The 100 Club purchasing 200 Level 4 vests for HPD officers because ‘This is what we do’ and have done for countless others since 1953

Tom Kennedy

A while back 100 Club executive director Rick Hartley was reading the Badge & Gun about the acquisition of several hundred Level 4 bullet-proof vests capable of stopping high-powered rifle rounds.

The first two major contributions came from the Houston Police Foundation and the Houston Police Officers Union, resulting in the purchase of the first 400 vests that would go to HPD patrol officers.

“Why,” Hartley asked HPOU President Ray Hunt, “didn’t you hit us up to buy some vests?”

“Well,” Hunt replied. “We’ve gone to you so many times.”

If you know Hartley, who has headed the 100 Club of Greater Houston for more than several decades, he knows his membership believes it can’t do enough to keep officers safe when they protect the citizenry.

“I told Ray, ‘This is what we do,’ ” Hartley told the Badge & Gun. “Then he directed me to Joe Gamaldi and it just so happened there was a board meeting that morning. I presented it to the board and they jumped all over it.”

The 100 Club board approved the funding for another 200 vests, bringing the total to 600 – so far.

“That’s how it all happened – with me reading the Badge & Gun and thinking that maybe we just do something with Ray and Joe,” Hartley said.

For the record, it required an expenditure of just more than $58,000.

Let’s add that to the 100 Club’s long list of thoughtful achievements and contributions.

The club’s mission began in 1953 when 100 Houston men gave $100 each and established the group with a three-fold purpose – to provide assistance to the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, to provide law enforcement agencies with life-protecting equipment not available through the city budgetary process and to provide law enforcement with educational opportunities.

No one can argue that the 100 Club hasn’t steadfastly fulfilled each of these purposes in Houston and all of the counties surrounding Harris County.

To date, according to a report supplied by Hartley, the 100 Club has given more than $19.8 million to 173 families. A total of $9.02 million is now being held in the organization’s survivors’ fund.

Furthermore, life-protection equipment such as bullet-proof vests, communications equipment, etc. has been given in the amount of more than $13 million.

Hartley said, “There are currently 70 students enrolled in the 100 Club educational programs at Sam Houston State University, the University of Houston Downtown, the University of Houston and Prairie View A&M University.

“The programs have 804 graduates, with 469 receiving undergraduate degrees and 335 receiving graduate degrees.”

A total of $8.8 million has been given through the 100 Club’s scholarship programs at these universities.

How does this organization achieve each of these worthy goals?

The answer: those 100 members grew to become 1,000 in 1976 and today amount to 31,897 members. Over the years the members have raised and spent more than $42.6 million “for all purposes since the club’s inception.”

As if that figure doesn’t stand out enough in Hartley’s up-to-date report, another quotation that emphasizes the 100 Club’s purposes does:

“Law enforcement, firefighters and the dependents deserve total community support. We give funds and sympathy.  They give their lives, while protecting ours.”

Hartley and 100 Club members would tell you that they can’t say more than what says it all.