We would like to thank you all once again – the donors, and the partners who stepped up – for your overwhelming generosity to the victims and survivors of the building collapse in our community. In moments of tragedy, it is especially moving to experience the kindness of strangers and friends standing together to help.
This week, we will be disseminating all of the remaining donations raised by Support Surfside as gifts to all qualifying victims and family members.
Together, we raised nearly $5 million, and the entire balance of what was raised will be disseminated in full. None of the Foundations involved assessed any fees for this effort, and all of the time dedicated by our teams was donated in full, but the credit card companies and gift cards we used for emergency gift disbursements did charge fees for their services.
Determining how to most compassionately and thoughtfully disseminate these donations was a calculus that we would wish upon no one. There is simply no dollar amount that can ever bring back what was lost. These dollars were donated by nearly 17,000 people from around the world as an expression of care and love, and we took the process of overseeing these dollars very seriously.
We committed ourselves to be victim-centered, trauma-informed, fully transparent, and unified in this process, bringing together a steering committee comprised of three local Foundations, mental health specialists, local religious leaders, survivors of previous traumatic events, legal, health, and financial experts, and other community leaders. We partnered with the National Compassion Fund, who guided us through this process with their experience from dozens of other mass trauma events including the Pulse shooting, and the tragedy in Parkland. They guided us not only as experts but as survivors of traumatic events themselves, bringing a powerful perspective to the work.
We value full transparency, so we will be documenting our full process on the Support Surfside website, and publishing a final report with further detail in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please find below a few recent updates.
- In the immediate weeks after the collapse, we disseminated emergency donations to survivors and family members who were in acute crisis. Total amount disseminated: $733,900 (over the course of two consecutive rounds of gifts in the first few weeks after the collapse).
- We also granted emergency donations to a group of direct service organizations on the ground helping with the rescue effort, including wraparound services for families involved (food, housing, personal needs, grief support, caseworkers to help families retrieve lost documents, prescriptions, and other needs). Total amount disseminated: $290,000.
- We established a steering committee to oversee the balance of the funds, led by Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, president emeritus of Miami Dade College.
- We published a draft protocol for the use of funds and sought public input for 30 days. We read each comment and incorporated insights into the final protocol.
- We hosted a public Town Hall (Sept. 10, 2021) where the steering committee listened to feedback from all who wished to guide the process. Many involved families attended and gave feedback. We listened to each comment and incorporated further insights.
- We finalized protocols and published them for individuals impacted to be able to apply for funds. The National Compassion Fund did personal outreach to each impacted individual and family to encourage them to apply and to help them through the process. We conferred with the State Attorney’s office to confirm the identity of each applicant and sought (and received) a letter from the government confirming that recipients of these funds would not need to pay taxes on the dollars received.
- At the end of the application window, our steering committee met once again to deliberate and make determinations about how much people would receive, based on what category they fit into. (Deceased, injured, present that evening, not present that evening). With guidance from the National Compassion Fund, we finalized allotments and made payments, totaling the full amount of dollars left in the fund ($3,859,716).