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Surpassing Doughnuts and Dimes: Funding Wellness for First Responders

Updated: 15 hours ago

During my nearly two-year tenure in the wellness unit at Lexipol, I consistently encountered command staff who claimed there was insufficient funding for wellness initiatives in their budgets. This challenge transcended agency type and geographical location across the eight states I oversaw.

In my view, we must adopt a creative approach to budgeting when discussing funding for public safety wellness programs. The ultimate goal is to establish programs that operate independently of government influence and receive support from businesses.

In Episode 3 of the 6th Pillar Podcast, Chief Elloitt Moya talks about thinking creatively when he mentions how his department partnered with a local school that gave them 24/7 access to their gym until they could make space at the precinct and purchase equipment.

By taking a collective and expansive approach, we can more effectively and swiftly secure the necessary resources, ensuring the health and well-being of our dedicated first responders. Creating partnerships with non-profit organizations is an excellent strategy for funding public safety wellness programs. Here are some steps you can take to effectively collaborate with non-profits:

Identify Relevant Non-Profits:

Engage with Existing Foundations:

  • Reach out to foundations set up by former or current first responders. Many of these foundations are passionate about giving back to their community and supporting their colleagues.

  • Explain your department’s wellness needs and explore how their foundation can contribute. They may be willing to distribute funds or resources specifically for wellness programs.

Educate Local Businesses and Individuals:

  • Connect with local businesses and individuals who want to support first responders. Explain the importance of wellness programs and how they directly help the community.

  • Encourage them to contribute to the non-profit organization you’re partnering with. Emphasize that their donations will be used to enhance first responders’ mental and physical health.

Tax Benefits and Transparency:

  • Highlight the tax benefits for businesses and individuals who donate to a registered 501©(3) nonprofit. It’s a win-win situation: they get a tax write-off, and you receive much-needed funding.

  • Assure donors that their contributions will be transparently managed by the non-profit. They’ll know exactly how their money is being used to support wellness initiatives.

Remember, by collaborating with non-profits, local businesses, and the community, you can create a sustainable funding model for your department’s wellness programs. Together, we can prioritize the health and resilience of our first responders!

Karen Hurley is a dedicated spiritual coach and peer supporter with a focus on serving first responders and leaders. With over two decades of experience, she is deeply invested in the well-being of first responders and leaders through her commitment to developing wellness programs for public safety organizations. Karen’s expertise was sharpened during her tenure in the wellness unit of a prominent public safety company, where she worked with hundreds of agencies to enhance the well-being of personnel and departments.

Her work with the Phoenix Fire Department’s Crisis Response team is a testament to her hands-on approach, offering solace and strength to those facing the aftermath of crisis. As an ordained minister with the Universal Brotherhood Movement, Karen brings a spiritual dimension to her work, offering guidance and support to those she serves.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Karen takes pride in her role as a mentor with the Big Brother Big Sister organization, making a difference in the life of a young girl. She is also the proud owner of PIF Samaritan Services in Scottsdale, AZ, where she continues her mission of service and support to the first responder community.

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Embark on a transformative journey with The 6th Pillar Podcast, where Chief Neil Gang delves into crucial discussions on resilience, leadership, and wellness. Join us as we unveil the inaugural episode, sharing our mission to empower and inspire through meaningful conversations


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