ORLANDO, Fla.—So far, more than $5.9 million has been raised by a GoFundMe account for the Pulse Nightclub survivors and victims' families – and that number keeps rising.
BlackFinn restaurant at the St. Johns Town Center is donating 10 percent of its proceeds to that GoFundMe account at a fundraiser Wednesday night.
Equality Florida started the GoFundMe and has now partnered up with another organization to make sure everyone gets the funding they need.
"We have families from all over the world coming. Whether it be, heaven forbid, to a funeral or to join their loved one in the hospital,” says Ida Eskamani with Florida Equality. “Many of these folks just have the clothes on their back. They have no idea how long they're staying and they require a lot of support."
She says the State of Florida has a victim assistance program that allocates $7,500 per funeral arrangement. There's also funding from the in-kind network, where numerous businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations providing in-kind services. But, there are some cases where neither of those will cover all the costs. That's where Equality Florida's Pulse Victim Fund will support those families.
"We currently already have a system in place, for those short term emergency funds needed from our victims' families and survivors. Regarding those larger long term costs, again we hope to get those out as fast as we can," says Eskamani.
Because of the large amount of money, Florida Equality has partnered up with The National Center for Victims of Crime. They have dispersed funds to victims in Aurora and Columbine before doing the same in Orlando.
"It's a non-profit organization. They've been advocating for victims for 30 years now. They have a project called the National Compassion Fund. Essentially, this was set up because in far too many cases, in these mass casualty events, the money gets lost in administrative costs through non-profits,” Eskamani says. “This fund is set up to disperse funds directly to the victims' families and survivors.”
She hopes to have most of the money dispersed in eight weeks.