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Colorado Healing Fund addresses distribution questions

Charity to support mass shooting victims hosts virtual news conference
memorial outside club q in colorado springs.jpeg
Posted at 1:36 PM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 19:57:24-05

The Colorado Healing Fund, a charity organization created to support victims of mass shootings, held a virtual news conference Thursday to address reporter questions about the distribution of funds collected in the aftermath of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs.

Executive Director Jordan Finegan said some $220,000 in cash disbursements were paid this week to the 24 victims who were injured and the families of the five victims killed in the November 19 mass shooting.

The fund has also spent $150,000 helping victims with immediate needs like making rent payments, covering lost wages, and funeral expenses not covered by the state's victim assistance fund.

The fund traces its origins back to another mass shooting in Colorado Springs, the attack at Planned Parenthood in November of 2015. Board president Cynthia Coffman was the Colorado Attorney General at the time.

"We ended up taking a collection among some of the senior staff in the AG's office to buy a plane ticket for the college-aged son of one of the police officers who was injured in that shooting," Coffman recalled.

Coffman consulted with the Nevada Attorney General's Office following the Las Vegas mass shooting about best practices before officially launching the fund in 2018.

The charity's mission is to act as a means for securely collecting public donations in support of mass shooting victims. The fund has supported victims from the Boulder grocery store mass shooting, the Mother's Day mass shooting at a birthday party in Colorado Springs, and the mass shooting at a tattoo parlor in Lakewood last year.

It received a one-time grant of $1 million from the Colorado Victim's Assistance Fund as seed money. That seed money enables the charity to respond quickly with financial assistance as large fundraising efforts continue.

Finegan said an estimated $1.8 million has raised through the Colorado Healing Fund since the Club Q shooting. However, none of that money has reached their bank account. All financial assistance paid to Club Q victims thus far has come from that seed money.

"Typically what happens is when a donation comes it, it takes about 30 days for that donation to hit somebody's bank account," Finegan explained.

"With us having the seed fund we can recognize the rate at which donations are coming in, make an assessment based on talking with the victim advocates on the ground talking with the individuals who have experienced this tragedy, and get money out as soon as possible."

The fund supports shooting victims and their families through the Colorado Organization for Victims' Assistance (COVA.) The advocates with that group know the victims intimately and work on their behalf to get their needs met.

Board members believe this is a more equitable way to financially support shooting victims in both the short term and long term. Board member Steven Siegel drew a comparison to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Officials there used a formula to distribute the money based on those who died and the number of nights victims spent in the hospital.

However, Siegel said many people who suffered hearing loss as a result of the bombing were initially turned away from hospitals and told that their hearing would return.

"Lo and behold, that was not the case. Many of those people were deaf, and all of the funds had been distributed already without account for that population of people," Siegel pointed out.

Over the weekend, victims and survivors from the Las Vegas and Orlando mass shootings held a news conference in Colorado Springs, calling on charities raising money for Club Q to give 100% of donations to the victims.

The Colorado Healing Fund currently collects a 10 percent fee on donations to support its operation. Finegan and the board members said their annual expenses amount to roughly $130,000. That money pays for Finegan's salary, the annual audits of their finances, and a few miscellanous costs.

Thursday's news conference was conducted virtually because the fund does not pay to rent office space.

Finegan said a donor has come forward and offered to underwrite their administrative costs to allow 100 percent of donations to support the Club Q victims.

The fund publishes semi-annual reports tracking donations and disbursements. Quarterly reports published after the Boulder mass shooting are available on the Colorado Healing Fund web page.


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