Former Club Q employees say owner is shortchanging them on GoFundMe money
The Denver Post February 28, 2023
DENVER (Tribune News Service) — Ashtin Gamblin barely leaves the house these days.
The former door girl at Club Q in Colorado Springs spends as much time in various medical appointments as she does doing anything else — the result of nine gunshot wounds suffered in November when a shooter opened fire inside the beloved nightclub, killing five people and injuring 22 others.
But three months after the horrific tragedy, Gamblin and other former Club Q staffers say they’re being newly victimized by the business’s owner, who they allege is refusing to disperse tens of thousands of dollars raised in the shooting’s aftermath.
“This man is putting us through so much unnecessary hell,” Gamblin said.
She and a host of other nightclub workers released a public letter last week, saying owner Matthew Haynes is using much of the money raised through a GoFundMe campaign to reopen Club Q, rather than support suffering former employees. The staffers are calling for the owner to release 75% of the more than $55,000 raised so far, which they would divvy up through a matrix they created.
“The words I keep using are disappointed and hurt,” said Tiara Kelley, a former show producer at Club Q. “We have been and are a family. Matthew to many of us is a stranger — and this stranger is telling us we’re not worth anything.”
Haynes did distribute money this month to employees and contractors based on a formula he created, taking into account an individual’s “historic average of net monthly earnings” and multiplying it by three. He has not said how much money he paid out to former employees.
Kelley said she received $720. Gamblin got $981.
“He’s legitimately trying to make employees look bad and that we’re money hungry and it’s not fair to us,” Gamblin said. “I was shot nine times and now I’m trying to defend myself against my owner.”
Haynes told The Post that he believes victims “deserve as much money as possible,” but that he’s been clear from the beginning about the GoFundMe’s purpose. He plans to reopen the club this fall.
“People have donated for a specific reason to a fund,” he said. “Releasing 75% is dishonoring those folks who have donated for a particular reason.”
The fund’s donation page says: “This fund is managed by Club Q directly and will be used to ensure the Club Q staff and entertainers don’t suffer financial hardship due to this horrific act. This fund will also go towards the total remodel of Club Q, the construction of an appropriate memorial for our victims and a small museum onsite.”
Staffers also alleged that they were never even told they were now “former employees.” They learned that through a Club Q Facebook post earlier this month.
Haynes disputed that, saying he had two sets of meetings where he talked about how workers could get unemployment.
“Everyone was clear on their status,” he said.
Haynes is now operating Club Q alone. His former co-owner Nic Grzecka wrote on Facebook this month that he has rescinded his shares in the nightclub, hopping in a 2008 shuttle bus and hitting the road.
“To start a new journey and heal,” Grzecka wrote. “In order for me to heal and fully experience this journey, I must leave everything behind.”
Grzecka — who did not respond to messages — started his own GoFundMe to help pay for his journey, asking for $35,000. He’s raised $325.
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