LEWISTON – Maine Community Foundation announced today that it has raised $1.8 million to date in response to the worst mass shooting in Maine’s history. At a press conference, the foundation said that more than $1.3 million of the $1.8 million total has been raised and designated by donors specifically to the Victims & Families portion of the fund, which will be directed by a local steering committee in the weeks and months ahead.
“MaineCF already works with donors at all levels to collect, direct, and disperse the funds provided by so many generous people from all around the world,” said MaineCF President and CEO Deborah Ellwood. “This is something we can do to help – we are sad that it is needed, but we are glad to serve as an organization that can play a part in the continuum of care that will help Lewiston rise and thrive, following this traumatic time.”
The Lewiston-Auburn Area Response Fund was created within 36 hours of the October 25 mass shootings that claimed the lives of 18 people, injured 13 more, and traumatized the Lewiston-Auburn community.
Tom Platz, principal and CEO of Platz Associates, was announced as the Chair of the Victims & Families Fund’s steering committee. “As many of you know, Lewiston is a special place, and we have gathered a special group of community leaders and connected people in the networks impacted,” said Platz. “I am pleased to share that we will hold our first meeting this afternoon, and already, there is so much resolve and drive to help – it is a poignant honor to work with this group to help bring Lewiston back from this terrible mark on our history.”
The steering committee is comprised of the following volunteers:
- Tom Platz (chair), Platz Associates
- Deborah Anthoine, St. Mary’s Health System
- Kevin Bohlin, Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Marc Frenette, Trafton, Matzen, Belleau & Frenette, LLP
- Meg Greene, Brann & Isaacson
- Laura Lee, Maine Community Foundation
- Neil Kiely, Androscoggin Bank
- Steven Littleson, Central Maine Healthcare
- John Ochira, Maine Community Foundation
- Catherine Ryder, Tri-County Mental Health Services
- Joe Samaha, father of victim in Virginia Tech shooting
- Sitara Sheikh, Maine Association for the Deaf
- Cara Cookson, Special Liaison to the Office of the Attorney General
Jeff Dion is a nationally recognized fund administrator for victims of mass casualty events, is also working with MaineCF and the steering committee to ensure proper management of the fund.
“Sadly, there are now best practices for tragic events like the one in Lewiston,” said Dion. “The experiences of other communities have shown that it is more important to get this right than do it quickly. It is critically important to build community consensus on the eligibility and distribution of these funds and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. With that said, we anticipate that, while final distributions will take a matter of months, we are planning to make advance payments available to the injured and the families of the deceased in the coming weeks.”
Eligibility for the funds will include the families of people killed, those injured, and individuals who were present at the time of the shootings in Lewiston who may have experienced trauma.
Further information about MaineCF’s response to the Lewiston shootings is available at www.MaineCF.org/Lewiston.