The Newtown Lions Club Foundation has formally announced it has ceased directly administering benefits to providers and individuals through a fund established following the 12/14 tragedy.
Earlier this year, the local Lions joined in a partnership with Newtown Rotary Club, Newtown Memorial Fund, and United Way of Western Connecticut as a means to pool resources and maximize distribution efficiency.
The Newtown Lions Club Foundation established The Sandy Hook Elementary Fund (SHEF) in the wake of the tragic events of December 14, 2012. The fund was primarily established for underwriting the financial costs of mental health care counseling for families, staff, first responders and others affected with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related issues.
Peter McNulty, president of the Newtown Lions Club, said in a release, “Our original plan estimated that we would need to serve about 100 individuals for approximately 10 years. During the past 14 months we have provided benefits to over 250 individuals and expended over $350,000.
“Over recent months the demand for financial support has exceeded $30,000 per month and has become overwhelming. It is now exceeding our club’s ability to continue without assistance,” Mr McNulty said. “As a result we have sought other means to continue to provide this much needed support in our community.”
In February 2013, a partnership was formed between the Newtown Rotary Club, the Office of Victim Services, and the United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) to provide an Immediate Needs Fund for financial assistance for mental health care and other needs of the impacted families in the Newtown community.
In October the Newtown Memorial Fund also joined this partnership.
“During the 13 months of existence this fund provided over $660,000 to more than 150 families,” said Kim Morgan, CEO of UWWC.
Bob Schmidt, chairman of SHEF for the Newtown Lions Club, said that because these other organizations’ objectives were similar to the Newtown Lions Club Foundation, “we approached these organizations to see if the partnership could be enlarged to include the Newtown Lions Club Foundation.”
Mr McNulty said that by these groups joining forces, “we bring all the organizations’ strengths together to provide financial support in the most efficient way. The Immediate Needs Fund will continue to provide help to over 400 individuals that require assistance.”
Because the partnership is entirely financed through private donations, the Newtown Lions Club Foundation’s SHEF will continue with fundraising efforts, including a golf tournament called “FORE Sandy Hook,” currently planned for June 30.
“We will also continue other fundraising efforts including submissions of grant applications to private philanthropic organizations,” Mr McNulty said.
As of February 28, the state Office of Victim Services (OVS) in Hartford became the point of contact for all eligible individuals (860-990-1984 or toll free 888-286-7347). New claims from providers and individuals should be routed to OVS for processing.
While the UWWC no longer provides financial assistance to the Immediate Needs Fund, it has agreed to continue providing no cost administrative services related to disbursement of partnership funds. For more information visit the Newtown Lions Club/SHEF page.