"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

.....What's In A Number?.....


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Photo: D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..…..What’s In A Number?…..

Last week in Savannah, I once again had the privilege to attend the ‘Tak Argentinis Valor Awards’ with the ‘Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’. Each year, Valor Awards are presented to First Responders who have shown extreme valor in the line of duty. Ricky Temple, the keynote speaker for the evening, spoke about the sacrifice and cost of the first responders who step up and run into trouble when most are running away. Police Officer Nicholas Peterson and Advanced Firefighter Andrew Lee where honored with this years Valor Awards. This morning’s M5T looks at the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire; an incredible organization that began from a tragedy and has become a legacy of service to the families of fallen first responder heroes.

1. 1952.  

The concept of the “Hundred Clubs” was born in Detroit in 1952, following the fatal shooting of a young police officer. William Packer, who at the time owned the largest Pontiac dealership in the nation, was so moved by this tragic death that he invited 100 of his business associates to a dinner at the Ritz Carlton, encouraging them to donate to a fund for the fallen officer. Packer and the police Commissioner met with the officers widow, reviewed her finances and, with funds raised at that dinner, arranged to pay off the mortgage on their home recently purchased in 1952, paid all the family’s bills, set up an education account for the yet unborn child and deposited $7,000 in the widow’s checking account. Bill Packer and his one hundred friends were the start of ‘hundred clubs’ across the US.

2. 1999 and 2000.

Mr. and Mrs. Tak and Renee Argentinis lost their son Christopher in the line of duty in December 1999, while he was chasing a drug suspect in Massachusetts. In October 2000, Mr. Argentinis met with two other men in Savannah and they outlined the formation of the ‘Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’ as a way to express gratitude and honor to the service of fallen officers. The ‘Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’ was incorporated on October 2000, as a Georgia nonprofit charitable organization 501(c)(3). The board consists of members of the business, law enforcement, judicial, professional, religious and academic communities.

3. 388, 20, 71 and 50.

‘The Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’ now has 388 active members, serves 20 counties in the Low Country, has served 71 families and has given 50 Valor awards to First Responders who have shown extreme valor in the line of duty.

4. $5,000,000 and 100%.

Since that first meeting in 2000, the Two Hundred Club has raised over $5,000,000 and has distributed over $2,000,000 to families of fallen heroes. What is so extraordinary is that this Two Hundred Club uses 100% of all contributions to the fund for those families. One. Hundred. Percent. All operating costs are contributed on a donated and volunteer basis.

5. 200.

“The principal objective of these organizations is to provide immediate financial assistance to the surviving spouse and children of local law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line-of-duty while protecting their communities.” The ‘Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’ provides fully paid college education to the surviving family members, including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and a computer. Every year the Two Hundred Club gives financial assistance for Thanksgiving and Christmas and sends red roses on Mother’s Day. After a line-of-duty critical injury, the Two Hundred Club provides a onetime financial contribution to the first responder and their family. In a day and age when first responders have been unfairly criticized and disrespected, the ‘Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’ takes care of the families whose spouses have paid the ultimate price of their lives while taking care of us.

Here’s to a week of appreciating the first responders in your community who day after day step up to serve and protect. If you have the opportunity, take a moment this week to shake the hand of a police officer, fire fighter, and first responder and simply thank them for what they do.

© 2020 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com