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The grief and mourning continue for the 17 students and staff killed on the afternoon of Feb. 14 during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. But something else is happening among the anguish of the interrupted lives of the victims and survivors. Out of the agony, activism has emerged and students from across South Florida are speaking out together asking for stricter gun controls. Here's a list of grief counseling resources available for the community.

Where Will The Stoneman Douglas Victims' Funds Go?

MSD victims fund
Caitie Switalski
/
WLRN
The crowd at the 12:30 town hall may have been a small one, but people asking questions were most concerned about how psychological trauma would be evaluated for benefits.

Ever since the Parkland school shooting in February, celebrities, residents and organizations have been donating money to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Victims’ Fund. 

That money is set to be divvied up among victims’ families, but people got the chance to speak their minds about how to split it up at the first of two town halls in Davie on Tuesday afternoon.

There is a second town hall for public comment on the victims’ fund taking place  Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Rick Case Arena on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie. 

 

The victims’ fund was created just after the shooting by several businesses and foundations. It has raised more than $7.5 million so far, most of which is on GoFundMe.com. However, it will remain open for donations through June 30. 

The nonprofit Broward Education Fund approved a steering committee to draft rules for how that money gets distributed. The actual disbursement of funds will be overseen by the National Compassion Fund and a local class-action group, Angeion. 

Jeff Dion directs the National Compassion Fund and explained, “There are three primary groups of eligible individuals. The first are the families of those who were killed.”

The next highest amount of money is slated to go to victims who were hospitalized overnight. And some funds will also go to victims suffering from PTSD and other psychological trauma.

“For folks who were on campus but not in building 1200 {where the shooting took place], if someone experienced psychological trauma as a result of this event and sought mental health treatment for that trauma by April 30, then they’ll be eligible for benefits,” Dion said.

Tony Montalto was also at the town hall. His daughter Gina was one of those killed. He worries there wasn't enough public notice prior to the meeting. 

“I think it would have really helped and it would have been nice had somebody remembered the victim’s families,” he said. “And we understand that the survivors need help also, but what happened to us is permanent.”

Meanwhile, Robert Neilson was focused on what could be done for his daughter, who is so scared to go to school at Douglas that she hasn’t been back since the shooting. 

“I’m a little upset that there’s nobody from the school board here,” Neilson said. “Nobody from the school has picked up the phone. I’m just so frustrated…and I don’t know what to tell her.”

Members of the steering committee promised Neilson they would follow up with Douglas on his daughter’s behalf.

The office of Florida’s attorney general is set to compensate victims’ families for funerals as well as medical bills for people who were injured. 

The MSD victims’ fund, which is made up of charitable donations that are being dispersed this summer, will be awarded without medical bills or personal costs factoring into how much someone can receive.  

Once the final set of criteria for money distribution is finalized, anyone who wants to apply for benefits will be able to do so online May 1 through May 30.  

If someone applying for benefits is under the age of 18, a parent is going to have to apply on their behalf.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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