The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 6, 2012

Focus more on survivors of Oklahoma City bombing, less on the funding principal

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — “We will never forget.”

That simple statement resonated after the Oklahoma City bombing sent shockwaves throughout the state, nation and world in 1995.

Yellow ribbons, symbolizing sympathy for the victims, have faded. Now we’re concerned about survivors claiming a foundation in charge of millions of donated funds denied requests to pay for surgery, tuition and other needs, according to a Tulsa World investigation.

More than $40 million poured in to local and national charities following the terrorist attack, with $14.6 million consolidated under the control of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, according to The Associated Press.

The foundation, which provides oversight, now controls $10 million of the funds. Some survivors reportedly have alleged rude treatment by foundation staff.

Check out some of the comments from Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation:

• “There’s a culture of victimhood, made up of people whose identity as Victim of the Oklahoma City Bombing gave them importance and visibility they’d never had before,” Anthony told The New York Times in 2001.

• “The perception of people, unfortunately, is that you need to give people money and that money will make them feel better,” Anthony told the Chicago Tribune in 2005. “Well, it probably does make them feel better. But heroin makes them feel better for a short time, too.”

Harsh words. However, survivors don’t have any “happily-ever-after stories” and are often coping with the anger process, Anthony told the Tulsa World.

Survivors who feel they were improperly denied payment can write a letter appealing those decisions to the fund’s board of trustees, she said.

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, now president of the American Bankers Association, raised the good point that the foundation’s focus should be on helping people rather than preserving the fund principal.

“I think it’s entirely appropriate to have these questions asked and answered,” Keating told the Tulsa World.

That’s the right thing to do.

The newspaper did a follow-up story about a group of survivors coordinating an effort to review bombing fund distributions. We’re curious how this story will pan out.