By Robert Garland, CEO of Fund The FIrst
For police officers around the country, these are trying times. There is so much negativity in the news and on social media it is difficult to focus on those who appreciate the great work you do. The fact remains, however, Americans have shown a tremendous desire to help those who help them – police and other first responders in need.
As police officers, we put our lives and livelihoods on the line every day for our communities and their residents. That has been no better displayed than during the Coronavirus crisis over the past five months. We need help to deal with losses due to injury or illness. Our families need assistance when the ultimate sacrifice is made and a death in the line of duty occurs.
That is why myself, along with a founding team of current and former law enforcement, have launched FundtheFirst.com, the first online verified contribution platform for police and other first responders.
Our platform enables anyone to host a contribution campaign for first responders – law enforcement, fire & rescue, EMS, military and medical – in need. Prior to the launch of any campaign, the identity of the first responder or family in need (in the case of a death) must be fully verified. In addition, all campaign proceeds are paid directly by Fund the First to the campaign’s designated beneficiary – a first responder or his/her family. No third parties, no fraud, no scams.
Our entire platform is based on trust and verification to make sure that first responders in need are not exploited. Sadly, scammers and criminals have used first responders stories and consumer generosity on other online fundraising platforms to collect millions in online contributions that never went to the intended recipients.
Fund the First is the direct result of a colleague’s skepticism of criminal behavior on existing sites. My New York Police Department superior officer—Sergeant Jason Stocker — needed assistance to help pay for his daughter Callie’s rising healthcare costs as she courageously battled a rare neurodegenerative disease.
Understandably, Jason was wary of using the most popular crowdfunding site due to lack of oversight so we set out to create another vehicle, which became Fund the First. Callie tragically passed away earlier this year, but the campaign in her name has raised over $15,000 and her inspiration is sure to help countless others.
Jason’s skepticism is common among law enforcement officers. We understand there is nothing more important than trust. That is why we have built a service that both first responders and financial contributors can count on. To do so, we have partnered with id.me to securely prove the identity of any first responder in whose name a campaign is started on Fund the First.
When someone starts a campaign on Fund the First or makes a donation, they will know, with zero doubt, the funds are going to the officer, first responder or family in need.
Already, we have seen campaigns to benefit officers, or their families, finding success. In addition to the Stocker family, a campaign for the son of NYPD Detective Robert Cardona, who passed from complications due to Covid-19, has met its goal of $5,000. Additionally, the family of retired Army veteran and NYPD Sergeant, David Yu, has nearly doubled their $5,000 goal after he passed from 9/11 related cancer in June.
Beyond helping individuals and their families, Fund the First is here to help units and departments. If you are facing budget shortages, and are in need of equipment or other supplies, we will work with you to raise the funds you need. Additionally, any non-profits whose missions are to benefit those in law enforcement or other first responders, are welcome, and encourage, to host campaigns at www.fundthefirst.com.
We want you to know we are here as a resource to support our fellow brothers and sisters in blue as well as your families in times of need. During these difficult times, it is more important than ever to be there for each other and we will always have your back.
About Robert Garland
Robert is a decorated detective with the New York City Police Department for the past 12 years where he specializes in complex investigations. During that time, he has developed numerous working relationships with various organizations and charities. Robert has credentials with the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is an expert witness to the Office of Special Narcotics New York.
Robert’s devotion to the first responder community has lead him to found and develop Fund the First after seeing firsthand the hardships that are faced both on and off duty. His goal as CEO is to provide a secure space for first responders and their family to request help in times of need.