“This year’s Tribute to Heroes will be different,” says 100 Club of Arizona executive director Sharon Knutson-Felix, noting that in 2013 “we lost 22 officers and firefighters in the line of duty.” The Tribute is one of the organization’s two major fundraisers, supporting its efforts to “stand behind the men and women who stand behind the badge.” The event March 7th at the Orpheum Theatre will start with a social hour outside when guests can enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres prepared by 15 local chefs. Moving inside, the program will start with a flag ceremony honor service. National inspirational speaker Bob Welsh has prepared a special tribute for the occasion, and he will be followed by concert pianist William Joseph performing. Says Knutson-Felix. “People walk away feeling they want to express thanks to those who serve us; those who serve feel appreciated.”
Funds are used to provide a financial contribution to families of public safety employees who have suffered a tragedy. Knutson-Felix, who has personal experience of what this support — “being their first responders” — means to them, has worked to expand the program to cover employees in all areas of public safety throughout the state and respond not just to tragedy but help families suffering “anything life-altering.”
- The 100 Club of Arizona — formerly the 100 Club of Phoenix — was started in 1965, established as a nonprofit in 1968, and became statewide in 2002.
- It was patterned after the first 100 Club, which was founded in Detroit by a businessman who asked 100 of his friends to give $100 to a fund for the pregnant wife of a young officer who had been killed in the line of duty.
- A financial contribution is given to families at the time of the tragedy, which helps relieve some of the financial stress and also “shows someone cares,” says 100 Club of Arizona executive director Sharon Knutson-Felix, noting that other financial benefits that may apply all take time to become available.
- Other services the organization offers are classes that “provide assistance to the whole person,” says Knutson-Felix. Subjects include critical incidence stress management, suicide awareness, healthcare, and courses through the Financial Peace University.