Foundation Seeks Feedback On Needs, Barriers To Receiving Assistance

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation is seeking residents’ input through an anonymous online survey about how to go about distributing the remaining approximately $4.3 million, which has been set aside to support unmet needs in the community in both the short and long term.

Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Barahona, LCSW, told The Bee December 18 that in the first 24 hours the survey has been available to residents, more than 1,000 have already responded. But she is hoping for a much more significant representation from the community before closing out the survey in a few weeks.

“We want to hear from the community about what they need, and how we can assist them with the remaining funds available,” Ms Barahona said. “After careful review of the funds that came in, and talking to people at VA Tech, in Colorado and other locations affected by tragic incidents, we just want to be sure we can assist those who have unmet needs or are suffering.”

Ms Barahona said the current members of the distribution team, Addie Sandler, Bob Schmidt, Chris McDonnell (chair), Connie Sullivan, Gavin Arneth, Jennifer Clark, Joeline Wruck (vice chair), Kevin Cragin, Rob Bazuro, and Scott Ruszczyk, feel people around the world responded to help the entire community – responders, teachers, victims’ families and survivors, as well as the rest of the community. We are hearing from a few, but we think this anonymous survey is a good way to hear from many more people.”

The foundation leader said she and other representatives have heard repeatedly there is a concern being expressed by a number of residents and those affected, about providing information either because of their own concerns about privacy, or a because they are feeling that there are others suffering more than they are, so they are not justified in asking for help.

Ms Barahona said the survey software limits one response per IP address as a control measure.

“Everybody in our community was impacted, so we hope to hear from them with some direction on how we should be moving forward with the remaining distribution,” she said.

According to a cover letter from the foundation, an initial distribution from this fund has already been administered to the victims’ families, injured teachers, and most immediate survivors. But now it is time for foundation volunteers to make additional funding recommendations.

“We are humbled by the task before us and respectfully ask for your assistance,” the memo notes. “People around the world showed us their kindness and generosity following 12/14 and it is up to us as a community to take care of one another and use their support in the best ways possible.

Those responding to the survey should plan to spend 5-10 minutes taking it, so their voice can be heard. [Take the survey here.] The volunteers are also asking those who are or have completed the survey to help by encouraging friends and neighbors to fill it out as well.

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