interviewing every category of victim. That is then shared all over the country after mass shootings.
Vegas victims/survivors endorse the National Compassion Fund.
May 5, 2019 -- The New York Times finally reports on some of what happened in Sandy Hook: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/25/us/politics/sandy-hook-money.html
2020 -- Pandemic hits.
2021 – As the country begins to open up, mass shootings are on the rise:
March 16, 2021 – ATLANTA SPA SHOOTINGS. 8 murdered.
Atlanta, like Boston, becomes a fully transparent model for the rest of the country to follow:
It sets up a Victims Fund with 100% going directly to victims via the National Compassion Fund. It sets up a separate nonprofit Education Fund for donors to help stop Asian Hate.
Full transparency, giving the public and corporations not only a clear choice but also letting everyone know where the funds are actually going.
Mass shooting families across the country and VictimsFirst applaud the structure and help get the word out on their efforts.
March 16 – OCONOMOWOC, WISCONSIN ROUNDY’S DISTRIBUTION CENTER shooting. 2 murdered. VictimsFirst assisted with bringing in trauma specialists to help victims. The National Compassion Fund was also brought in to ensure 100% of the funds collected goes directly to victims.
March 22, 2021 – BOULDER, Colorado King Soopers grocery store shooting. 10 murdered. Nonprofits, involving four of the same people/entities involved with advising previously re-victimized families from Columbine, Aurora, CO and Newtown funds, immediately start collecting donations.
The Colorado Healing Fund, once again, becomes the warden of public and corporate donations. Families of mass shootings across the country are alarmed that donations collected will be used at the discretion of the nonprofit rather than the victims.
Aurora, CO families are alarmed seeing the same group again – Nancy Lewis at COVA, Steve Siegel, and Rich Audsley, Community First, Colorado Gives (formerly Giving First) and others involved in Oklahoma, Columbine and others.
Families from other mass shootings across the nation call both the Colorado Healing Fund and the Boulder County Community Foundation to ask why there is no fund for the victims of this shooting.
The Boulder Community Foundation tells them that they are sending donations to the Colorado Healing Fund. They have no idea what they will do with “unspecified” funds at the Foundation, those funds not specifically directed. They are going to put a committee together to decide what public intent is.
However, they have asked the Colorado Healing Fund not to take its 5% from the funds it is sending over.
Jordan Finegan, the exec director of the Colorado Healing Fund, makes it clear that they have a different model for how they intend to handle donations collected in the names of the murdered victims.
She tells a family of the deceased from Aurora that their aim is to “replace the National Compassion Fund.” What is at work is an invasive, needs-based model.
Families from other mass shootings across the nation start a GoFundMe for Boulder families to try to prevent donations from going to other nonprofits instead of directly to victims.
March 24, 2021 -- Three family members from other mass shootings call the CEO of Kroger which owns the Roundy’s Oconomowoc Distribution Center and the following day, the National Compassion Fund is brought in to set up for those victims. VictimsFirst helps behind the scenes to bring in trauma specialists. 100% of donations will go directly to victims/survivors.
March/April 2021 – VictimsFirst is contacted by two of the families of the deceased from Boulder who are distraught over what is happening with the two big nonprofits collecting funds and ask for assistance.
Families of previous mass shootings across the nation answer the call. They draft a letter to warn the Boulder families of their prior experience with nonprofit behaviors.
Families together share their experiences with nonprofits the public.
Colorado Healing Fund sends out information to the media that the public can send donations into victims accounts at FirstBanks, even though there are no victims accounts at the bank, there is only the bank account for the nonprofit.
The Colorado Healing Fund will keep 5% in administration fees and hold even more donations back.
Who benefits from the interest? The nonprofit or the victims?
April 15, 2021 – INDIANAPOLIS FED EX FACILITY shooting. 8 murdered, several wounded. VictimsFirst, once again responds, and joins hands with the Sikh community which had four members murdered, meanwhile helping families of the deceased and those injured with information and resources.
VictimsFirst advised those on the ground (Red Cross) and provided the local community with our Best Practices.
The National Compassion Fund is brought in and sets up a straight-to-victims fund with 100% of donations going directly to the victims and survivors. https://nationalcompassion.org/fund/indianapolis-4-15-survivors-fund/
April 19, 2021 – John MacKenzie, the husband of murder victim Lynn Murray – on behalf of victims -- speaks with CO Attorney General Phillip Weiser. Legal legislator Kurtis Morrison is also present on the call. MacKenzie voices immense concern about nonprofits Colorado Healing Fund and the Boulder County Community Foundation collecting donations on behalf of the victims’ families for nearly a month with no response to requested insight, information and transparency and why no victims fund has been established for Boulder. He tells the AG that COVA’s Nancy Lewis has been unresponsive to requests after conducting multiple “needs analysis.”
Yet another family calls the AG to request transparency, insight and information about what is happening with donations.
April 20, 2021 – WEST HEMPSTEAD, NY STOP & STOP shooting. 1 murdered, 2 injured. National Compassion Fund brought in so 100% directly to the victims and survivors in cash payments.
The National Compassion Fund has given out over $95 million (soon to be $100 million) to over 3,000 mass shooting victims in direct, cash payments, fulfilling public intent and allowing the victims/survivors privacy and dignity.
BACK IN BOULDER:
Mass shooting families across the nation rise up to help the Boulder families to stop what is seen as yet another privacy invading, needs-based process, with donations being parsed at the nonprofits discretion.
Boulder becomes ground zero in the fight between community-based nonprofits and mass shootings families, who have fought for two decades to make sure that their privacy and dignity is honored and public intent is realized.
June 15, 2021 - ALBERTVILLE, Alabama shooting. 2 people are killed and 2 are wounded in a shooting at the Mueller Co. manufacturing plant. VictimsFirst assisted with bringing in trauma specialists to help victims and the National Compassion Fund is called in to ensure 100% of what is collected is given directly to victims.
June 24, 2021 - SURFSIDE CONDO COLLAPSE (Miami, Florida). Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed killing 98 people. The National Compassion Fund is brought in to help equitably distribute the funds collected, joined by Javier Nava (Pulse survivor and VictimsFirst Board Member). Nava assisted with the process as a Mass Violence Relief Specialist for the National Compassion Fund, providing valuable input and translation services to help the victims of the condo collapse.
September 23, 2021 - COLLIERVILLE, Tennessee shooting. A mass shooting occurred at a Kroger grocery store in Collierville, Tennessee, marking the second shooting at the grocery chain in 2021. One person was killed and 13 others were injured. The National Compassion Fund was brought in to administer the fund in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and VictimsFirst—ensuring 100% of what is collected goes directly to victims. https://nationalcompassion.org/fund/collierville-survivors-fund/
November 21, 2021 – WAUKESHA PARADE TRAGEDY, Wisconsin. Six people were killed and 60 were injured when an SUV plowed into the parade and onlookers. United Way, which has repeatedly left families of mass casualty crime feeling re-victimized, steps in and starts collecting funds. Families from previous mass shootings from across the country call and are assured repeatedly by the Waukesha County Community Fund that 100% of what is collected from the public will go directly in cash payments to the victims of the parade attack.
After $5.6 million is collected, a committee is formed under the name United for Waukesha Community Fund which includes an executive from United Way. On the victims’ protocol are two sections allowing eligible nonprofits to apply for funds. One of those nonprofits is United Way’s own IMPACT 2-1-1 which is allowed to receive “priority grant funding.”
November 30, 2021 – OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL shooting, Michigan. Four students were killed and seven injured (including one teacher). Over $1 million is collected. The Oxford Village partners with the National Compassion Fund to distribute 100% collected directly in cash payments to families of the deceased, those wounded (shot), and those who were directly present and suffering from psychological trauma.
February 2022 – The Colorado Healing Fund continues to sit on donations meant for BOULDER shooting victims and has yet to be fully transparent on how the donations were distributed and where the remaining funds will go. The nonprofit released only two vague financial statements that lack detail.
Boulder families and those from VictimsFirst continue to press the Colorado Healing Fund to be fully transparent without success.
March 19, 2022 – Donations Collected for BOULDER VICTIMS. The Denver Post reports that an estimated $6.5M+ was collected after 10 people were murdered, none injured after the Boulder King Soopers’ shooting (The Colorado Sun estimated $8M). The Community Foundation collected $1.74M and gave $957K to COVA. Another $261K went to the BoulderStrong Resource Center. Another $529K was given to six grantees for community projects. The Museum of Boulder was given $160K when it was in the red $170K. Another $200K went to the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center.
They reported that “the Colorado Healing Fund gave $3.04M of the $4.78M it collected to the nonprofit COVA which went to 10 families and 27 others named as victims. It gave $959,100 to the Boulder Strong Resource Center (even though several families of the deceased live out of state), it kept $221K for itself and held back $570K for future needs (mid- and long-term).
May 2022 – BOULDER FAMILIES FIGHT BACK. Two months later, John MacKenzie (the widower of Boulder mass shooting victim Lynn Murray) and Starr Bartkowiak (the mother of Boulder mass shooting victim Tralona Bartkowiak) start speaking out about the re-victimization they felt at the hand of both the Colorado Healing Fund, whose executive director is 30-something Jordan Finegan and the Colorado Office of Victim Assistance (COVA). Nancy Lewis of COVA, which has received over $1M in donations from the Colorado Healing Fund, comes to their defense.
Finegan’s’ mother was involved in efforts after the Oklahoma City Bombing and heads the advisory committee which includes Rich Audsley, who was involved in re-victimizing the Aurora, CO mass shooting families (COVA was involved in making victims feel re-victimized as well).
It is during this time that Jordan Finegan admits that the amounts announced for the Colorado Healing Fund went up and down because of accidentally counting some donations twice. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/06/16/mass-shooting-donations-controversy/
In addition, we find out that COVA has also mismanaged over $450,000 in funds: https://www.denverpost.com/2020/05/27/cova-audit-grant-spending-human-trafficking-victims/
This same month, Mr. MacKenzie alerts both COVA and the Colorado Healing Fund that his time is running short (his health is deteriorating at a rapid pace) and asks for his family to receive the remainder of the mid- or long-term funds that were held back from donations collected after his wife was murdered. He is denied the request for funds by Jordan Finegan who calls them “demands” and tells him it doesn’t fit into their distribution strategy.
Jordan Finegan’s salary is doubled. 5 and 1/2 months later, on Nov. 4, Mr. MacKenzie dies penniless.
May 14, 2022 – BUFFALO TOPS' MARKET, New York. 10 people murdered, three injured. VictimsFirst starts collecting for Buffalo families. The City of Buffalo invites the National Compassion Fund in. 100% of the $6.45 million collected goes directly to families of the deceased, those injured, and those present.
VictimsFirst collects $250,357.00 for the victims and survivors. We also keep victims and survivors on their feet financially with immediate needs through our separate General Victims' Fund.
May 24, 2022 – ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL shooting, Uvalde, Texas. 21 people were murdered; 17 were wounded/injured. VictimsFirst immediately starts up a GoFundMe. The National Compassion Fund is invited to manage donations.
It is the largest minor victim base in U.S. history involving a mass shooting.
VictimsFirst also distributes funds for emergency financial needs through our separate General Victims' Fund while locating other resources, as needed, for the victims and survivors. In addition, VictimsFirst begins bird-dogging nonprofits and fundraisers that say they are collecting for the victims and survivors.
VictimsFirst (which ultimately collects over $7.6M for the victims/survivors) grants its funds to the National Compassion Fund which administers a total of $22M to the victims and survivors of the shooting.
July 4th – HIGHLAND PARK PARADE shooting, Illinois. Seven were murdered, 48 were injured. The Highland Park Community Foundation – run by a local realtor and a nonprofit executive – goes against the advice of the nation’s top experts and decides not to start a Centralized Victims’ Fund. Instead, they launch the July 4th Parade Response Fund based on the Waukesha United Way model. In doing so, it drafts a protocol that leaves out those present in the line of fire but includes nonprofits.
Families of previous mass shootings from across the country object, and demand that they include those present in the line of fire and also that money for nonprofits not be co-mingled with donations meant for victims.
Highland Park Community Foundation dismisses those suggestions and, despite repeated demands for transparency, will not reveal how much they have collected. VictimsFirst continues to collect funds and also help those present with immediate needs (financial help and other resources) while told repeatedly by victims that VictimsFirst is the only place helping them.
For the sake of victims, VictimsFirst also helps the Highland Park Community Foundation to make it legal for them to distribute funds to victims and also makes sure that they know to set up trusts for minor victims.
VictimsFirst collects over $937,000 for the Highland Park victims and grants those funds to the Parade Response Fund for only those categories deemed to go directly to victims to ensure 100% goes to victims and not to nonprofits.
Meanwhile, VictimsFirst continued to help those present in need of financial help. Most of those victims are from the low-income area of Highwood, IL.
VictimsFirst also writes a report to alert the City Council of Highland Park about what occurred behind the scenes and to again advocate for financial help to go to victims and survivors in low-income areas. This report was emailed to the City Council so that it would become part of the public record.
Nov. 14, 2022 – UVALDE Direct-to-Victim Distribution Begins. 100% of the $22M+ collected after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, TX shooting goes Directly to the victims and survivors.
Nov. 19, 2022 – CLUB Q NIGHTCLUB shooting, Colorado Springs, CO. Five dead, at least 25 injured. A local business, Good Judy Garage, starts a GoFundMe for the victims and survivors with the promise of 100% going directly to the victims/survivors.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Healing Fund (CHF) again starts collecting donations. Clearly not understanding the re-victimizing model the CHF has heaved on mass shooting families over the years, national and local LGBTQ organizations GLAAD, OneColorado, and the Contigo Fund (Orlando) endorse The Colorado Healing Fund.
Within days, VictimsFirst begins helping the victims and survivors of the mass shooting with immediate, emergency needs.
We are told by those on the ground, that anxiety is growing among victims and those behind the scenes delving into the Colorado Healing Fund over its structure/model after people begin to realize that there is no Centralized Victims Fund like the one in Orlando where 100% went directly to victims of the nightclub shooting. In addition, there is little to no LGBTQ+ understanding/sensitivities/competencies at the Colorado Healing Fund or COVA.
In an urgency to protect the Club Q victims from having funds diverted from them, which has happened repeatedly in Colorado, mass shooting victims and survivors from across the United States – including from the Pulse shooting – immediately fly in to condemn the re-victimizing practices of the Colorado Healing Fund and to demand that the Club Q victims receive 100% of what was collected for them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P12so8YH5Yo&t=842s
Not only was the Colorado Healing Fund doubling its administration fee from 5% taken from Boulder donations to 10% taken from Club Q without any discernable increase in operational expenses, but mass shooting families soon discover that the Boulder victims received only around 49% to 61% of the donations collected after their mass shooting (depending on the two estimates).
In fact, of the $1.1M+ that King Soopers/Kroger donated to the victims, only $10K went to the family of murdered victims Lynn Murray and Tralona Bartkowiak. Colorado Healing Fund kept some funds and also diverted donations to other nonprofits after the Boulder shooting.
December 2022 — Sol Tribe mass shooting victim advocates go public to also condemn The Colorado Healing Fund and also the Colorado Office of Victim Assistance (COVA) for the way they were left out and how they treated the affected LGBTQ+ community:
Bread and Roses Legal Center, which provided financial assistance and holistic support to Sol Tribe victims/survivors through direct mutual aid work, immediately begin helping Club Q victims and survivors in incredibly meaningful ways using a victim-centered approach. They worked around the clock to get much-needed financial aid directly into the hands of both Sol Tribe and Club Q victims/survivors.
The Colorado Healing Fund – Jordan Finegan, the disgraced politician Cynthia Coffman and Steve Siegel (who was involved in the re-victimizing model of the 7/20 Commission in Aurora where donations would be held back from victims/survivors) – then state that it’s going to bring in LGBTQ+ “advisors” while it continues to collect funds.
The nonprofit then confuse the media, the public and the victims by changing its language to state 100% will go to “victim services” according to its Fund chair – not 100% directly to victims – so donations are still going to its “community partners” (i.e. nonprofits).
Good Judy Garage invites in the National Compassion Fund to distribute and within a short time a committee comprised solely of LGBTQ+ -- which includes two survivors from the Aurora theater mass shooting – is established.
Mass shooting families from across America come together to announce and praise Good Judy Garage for following through on its promise to give 100% of the donations collected Directly to the Club Q victims. The name of the Centralized Fund becomes the Club Q Victims and Survivors Compassion Fund:
Nov. 22, 2022 – CHESAPEAKE WALMART shooting, Virginia. Six dead, four injured. VictimsFirst starts collecting for the victims of the shooting. A local, community nonprofits, The Planning Council in Norfolk, VA, begins collecting donations. Mass shooting families wait and see how this will be handled.
Dec., 2022 — Victims/survivors of the Highland Park Parade shooting who were present in the line of fire but left out of getting financial help from the Parade Response Fund take to social media to expose and condemn the re-victimizing model created by the Highland Park Community Foundation.
Meanwhile, in Norfolk, VA, The Planning Council announces that 100% of what is collected is going directly to the victims/survivors of the Chesapeake Walmart mass shooting. Families of other mass shootings call to thank them.
Dec. 23, 2022 — VictimsFirst grants 100% of the donations it collected on GoFundMe to The Planning Council so 100% will go directly to victims/survivors of the Chesapeake Walmart shooting.
VictimsFirst continues to help victims and survivors of Club Q with immediate emergency needs, those in Highland Park, and in Uvalde who need a little extra help during the holidays.