Clay County officials gathered Monday at the Historic Triangle in Green Cove Springs to officially launch the new Singal 35 Fund geared toward helping first responders and law enforcement officers in times of financial need.
Former Sheriff Rick Beasler opened the press conference with a story dating back to one year ago when he met with Sheriff Michelle Cook and, now Signal 35’s CEO, Judson Sapp for lunch and the conversation led to a discussion about the tough job law enforcement officers have, he said.
“The goal of this fund is to cut through the red tape when a serious incident occurs,” Beasley said. “We want emergency financial needs faced by Clay County’s public servants to be addressed quickly—literally the same day or overnight.”
The privately funded, non-profit organization is named after Clay County’s radio call code for “an officer needs help.” Board members are currently raising money with a $55,000 goal for the 2023 year.
The money will go to first responders and law enforcement officers facing emergencies, whether they occurred on or off the job, he said. These funds will be available within a 24-hour time frame, bridging the gap between the time other funds are not provided swiftly enough by benefits, he explained.
Cook provided scenarios of when these funds may be needed.
“For example, a deputy is shot in the line of duty while apprehending a suspect but his wife left, by car, three days ago to visit her mother in New York,” Cook said. “She needs to get on the next flight to come home to be by her husband's side at the hospital, but they do not have the funds to buy the expensive plane ticket.”
The Signal 35 Fund would be accessible in this emergency to help cover the costs of the flight home.
In another example, Cook said, “a long time civilian employee loses their home after lightning starts a fire on the roof. A single mom, she doesn't have the funds for the first and last month’s rent for an apartment for her and her kids, so they are staying in a cramped hotel room until they figure out their next steps.”
Requests made for Signal 35 Fund money will address real needs just like the ones described, Cook said.
Judson Sapp, owner of W.J. Sapp & Son, Inc. is the chairman and CEO of the Signal 35 Fund and explained that local citizens and companies have the ability to donate to the fund and will receive an online receipt that can be used for tax deductibles.
Surrounding jurisdictions and counties have similar nonprofits in their area that are equipped to handle the unique, special needs of law enforcement officers and first responders. Before now, no such thing existed in Clay County, he said.
The Signal 35 Fund webpage is officially up and running and they are accepting donations from individuals and local businesses.
Click here to visit the Signal 35 Fund webpage to learn more about the nonprofit, or to make a donation.
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