Help a Hero - Crowdfunding in the Face of Tragedy

Sean Carlin

February 3, 2023

The emergency responders who spend countless hours in firehouses, police stations, and ambulance squads across the country drop everything at a moment’s notice to serve the communities that they’ve taken an oath to protect. 

But when tragedy strikes one of their own and the community rallies to their side to provide financial relief, they’re too often steered toward crowdfunding sites that skim funds from those in need, treat those affected as mere products, and sell the data of the generous donors who come to help. 

That’s where NEP’s Help A Hero comes in. 

Unlike crowdfunding sites that profit off of tragedies, Help A Hero was made as a service to NEP’s 700-plus clients – a large majority of whom are the brave police officers and firefighters who keep our neighborhoods safe. Since Help A Hero is a service and not a revenue generator, NEP’s clients keep 100 percent of the funds raised for those who need it the most. Just last year, Help A Hero helped raise more than $870,000 for clients when their members need it the most. 

“We created Help A Hero with the intent of assisting our clients who need to provide immediate financial support for their members and their families in times of need,” said Mark Treglio, NEP’s vice president. “Our clients work in an industry where severe injuries and death come with the territory so being able to provide these heroes with an avenue to quickly respond and assist their families is critical. Since its inception, Help A Hero has continually grown and now is the go-to for emergency responders for fundraising needs, not just for critical incident fundraising.”

NEP knows time is of the essence when the worst happens to one of our emergency responders. The hours and days following those tragedies are often chaotic and challenging for the family, friends, and coworkers of those in need. NEP appreciates how critical this time is and is constantly monitoring the news for reports of emergency responders in need. NEP’s team proactively reaches out to clients and has the ability to launch a fundraiser and offer social media support to maximize the campaign’s reach. 

“Our clients represent the bedrock of our communities – the people willing to serve their neighbors and keep them safe every day,” said Stacey Yudin, president of NEP. “Help A Hero was made with our police officers and firefighters in mind, and we’re here to support our clients and the families of those affected immediately following a tragedy. By creating this support structure, we’re able to take an immense amount of pressure off of our clients, who are already trying to handle multiple issues at the same time.” 

For the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association, Help A Hero offered a streamlined approach to supporting their members in need. On April 20, 2022, Det. Brian Menton was shot in the line of duty just a week before his scheduled retirement. In the aftermath of the shooting as Menton was recovering, NEP set up a Help A Hero campaign for Menton, which was a change from the association’s previous way of raising funds for members in need.

“Our old model would have been to set up a fundraiser – a physical fundraiser,” said Keith Olson, president of Yonkers PBA. “This is just so much of an easier way, you can reach so many more people. It’s the 2023 way of doing this, and it’s way more effective.”

The campaign for Menton raised more than $81,000, which helped make changes at his home to accommodate for the injury. Olson said Menton is retired and doing well as he continues to navigate through his recovery. 

When retired Roseville, California, Fire Capt. Scott Milligan’s son, Chase, was involved in a horrific car crash in June 2021, Roseville Fire Fighters IAFF Local 1592 banded together to support his recovery. Soon after, Roseville launched a Help A Hero campaign for Chase, which raised more than $26,000 to support his recovery. 

“This is a really unfortunate event that happened with our local,” said Angel Mota, communications director for IAFF Local 1592. “God forbid something else happens in our local in the future, we know that we have this resource there. If tragedy were to strike us, (fundraising) is the one of the last things we want to have to worry about.”

If your organization is interested in learning more about Help A Hero, please contact NEP.