Individuals with long and strong ties to the community are among the overseers of the newly launched foundation that will be charged with distributing more than $9 million amassed from donations being made to a United Way/Newtown Savings Bank fund since 12/14.
Selectman Will Rodgers told The Bee February 20, that Monsignor Robert Weiss of St Rose of Lima parish, former Newtown Finance Director Ben Spragg, and Joe DeCandido, the former longtime finance committee chair of the Legislative Council will head up the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation Inc.
They are joined by Danbury Hospital’s chair of psychiatry and Sandy Hook resident Dr Charles R. Herrick and Newtown attorney Anne Ragusa. Mr Rodgers led a transition team that helped establish the foundation, its administrative framework and bylaws.
Mr Rodgers said the newly seated panel will begin reviewing requests for distributions from the fund, which will continue to receive donations. Retired US Senator Joe Lieberman is serving as the spokesman for the effort.
According to Mr Rodgers, the former lawmaker met with a number of victims’ family members earlier this week to review the mechanics of how the fund will operate. He said the panel is required to utilize volunteer distribution committees and a public input process to make distribution recommendations.
“The lead panel will only verify the charitable legitimacy of the recommendations,” Mr Rodgers. “They are not permitted to substitute judgment or second guess the distribution committee recommendations.”
He said the group will immediately create an ad-hoc distribution committee, although Mr Rodgers said there is no set timeframe or deadline for the foundation to begin allocating funds.
“I also want to recognize the law firm of Bercham, Moses & Devlin of Milford for all their pro bono assistance with state filings and other preparatory work setting up the foundation,” Mr Rodgers said. “Former school board member and attorney Andy Buzzi also put in a tremendous amount of work toward this effort as a member of the fund’s transition team,” he added.
Other members of the now deactivated transition team were Elizabeth Goehring of the United Way; David Grogins, who is the town counsel; Debbie Leidlein, the chairman of the school board; Kim Morgan, the CEO of the United Way; John Trentacosta, the president and CEO of Newtown Savings Bank; and Andrew Zeitlin, a United Way trustee and an attorney.