Letter From FBF President Rich Knodel
I hope this letter finds you well and blessed. I’d like to share a few reflections on the past year and let you know how your support of The Family Benevolent Fund is touching the lives of first responders and families in Oakland County. Thank you for serving with us.
Your generosity is providing help with unexpected medical bills, evictions, vehicle repairs, funeral costs, home repairs, and so much more for our hard-working neighbors. And the grateful response from those we serve is humbling. The tearful hugs and joyful Thank You's are constant. Just recently I heard from a mom of two children, one with severe special needs, who lost her husband.
“I didn’t know how we were going to get through this,” she told me. “My husband died unexpectantly, and all our finances are tied up.” Together, we offered aid and a way through.
The needs are monumental, and yet, so is your support. With frontline challenges, first responders are struggling with PTSD, suicide, and addictions. This year, The Family Benevolent Fund has helped several neighbors enter treatment facilities, receive the help they need, and successfully return to their families, jobs, and communities.
Recently, we also touched the lives of two special young men. One, a high school student, was struck by a car while riding his mountain bike to school and had to be rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, he survived his injuries, and the local fire department, knowing the family’s financial situation, asked us to help. Your support made his new bike and new smiles possible.
The second young man, Archer, made for one of our favorite stories of the year. Archer was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia after his 3rd birthday, and he and his family needed emotional encouragement and reason for hope. One of our board members knew the family and discovered Archer loves all things first responder. We went to work.
The Family Benevolent Fund bought Archer a battery-operated police car, pinstriped it with his name, and added Sheriff stars, lights, and sirens. Add the parade to Archer’s home — complete with police cars, fire trucks, a SWAT vehicle, drones, and few fly-bys from the Oakland Co. Sheriff’s Helicopter — and you can imagine Archer’s response and the tears from everyone on hand. You’d never believe the little guy had just been through chemo that week.
Not surprising, the event received lots of local media coverage and was quickly picked up nationally. What a humbling experience for everyone involved.
Finally, our Oxford Strong pin initiative was a huge success, raising more than $25,000 for aid and a new scholarship fund for district students, and our Comedy Night was great fun and raised much-needed awareness and financial support.
What an amazing year for our community! With your support, The Family Benevolent Fund continues to change lives for the better. We’re grateful for you and look forward to another year of service and impact.
Rich Knodel III
President /Family Benevolent Fund