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Fallen Heroes Fund Gift Cards Offer Support and Hope

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HOUSTON – Member contributions to the AFSCME Fallen Heroes Fund are helping many public service workers in Texas, who were affected by Hurricane Harvey, get back on their financial feet.

The contributions are helping them meet their immediate needs – and demonstrate that AFSCME members will take care of their fellow sisters and brothers in times of crisis.

For AFSCME Texas Retiree Liz Chapman – one of about 700 recipients of gift cards funded by member contributions to the Fallen Heroes Fund – the assistance has meant more than simply being able to buy essential items.

“I’m a retired state worker from Washington state. I recently moved to Texas to help my aging mother. I didn’t know anyone in Texas when the storm hit. Knowing that so many people all over the country cared enough to donate made me feel less alone,” Chapman said. 

Members from Local 1550 line up to receive assistance from the AFSCME Fallen Heroes Fund. (Photo by Namita Waghray)
Members from Local 1550 line up to receive assistance from the AFSCME Fallen Heroes Fund. (Photo by Namita Waghray)

In mid-October, HOPE AFSCME Local 123 held its fall fair. It was an opportunity for members who hadn't seen each other since before the storm to reconnect and pick up their gift cards.

“Sometimes, when you’re facing so much loss, it’s easy to feel depressed and sad. Coming here and talking to my friends at the union hall has made recovering a little less scary. Having the gift cards is just another example of how we care for each other as a union family," said Ida Smith, a HOPE member.

In an outpouring of support, AFSCME members from across the country raised nearly $92,000 for the Fallen Heroes Fund, which helps those affected by natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires. Contributions from AFSCME officers, locals and councils doubled that amount.

AFSCME Texas Corrections channeled money raised by corrections’ locals to their sisters and brothers in the heavily-affected Beaumont and Angleton areas.

“In one of the hardest hit areas, every penny counts. We’re so grateful for the help,” said Glenda Costly, a corrections employee and members of Texas Organizing Council 7. 

AFSCME Texas nurses – members of AFSCME Local 1550 – had worked straight through the storm, in 12-hour shifts, to care for their patients, while their homes were damaged and in some cases, destroyed. They also received assistance from the Fallen Heroes Fund. 

“It's such a gift for my co-workers and me to be able to run over to the nearby IHOP (International House of Pancakes) after our shift to receive these cards,” said Diana Salinas, an AFSCME 1550 member. “I don't know when I would have been able to get out to the office, so I am very thankful that they set it up so we could get it so close to where we work. I feel appreciated.”