Our survivors need $300m, not $3m!

At the time of this blog writing, the OneOrlando Fund has reported “at least 3.6 million dollars” and the Equality Florida Fund exactly $6,868,544.00 via their GoFundMe public tracking, producing a total of less than $12 million to address a network of survivors with needs estimated at closer to $380 million. Yet when I post about or visit individual fundraising campaigns for victim families or survivors, I too often see comments from visitors shaming these campaigns for daring to ask for money individually when there are “huge amounts of benefits  available through legitimate funds.”

It is vital to understand, first of all, that there is still just not enough to go around. Secondly, these large funds, while fulfilling their functions admirably (and I mean no disrespect whatsoever to these spectacular efforts; in fact I am very proud of my city and my community for whipping together such complex and effective responses to the tragedy so quickly!), are not designed to meet all victim needs. In fact, it was only days ago as of this writing that the OneOrlando Fund agreed to distribute collected money directly to victims rather than further delaying and potentially diluting benefits by funneling them through additional agencies.

There are many ways to help people. Contributing to large, long-term funds for the Orlando community is one excellent way and #AdoptOrlando does not in any way discourage contribution efforts to the OneOrlando or Equality Florida Funds. However, please consider that supporting the direct donation process through signal boosting or donating directly to survivors, victims’ families, and affected businesses and community organizations is equally effective and equally as vital to the health of our community. Visit our Mission Page to get inspiration on how you can help!

The following is excerpted from an excellent article produced by Abe Aboraya at WMFE on June 24th, 2016 regarding the actual costs facing the individuals in the Pulse survivor network that helps contextualize the continued need for direct donation to support organizational fundraising efforts.

A pie chart representing estimated costs in the wake of the Orlando Mass Shooting based on 103 cases by T.R. Miller, PhD, Pacific Institute for Research: Quality of Life 72% $275,828,000, Work 27% $105,134,000, Medical 1% $4,097,000, Police 0% $177,000 / Total $385,794,000

So just how much will the Pulse night club shooting cost all of the victims? It’s a difficult, if not impossible question to answer right now…Embry Howell is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a liberal think tank in Washington. She studied the average cost of a gunshot victim in 2010. Using that benchmark, she estimated the hospital costs from the Pulse shooting would be about $1 million dollars.“And I would imagine that would be an underestimate,” Howell said…“Since they’re young, primarily latino and living in Florida where you haven’t taken the Medicaid expansion, my guess would be you have a high rate of uninsured,” Howell said.

Ted Miller is Ph.D. researcher with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, an independent nonprofit research firm who has been studying the cost of firearm injuries for more than two decades. He used the 2011 shooting of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 18 others in Arizona to make what he calls a conservative estimate.

His estimate: $4 to $7 million dollars in medical costs and mental health costs for victims and survivors of people who died. That’s the lifetime medical costs for the survivors, the costs of surgery, the cost of rehab. But it doesn’t count the long-term costs for those who are severely injured…Miller also did a broader estimate beyond just the medical costs. That includes the cost of the police response, the cost to employers – and, as icky as it may sound, the dollar value of those 49 lost lives.

“I estimate that the total cost of the Orlando shooting is around $385 to $390 million,” Miller said…

Orlando Regional got 44 of the shooting victims. It’s not clear exactly how many of the patients have insurance, but a hospital spokeswoman said some patients have coverage, some don’t. The hospital is going to look for payment sources from the community or the state such as victim funds that are raising money across the country. 

Read (or listen) to more on the WMFE site here

It’s pretty noteworthy that even Orlando Regional’s spokespeople are cited as stating that “victim funds that are raising money across the country” are necessary to meet even just the medical bills of survivors and victims… there is not enough to cover the existing medical bills alone, much less the continuing medical and mental health needs or basic living expenses of our devastated community.

Direct donation to survivor funds is a powerful and effective way to support our victims.

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