Spouses Support Group-Serving those who serve our community
Written by Trevor Montgomery
Whenever someone from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Probation Department, Riverside County Coroner’s Department, Sheriff’s Administration, Sheriff’s Personnel or anyone else who falls under the umbrella of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department family has an emergency or any other need, the members of the Spouses Support Group-Serving Riverside Sheriff’s Department are prepared to spring into action at a moment’s notice and provide for those needs, with love, understanding and compassion.
Whether that need be for flowers, food, support, or anything else for the funeral of a deputy or one of their family members; emergency basic essentials such as diapers, formula, food, prepared meals or any other essential items for a member’s family going through a financial or family crisis; the group’s annual toy drive; participating with the annual We See You campaign; helping out and running a booth at the sheriff department’s annual picnic; participating with the annual Police Week; or any of the other number of functions the group participates in or assists with; the all-volunteer staff and membership of the Spouses Support Group is ready whenever they are needed to do whatever they can to provide for the needs of the members they serve.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kylleen Coogan, one of the Western County Leadership Council members for the Spouses Support Group and the Administrator for the group’s Facebook page. When asked about the services the Spousal Support Group provides it’s members, Kylleen said, “Law enforcement officers are people too. They are human. They hurt, they cry, they have emotional needs like anyone else. They just want to be seen as more than a faceless badge. Most of them are not looking for recognition or attention. They are our spouses, our parents, our brothers and our sisters, they are our neighbors and our friends and our loved ones and sometimes they and their families just need to know they are loved and supported. We are family for each other and we are each other’s strength and support, sometimes when no one else is available.”
Throughout the years, there have been a number of different spousal support groups that have come and gone for the sheriff’s department. In fact, when I suffered a terrible off-duty accident in 2006 and spent four months at Loma Linda Hospital after I broke my back in four places, partially amputated my left foot and was left temporarily paralyzed with a brain injury and a spinal cord injury, the members of the spouses support group at the time made a daily/weekly schedule and took turns bringing my wife and children pre-cooked meals so they would have one less thing to worry about while I was hospitalized and so they could better focus on my immediate medical needs.
The Spouses Support Group in it’s current form was created almost three years ago and will be celebrating their next anniversary in January 2016. When asked if there was anything planned to help celebrate the group’s upcoming anniversary, Kylleen shrugged off the notion of honoring or celebrating their organization and simply stated the group’s focus is always on the needs of it’s members, not the group itself.
Kylleen went on to explain that the members of the Spouses Support Group try to meet at least once every month at various locations throughout the county, but they usually meet either at the Riverside Sheriff Association’s office, located in the city of Riverside, or at one of the many sheriff’s stations located throughout the county.
When asked about the relationship between the group and the Riverside Sheriff Association, Kylleen couldn’t express enough how important the role is that the sheriff’s association plays in the continued success of the organization. “The Riverside Sheriff Association is pivotal in this endeavor. They are absolutely essential. Without RSA’s help, I just don’t know what we would do.” Kylleen explained. “No matter what we need, whether it be a place to hold our monthly meetings, financial or physical assistance for one of our functions or fundraisers, or anything else we have ever needed or asked for, they never hesitate to help us. I can not stress enough what a huge and vital role the Riverside Sheriff Association plays in helping and supporting the Spouses Support Group.”
One of the biggest upcoming events the Spouses Support Group will be participating in is the organization’s annual holiday toy drive, which begins the first week of November. This is one of the group’s largest, most important activities of the year and they are hoping this season will be their most successful year yet. Donations and volunteer assistance are always welcome from both the citizens of our county as well as local businesses and community involvement in this program is vital and the only way to ensure a successful event.
Anyone who wants to volunteer during the group’s annual toy drive can be instrumental in assisting with the gathering, collecting, sorting, wrapping and delivery of the toys to be handed out to those families who need them. According to Kylleen, last year a total of 86 families received toys, food and help from the Spouses Support Group during the holidays and they are hoping to be able to provide even more help this year.
When asked what the biggest project being currently worked on by the Spouses Support Group was, Kylleen explained the group is currently undergoing the long and tedious process of attempting to obtain tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. When I asked Kylleen how that process was going, she laughed and said, “It could be going better. We have a dedicated group working on the process, pouring over all the necessary paperwork but we could definitely use some help from someone in the community who has experience in that area.”
Asked about the future of the Spouses Support Group, Kylleen said she couldn’t even imagine such a vital, necessary and important resource no longer being available to the individuals and families the organization serves. “We find a strength in each other. There is a love and an understanding among each other that we otherwise might not be able to find elsewhere. It is a blessing to be able to talk to each other and support each other’s emotional and physical needs. When our spouses come home, we don’t want to overwhelm them with our daily worries and problems. That is where the Spouses Support Group steps in. Because we understand each other, we are a family and support for each other; sometimes when absolutely nobody else is willing to be that family and support.”
Volunteers and business owners interested in knowing more about helping or donating to the Spousal Support Group are encouraged to contact Kylleen Coogan either through the group’s Facebook page or by telephone at (760) 987-5133
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