BUFFALO, N.Y. — The National Compassion Fund has announced that nearly $6.5 million is being donated directly to families and survivors through the 5/14 Survivors Fund.
The fund's steering committee worked with trauma specialists, survivors of previous mass casualty events, health experts, legal experts and other community leaders to set policies governing the eligibility and distribution of the funds. After months of listening to community feedback and reviewing applications, it approved a plan that will distribute $6,452,355 to 169 applicants.
“Our community experienced significant loss and trauma on May 14, but as the City of Good Neighbors — together with people from around the country and around the globe — we came together with incredible acts of generosity and compassion,” said Co-Chair Rev. Mark Blue.
Recipients include those who were traumatized or injured in the May 14 mass shooting at the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo and family members of those killed during the attack.
“We have simply been stewards of these funds committed to honoring the intent of more than 13,000 gracious donors to help those directly impacted by this tragedy,” added Co-Chair Paul Vukelic. “Although these donations could never make the survivors whole, we are hopeful these donations provide the recipients with some comfort knowing that there are many people who wanted to give something to help them in whatever way possible.”
Mark Talley, whose mother Geraldine Talley was killed in the shooting, says the money is tainted due to why they're getting it.
"I feel like this money is kind of blood money, because it's coming at the heels of a death," Talley said. "It's coming at the ones who lost their life. None of us would have ever gotten this money if blood wasn't shed that day...although it's supposed to help, it comes at the expense of losing somebody you really care about."
Talley says although he feels this way, he still will accept the money from the fund.
"I have no idea how much it is yet," he said. "Whether it's $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 or $50, it really doesn't matter because this money came in from people who wanted to donate it to the survivors, to the victims, the ones who lost their family members. And it'll be incredibly, I feel, distasteful not to accept it from people worldwide wanting to help. It's just a, you know it's kind of a catch-22."
Talley says he's doing as well as he possibly can be after losing someone in such a horrific attack. He says he is putting all his anger in starting his own local nonprofit organization Agents for Advocacy, which aims to help and raise awareness to socio-injustices in the community.
"I graduated from Buffalo State with a socio — my economics degree and urban planning degree with primary focus in socioeconomics," he said. "But seeing your mom shot by a white supremacist, that kind of just changes your whole personality, and want to get you more involved in socio-justice issues, socio-advocacy, how could this have been prevented."
Talley says the next event organized by the nonprofit is a Fall Fest in partnership with Roswell Park. That will be on Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library. You can find other events here.