The Norman Transcript

State/Region

November 12, 2012

Bombing fund officials say critics are mistaken

OKLAHOMA CITY — Officials of a foundation holding about $10 million in funds remaining from donations to survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing say they believe dividing the money among survivors, as some critics of the foundation have called for, would be a mistake.

“No. 1, I do not think it would be legal. No. 2, I do not think it would be in the best interest of the people,” said Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, a nonprofit umbrella organization that oversees the Disaster Relief Fund, commonly known as the bombing fund, and other nonprofit funds.

Anthony, foundation trustee Steve Mason and bombing fund trustee John Belt met Friday with The Oklahoman and Tulsa World to discuss the bombing fund and misconceptions they believe have arisen.

“We believe we have funded 100 percent of the eligible expenses for people under the rules that were put in place in 1995,” said Steve Mason, foundation trustee.

For the past 17 years, the fund has provided assistance for medical expenses, mental health counseling, living expenses and scholarships for survivors and family members of the 168 people killed or hundreds injured in the April 19, 1995, bombing.

Much of the more than $40 million in donations flooded into various Oklahoma organizations after the blast, but about $14.6 million eventually was consolidated into the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to provide for the long-term needs of bombing survivors.

The foundation since has distributed about $11.1 million to benefit 962 people, but still has about $10 million because of interest earned on investments.

Deloris Watson, whose grandson, P.J. Allen, was the youngest survivor of the day care, believes it is time to divide up the money and dissolve the bombing fund. She said the foundation has provided her family with a lot of financial assistance through the fund, but she believes the survivors themselves are in better position to determine how money should be spent.

Mason said dividing the remaining donations among survivors is not what donors intended.

“The donor intent in 1995 was, ‘Take care of these people. Take care of their need,’ versus taking it and dividing it according to need,” Mason said.

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