Community Foundations Step Forward in Wake of Tragic Mass Shootings

Dayton citizens hold a vigil for victims of the Aug. 5 shooting. (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Dayton citizens hold a vigil for victims of the Aug. 5 shooting. (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Time and again, we’ve seen community foundations take the lead to help when their communities experience tragedies from natural disasters to mass shootings. Their work begins immediately, and carries on long after the media leaves.

The Dayton Foundation in Dayton, Ohio has sadly had to step up twice in three months, raising $1 million to help tornado victims in May, and now shepherding the town’s outpouring of support in the wake of the tragic Aug. 5 shooting in its Oregon entertainment district that left 10 dead and 37 injured. 

As of Aug. 7, four of those victims remain hospitalized near Dayton. It was the second mass shooting that roiled the nation over the course of the weekend; a gunman in El Paso opened fire in a Wal-Mart the day prior, killing a total of 31 people across the two cities.

The foundation’s Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund will benefit families affected by the shooting. 

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families of this horrific event,” said Dayton Foundation MIke Parks in the foundation’s official statement. “Many people want to reach out and help our friends, families, neighbors in the aftermath of this incident. Individuals who contribute to the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund can be assured that their donations will be distributed safely and responsibly as we continue to work with local officials in the days ahead.”

Local businesses and restaurants in the Oregon District, still reeling from the tragedy, are donating some portion of their proceeds to the fund. One restaurant, the Salar Restaurant and Lounge, now features #DaytonStrong menu items, where 100 percent of the proceeds from those items will go toward the foundation’s fund.

The foundation is also partnering with the Dayton Daily News to get the word out about how people can help. 

Tragedy targeted Dayton twice in the last few months. In both instances, the Dayton Community Foundation was there to help with the healing.

In El Paso, the El Paso Community Foundation is leading a similar response in the wake of a Oct. 3 mass shooting that killed 22 people.

Many other community foundations are reaching out to provide advice, support, and funding to their colleagues in Dayton and El Paso.

Pittsburgh Foundation CEO Lisa Schroeder, for instance, has reached out to community foundation leaders in each city, and, based on the community’s experience with the Tree of Life attack last November, is offering any assistance deemed useful.

“Community foundations have missions and methods that are as varied as the regions we serve,” Schroeder said. “But when a major disaster strikes one area, the proud history in our sector is that we cross boundaries to assist in recovery. In the case of these mass shootings, we Pittsburghers have a special responsibility to act and assist in any way useful.”

 How to Help

Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund -- All credit card fees are paid by the Dayton Foundation.

El Paso Shooting Victims’ Fund -- All credit card fees are paid by the El Paso Community Foundation.

Amanda Palleschi