It is the purpose of the Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation to provide assistance to injured police officers in need. This assistance may be in the form of information on available resources or monetary aid to help ease the financial burden in a time of crisis.
The WPPBF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of sworn law enforcement personnel, retired law enforcement as well as members of the community who are served and protected by these officers. The organization was formed in July of 2011 in the wake of two critical incidents that resulted in local police officers being severely injured in the line of duty.
As fundraising events were planned and held for these officers, it quickly became apparent that there was a need for an organization where officers and their families could turn for assistance. Help was needed not only in the form of financial aid but also in having questions answered regarding event planning and coordination, donations, publicity and media relations. The families also needed assistance with health care concerns as well as tax issues and banking needs. This organization exists to assist officers and their families with these and other issues.
The Western Pennsylvania Police Benevolent Foundation holds community events throughout the year for the purposes of educating the public as to our mission, and to raise monies to help ease the financial burdens of those affected. We are a non-profit organization, and all funds raised go to injured officers and their families.
The WPPBF does not differentiate between full-time or part-time police employment or union affiliation. Assistance is available to any police officer in the Western Pennsylvania area. The level of assistance that officers and their families receive will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will be based upon the availability of funds and resources. All cases are reviewed and voted on by the WPPBF executive board of directors.
Often, injured officers and their families are overwhelmed with important decisions that must be made regarding their circumstances, and making correct decisions is critical to a successful recovery. Help with understanding available options, or simply letting those affected know that there are people who care and are available for them, is the mission of the WPPBF.
Often, members of the board are asked, “How did you come up with the idea for the Foundation?” The answer is simple ... Nothing like it ever existed in Pennsylvania, until now. How it all started went like this:
Initially, the idea for an organization dedicated to help injured officers and their families was the brain-child of Officer Rich Griffith of the South Park Township Police Department. In April of 2011, Officer James Kuzak was shot while responding to a domestic call in Clairton, PA. Friends gathered to raise money to help him and his family. Although Officer Kuzak’s medical bills were covered by insurance, there were many costly incidentals that needed to be addressed. It was quickly learned at that time that no agency, business or organization existed to help police officers and their families in a time of crisis. So, we started one. At this same time, Sergeant Daniel Hahn of the Cranberry Township Police Department was attempting to recover from severely disabling injuries. Sergeant Hahn had been injured in February of 2011 when he and a suspect fell from a bridge to the ground below. With two friends in need, the WPPBF had an incredible challenge facing them. We were up for the job.
Contacts needed to be made, events needed to be planned, and the word needed to get out. By trial and error, we learned media relations, event planning and coordination, and we conquered the fundamentals of fundraising. Having little knowledge of public relations but a lot of determination, those who committed to help their friend were very successful. Using new-found skills, those who came together to help Officer Kuzak and Sergeant Hahn now make up the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and are all dedicated to helping officers and their families who are in need.