Just hours after the murders last month of the four Oakland police officers, members of the 100 Club of Alameda County delivered checks of $20,000 to each of the three widows of the slain officers and to the parents of another who was not married. The checks, the first installment of what is likely to be many years of financial help from the local charitable group, are designed to provide a cushion as the surviving families move forward.
The 100 Club was founded in 1974 by the late Pleasanton homebuilder Marty Kauffman who was impressed by the work of a similarly-named organization in Detroit that provided immediate financial help to police victims' spouses and families. Returning home, he heard about two Oakland police officers who were killed in the line of duty and wrote a check for $1,000 to take to the spouses. Others heard about it and within weeks, others in Pleasanton rallied around Kauffman to start the 100 Club here.
Since then, the 100 Club of Alameda County has provided financial assistance to 39 families of both sworn firefighters and police officers who died while serving their departments and has supported 50 students attending college. Frank Capilla and Ken Mercer are past presidents of the organization and are among 21 board members from throughout the county who are board members. They're among the club leadership that takes the checks to survivors, "one of the toughest jobs I ever have to do," according to Capilla. Besides the initial donation, the club also provides up to $11,000 a year for a college education for each of a fallen officer's children, and special contributions are made to the families at Christmastime.
Funds come from golf tournaments, individual donors, members and dinner meetings held twice a year. Last January, former Livermore resident Dorothy Cleyman, who died in 2008, left $235,000 to the 100 Club to provide financial and educational support for families of fallen peace officers and firefighters. The bequest was made to honor Mrs. Cleyman's daughter, Lezlee Davis, who was a communications specialist with the San Leandro Police Department for 21 years, dying unexpectedly in 2001. Bobby Byers, current president of the club, said a plaque is being made for the San Leandro department in appreciation of the Lezlee Davis and Dorothy Cleyman gift.
For the most part, the 100 Club maintains a low public profile, making its contributions without press releases or fanfare. It employs a part-time administrator to keep track of its contributions and those to whom it has donated scholarships, and it holds two general membership meetings each year: a barbecue at the fairgrounds hosted by Capilla and Tony Macchiano on the third Wednesday in August, and another dinner on the third Wednesday in February where spouses and children who have benefited from the club's donations are invited to join in.
The club's board of directors is led by retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Byers; retired Pleasanton civil engineer Richard Karn, past president of the Downtown Pleasanton Rotary Club, is next in line for the top post, followed by Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff; Macchiano, co-owner of the Pleasanton Garbage Service, and former county supervisor Mary King. Mercer heads up the ValleyCare Health System Foundation and Capilla is the founder and owner of Can-Am Plumbing.
Starting small, the club now has more than 1,000 members and its long-standing membership assessment has also climbed, now at $150. To learn more about the work of the 100 Club of Alameda County and to hear first-hand on a YouTube video from some who have been helped by the club, sign on to www.100clubalamedacounty.org.