Sandy Hook Victim's Daughter Criticizes United Way of Western CT

A Facebook post from the daughter of a Dec. 14 Sandy Hook School shooting victim prompted the organization to clarify its donation-handling process.


When Cristina Lafferty-Hassinger -- daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died in December's shooting -- took to Facebook Monday to chide the United Way, it prompted a response from the charitable organization.

"The United Way gallantly stepped up to help manage the influx of donations, but who are they really helping?" she wrote in the Facebook post. "[M]ore than two months later the victims' families are being asked for proof of hardship before even the smallest disimbursement is issued. Proof of hardship?"

Shortly after the Dec. 14 shooting that claimed the life of 20 students and six educators, The United Way of Western Connecticut teamed with Newtown Savings Bank to organize the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

After the Facebook post, CEO Kim Morgan issued a statement clarifying the difference between the Sandy Hook School Support Fund and a separate United Way fund formed with the Newtown Rotary Club and the State Office of Victim Services, which a spokesman said likely led to the confusion.

Morgan described the second fund as an "immediate needs" fund "intended for people directly affected by the shooting including families who lost loved ones, families who have children in the school, Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers and staff, and first responders who were called to the school the day of the shooting."

"A simple screening process has been established to provide funds to those facing financial hardship or mental health needs," said Morgan in the statement. "Those seeking for financial assistance should be prepared to show official documentation of missed work or a decrease in income, and provide copies of bills that need to be paid."

The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has raised nearly $10 million to date. On Feb. 22, the fund formed the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation to make decisions on how to distribute the money. The foundation includes several Newtown residents and other area business and community leaders.

Oxford Resident February 28, 2013 at 04:10 PM
$10 million divided by 26. Why do we need commissions and red tape for this?
Lori Flick February 28, 2013 at 05:23 PM
There are other victims. All those in the building that day are victims and they deserve assistance as well. These other families did not return to life as normal either, it cost them work days with loss of income and very possibly medical or mental health services costs. All too often there are crisis funds set up (the 911 comes to mind) and then there are disagreements or lawsuits about how the funds were disbursed. I believe the plan here is to be very certain that the funds are disbursed properly, based on a conversation I had with someone involved with it.
Ed Smith February 28, 2013 at 08:24 PM
I have read that the CEO of United Way got over $800,000 in compensation last year. Not the first year I've read about outrageously high pay for executives of charities. That is why I stopped giving money to United Way. It seems corrupt and contradictory to the supposed mission of a charity when it is supported by working people who make about 5% of the charity director's pay.
Ok sounds February 28, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Insurance fraud maybe?


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