Nonprofits that help family, friends of fallen officers still seeking donations

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- The wives of three fallen officers came together for a special photo shoot on Thursday. It not only honored their spouses, but it also raises awareness.

"A police officer can't do this job himself, a firefighter really can't do this job himself and a paramedic, you know, they take a lot of this stuff home with them," said Chris Chavous, who helped found the organization Support 1

He's also a sergeant at the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. He worked with Jason Sheppard, the deputy killed by a distracted driver in 2007. He was friends with Aiken Department of Public Safety Officer Scott Richardson and Cpl. Sandy Rogers, too.

After those tragedies, he got the idea for Support 1.

"We raise money through fundraisers and donations," Chavous said.

Support 1 provides critical incident stress management to grieving officers, firefighters and paramedics throughout the area. It helps their families, too.

But there's one problem.

"It's very expensive to host this training," he said.

"Being a 501(c)3 in today's economy is really tough," added Allison Comer.

Comer's organization, Beside the Badge, is feeling the tough times, too. Her organization's goal was to raise money for Aiken Public Safety officers to go to Washington, D.C., for National Police Week. Now that that's done, Beside the Badge still has plans, but the donations aren't as steady.

"What we're looking forward to doing is just doing more activities that will continue supporting Aiken Department of Public Safety. For example, we want to do welcome baskets for the new officers who are hired and their wives," Comer said.

So on Thursday afternoon, two Aiken business took the first step to help Support 1 and Beside the Badge. Aiken Driving Academy and J C's Seafood will put out donation jars, and they'll match the donations they collect.

"It's not really a challenge, but it really is. We hope that other businesses in the community catch on," said Steve Deibel of the Aiken Driving Academy.

Chavous from Support 1 actually just got back from Houston where he taught an organization there about critical incident stress management. He says before his organization was established, this area had nothing like it. He wants to continue offering what he does. Of course, his organization needs donations to survive.

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