One Fund receives $12m more in donations
One Fund Boston, which initially collected $61 million for the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks, has grown by an additional $12 million, as donors from around the world continue to donate. Now, the outpouring of generosity has the organization considering new ways to disburse the funds.
The nonprofit group, which was formed days after the April 15 attacks, which killed three people and injured more than 260, has tapped a council made up of survivors and victims’ relatives to help it decide how to distribute the latest donations, including whether to give money to those traumatized by the horror they witnessed that day, even if they were not physically harmed.
The goal is “still helping those most affected,” said Mike Sheehan, One Fund treasurer. “But the definition of that, with more education, might change a bit.”
The new donations came from an array of sources — from corporate fund-raisers to children who dropped coins into envelopes. There were donations from second-graders who gave up their First Communion money and couples who eschewed wedding presents and instead told their guests to donate to the fund.
Sheehan said he was especially moved by a person who donated $7.
“I am hypothesizing, but that’s someone who wanted to give 10 but could only afford 5,” Sheehan said. “Somebody sacrificed to help someone they don’t know.”
During its first 90 days, One Fund Boston collected nearly $61 million, and by July 29 it had distributed all of the money to more than 230 people hurt and relatives of those killed. Some of them were double amputees or victims whose limbs were severed. Others were severely burned, suffered shattered bones and nerves, or lost their hearing or vision in one eye.
But the organization was criticized for whom it rejected and how much it disbursed to individual victims.
Double amputees each received $2.2 million, and those who stayed overnight in a hospital were eligible for $125,000 or more if they stayed multiple nights.
But other victims felt shortchanged, like a 43-year-old doctor who said he had to start seeing fewer patients after he lost his hearing during the blast.
Others who were not physically injured said they were so traumatized that they needed psychological help.
Sheehan said the One Fund has not made any decisions about how the next round of funds will be distributed.
“There is going to be a new process, and we haven’t decided whether it gets expanded or focused even more,” said Sheehan, who is also chief executive of the Boston advertising firm Hill Holliday.
The plan is to give out the $12 million in early July, but the organization expects to receive even more donations around the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. Sheehan said that unlike last time, the group may keep some of the money in reserve to help victims with any future costs they incur as a result of their injuries.
“We just want to make sure that we’re really, really thoughtful and thorough about it,” he said. “It’s not going to be perfect, but we have an obligation to help those who need it most.”
The council has met twice, once in October at City Hall and again on Dec. 20 at Hill Holliday’s offices on State Street.
Members of the One Fund’s board of directors want the council to help them figure out what future problems victims may face, such as dealing with the cost of replacing a prosthetic limb, deciding which medical services will help them the most, and meeting any needs that were not met during the first round of giving.
One of the council members is the brother-in-law of Bill Richard, the father of Martin Richard, an 8-year-old Dorchester boy who was killed in the attacks. Martin’s 7-year-old sister lost one of her legs. His mother lost vision in one eye, and Bill Richard lost much of his hearing.
Larry Marchese, a family friend and spokesman, said the Richards believe that witnesses and emergency officials who responded that day should get some kind of support.
“There is that next level of victims,” Marchese said. “They’re having a really hard time dealing with what they saw and experienced that day. I think that’s something the One Fund should have on its radar.”
Survivors of the attacks got e-mails about the new funds Thursday.
“It’s great and wonderful that people are still donating money,” said James “Bim” Costello, a 31-year-old from Malden whose arm and leg were burned so badly he needed pigskin grafts. “We never thought we’d get the money we did get, never mind getting more.”
Jarrod Clowery, 36, a carpenter who was burned and hit by shrapnel, said he was moved by the generosity of the donors, but ambivalent about whether he should make a claim for more money.
“I truly don’t care if I receive another penny from the One Fund,” he said. “What they did the first go-around was fair.”
But he said those who lost limbs, including two of his friends, could need support for the rest of their lives.
“If someone is going to get money, I would say all the amputees should get the lion’s share,” Clowery said. “As far as money goes, what they gave me was unbelievable. But money doesn’t help with your life getting flipped upside down."