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Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke Clayton
April 16, 2024

OLDER SPORTSMEN HAVE MORE FUN

Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke ClaytonThere was a time back when I was in my twenties and thirties that I thought I would be hanging…
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April 13, 2024

Close-to-home fun

Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
As an outdoors writer for the past 39 years, I’ve become accustomed to “gallavanting” around the country fishing, hunting and collecting material for my articles. Lately though, I’ve been sticking pretty close to home. Kenneth Shephard with a good “eater…

The 100 Club supports families of fallen first responders

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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the 100 club logo“The club is in Houston, but it has a wider service area. It does unbelievable things for our first responders. Their reach is long and wide and deep,” Rotarian Trina Fowlkes said of The 100 Club, as she introduced its executive director, William F. Skeen, who presented a program to the Rotary Club of Livingston recently.

Skeen, a criminal justice graduate of Sam Houston State University, served as a state game warden for 27 years and has served as executive director of The 100 Club for the last five and a half years.

Skeen said The 100 Club is a 32,000-member non-profit organization that began in 1953, which provides financial support to the dependents of law enforcement officers and firefighters who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty in 32 counties surrounding Houston.

William F. SkeenWilliam F. SkeenHe said it was founded by a group of five men that saw the need to support the families of Houston police officers killed in the line of duty. The men were Leopold L. Meyer, Ray R. Elliot, R. H. Abercrombie, William A. “Bill” Smith and Jim “Silver Dollar” West. They reached out and motivated 100 people to contribute $100 each toward the mission. Thus, The 100 Club was born.

For nearly 50 years, the organization focused on police officers, but in 2001, The 100 Club expanded to support firefighters, Skeen said. However, as new counties have been added and new public servants have been supported, the mission has always remained the same.

“What do we do?” Skeen asked. “Within 24 hours of hearing (of the death), we present a $20,000 check to the family. Our goal is to eliminate the debt of the family. Because we’re a non-profit, we can go in immediately.

“We’ve helped over 2,000 families since 1953. Over 200 dependents are still being assisted. Over $300,000 is the average assessment. Collectively we’ve raised about $46 million,” Skeen said, adding that there have been 25 line of duty deaths during the five and a half years he’s been there.

The 100 Club added 14 counties to its coverage area in 2014 and Polk County is one of the counties that was added.

“Texas leads the nation in line of duty deaths and Harris County leads Texas. We’ve already exceeded in the first four months of this year what we’ve lost in entire years past,” Skeen said. “We’re the largest 100 Club in the nation and it’s all based on our membership what we’re able to do for these families.

One hundred percent of the 100 Club’s funding comes from donations from individuals and businesses. With the funding received, the 100 Club financially supports the dependents of heroes killed in the line of duty by paying off their home loan, vehicle loans, credit card debt and assisting with providing a college education for their children. They fund scholarships that allow officers to further their education in criminal justice. The also provide life-protecting equipment such as bulletproof vests, radio equipment and armored personnel carriers.

Additionally, they provide funding to replace all service animals who are killed or seriously injured in the line of duty for law enforcement and fire departments within their coverage area.

 Skeen said The 100 Club has also funded the HPD Tactical Village, a state-of-the-art training facility. He said they’ve bought three vans during the time that he’s been there for officers that have been shot and paralyzed.

“I wish there wasn’t a need for it (The 100 Club) but unfortunately law enforcement is getting more and more dangerous,” Skeen said.

There are different tiers of membership, starting at a regular annual membership for $100. “I think we have 60 members right now in Polk County,” Skeen said, adding, “We’re probably one of the best-kept secrets in Houston.” To learn more about The 100 Club, or to join, visit the100club.org.

The Rotary Club invited local first responders to the lunch meeting to hear the program. Representatives from Livingston Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Livingston Volunteer Fire Department, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Onalaska Police Department were present.

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