WHIO Special Presentation - Meeting The Challenge: Dayton Stays Strong

Since the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak, #DaytonStrong has been a constant through a difficult year unlike any other, including the Oregon District mass shooting, coronavirus pandemic and demand for change after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody.

WHIO-TV Special Projects Executive Producer and Photojournalist Matthew Simon spent the past year producing a special documentary-style presentation, examining the community’s drive to stay #DaytonStrong.

Interviews in the WHIO-TV special presentation include Memorial Day tornado and Oregon District shooting survivor Dion Green, who used the grief of losing his father during the shooting into writing a book.

The special also included Dayton teacher Tom Alig’s perspective. Alig’s son and nieces survived the shooting, while he had to help guide his students through community difficulties, and teaching from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dayton production company owner Libby Ballengee, Butler Township media company manager Cathy Bratton, Miami Valley Hospital Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colón, Kettering bar manager Sabrina Cox, Riverside day care owner Elisha Osama, and Oakwood photographer Whitney Saleski also offered their perspectives.

Following the Memorial Day tornadoes, Oregon District mass shooting, and COVID-19 outbreak, The Dayton Foundation’s response funds have generated more than $6 million to help the community.

“In the days and months that followed both the Memorial Day tornadoes, the Oregon District mass shooting and the outbreak of COVID-19 our community responded with compassion and a genuine desire to help. And The Dayton Foundation discovered its true resiliency and capacity to fulfill our mission – to help you help others,” foundation public relations officer Soteria Brown said in a statement.

Brown released the following information about each relief fund:

Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund: The morning after the Memorial Day tornadoes struck, The Dayton Foundation’s staff huddled together and established the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund to accept charitable donations from individuals, families and organizations who wanted to help their neighbors here at home. Over the following months, the Foundation processed thousands of gifts to the fund and partnered on dozens and dozens of fundraising events. As a result of the outpouring of support from our region and beyond, resources from this fund are assisting Greater Dayton nonprofits in the relief efforts. To date, more than $2.7M has been contributed to the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund and more than $1.2M has been granted to nonprofits that are on the ground assisting with recovery. However, the recovery work continued thanks to the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group. The Dayton Foundation serves the group as the Fiscal Sponsor.

Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund: Just as the Foundation was beginning to wrap its arms around tornado recovery, another tragedy struck Dayton in the early hours of Sunday, August 4. Once again the Foundation’s staff huddled to determine the best way to respond – and at the request of Dayton’s City Manager and with guidance from community foundations around the nation (that have unfortunately experienced tragic shootings in their cities) and Council on Foundations in Washington D.C. the Foundation established the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund (DODTF). Gifts from Dayton, across Ohio and around the world began to flow into the fund. By late November, nearly $4 million was distributed to the families whose loved ones were taken in the Oregon District shooting and to individuals who suffered serious physical injuries.

Since the initial distribution, the TDF Fund has received additional donations of $136,129. This amount, plus any additional funds, will be distributed in the fall of 2020 for a final distribution from the LLC to the approved applicants.

COVID-19 Response Fund for Greater Dayton: In response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Dayton Foundation and the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area, along with a coalition of philanthropic, government and other individual partners, joined together to establish the COVID-19 Response Fund for Greater Dayton. The fund provides a safe and secure place where individuals, businesses, foundations and organizations can make charitable contributions to a fund that is providing flexible resources to nonprofits that are at the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. To date, more than $1.8M has been contributed to the fund and over $1.1M has been granted to nonprofit organizations helping our most vulnerable populations/or impacted by the outbreak.

Individuals or businesses that would still like to contribute to either of these funds may find more information and links to each fund on the Foundation’s Lend a Helping Hand page: https://www.daytonfoundation.org/helpinghand.html

Matthew Simon

Matthew Simon

I'm proud to lead the I-Team, News Center 7's investigative and special reports unit. During my 20 yrs in the business, I've always admired WHIO-TV as the best in the business. I couldn't resist the opportunity when WHIO-TV recruited me to join their team as Special Projects Executive Producer. Watch my in-depth I-team reports on News Center 7.