On Saturday, August 3, 2019, El Paso met an unwelcome visitor who brought both hate and violence to our community, killing 22, physically injuring 26, and traumatizing thousands more. Our beautiful, resilient community responded immediately and with overwhelming generosity, demonstrative of our community values: caring, compassionate and giving. As CEO of the Paso del Norte Community Foundation and fellow-El Pasoan, I have had the opportunity to witness these qualities first hand. Within hours of the tragedy, we established the El Paso Victims Relief Fund in the Paso del Norte Community Foundation. We have received $2.8 million in donations to date from donors larger and small, locally and from across the country, bringing total contributions to multiple funds in the community to over $5.8 million.
We have received contributions from bake sales, corporate and foundation contributions, matching funds, telethons, concerts, car shows, portion of sales, lemonade stands, tattoo art, art shows, t-shirt sales, on-line gifts and coins that have been contributed from over 4,000 donors. These are the people and stories that make our city great. We step up, not because we are asked, but because we are family.
It’s important for all of us at the Paso del Norte Community Foundation to let everyone know that 100 percent of every dollar donated to the El Paso Victims Relief Fund will go to victims and their families, with no administrative fees or credit card charges.
To help us ensure the utmost transparency in the distribution of funds to victims and their families, the Paso del Norte Community Foundation is partnering with the City of El Paso and El Paso Community Foundation under the new “One Fund El Paso” to oversee this process. Together, we have enlisted three important resources: Stephanie Karr, a trusted former executive director of a local nonprofit, an oversight task force of local leaders, and the National Compassion Fund.
Stephanie Karr will lead the newly created One Fund El Paso. One Fund will ensure that all donations are distributed properly. Under Stephanie’s guidance, One Fund will also help communicate that process to the public. A task force of local leaders with expertise in supporting victims and families will provide advice and guidance on the distribution process. The National Compassion Fund (NCF), a subsidiary of the nonprofit National Center for Victims of Crime, the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them, will help guide the process for support of victims and families in our community. NCF has led distributions to victims of mass casualty events at Fort Hood, Texas, Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, among others. You can learn more about these entities and the proposed process at www.nationalcompassionfund.org. In the interim, $5,000 has been distributed/approved for distribution to help victims and families with immediate expenses.
Our mission at the Paso del Norte Community Foundation is to support the philanthropic goals of individuals, families, corporations, foundations and nonprofit organizations to improve health, education, social services, economic development and quality of life in our region. While we are never fully prepared for an unforgiveable act of violence, we are grateful to use our platform to support victims and their families. Thank you to everyone in our community for the outpouring of support and trust you have placed in us working with multiple partners. We are also enormously grateful to our first responders, mental and physical health care providers, educational institutions, social service organizations, and more. Together, we remain caring, compassionate and giving for victims and their families, and for each other. All the things that make us #ElPasoStrong.
- Tracy J. Yellen, CEO, Paso del Norte Community Foundation and Paso del Norte Health Foundation