Zionsville Organization Serves Military & First Responder Families
Writer / Benjamin Lashar
Life is not easy for America’s heroes. Twenty-two soldiers a day die due to PTSD, and more police officers committed suicide last year than were killed in the line of duty. Even military and first responders who do not have PTSD sometimes suffer from feelings of anxiety and neglect. Zionsville’s Hero Family Outreach hopes to combat these feelings though providing appreciation and support to military and first responders.
Before starting Hero Family Outreach, the charity’s founder and COO Danielle Robinson sent care packages to her son in the armed forces. Danielle’s father, brother and husband all served, so she knew how much care packages could mean to soldiers. Eventually, she joined Traders Point Christian Church’s military ministry and began sending care packages to more soldiers. The ministry was able to touch many people. It even started sending packages to first responders in 2016.
Eventually, the military ministry thought it could reach more people as a nonprofit separate from the church, so they became an independent organization in January of 2017, creating Hero Family Outreach as it is known today. Currently, Danielle serves as COO, her husband Mark is the CEO, and local police officer Gary Hadden is the operations manager.
Hero Family Outreach still puts a heavy focus on care packages. The packages are highly customizable. Not only do they feature a personalized note, but the contents meet the needs of the recipient. For example, military members get soaps and shampoos that they couldn’t normally get, and k9 officers get treats for their dogs. All boxes usually also feature snacks, drinks and a pocket crucifix.
While the assorted supplies are nice, many military and first responders love the gesture.
“We had a volunteer two weeks ago when we were packing for Hamilton County,” Hadden says. “He’s a retired police officer. He said, ‘This is really nice. I am here to help because I never received one while I was a police officer.’”
While they are most known for care packages, Hero Family Outreach helps military and first responders in many different ways. For example, they host a variety of events. These range from blood drives to fundraising events like golf outings.
Hero Family Outreach also, as the name implies, tries to help the families of service members. As Daniele Robinson says, families of first responders “are serving as well. They are just serving in a different capacity.”
Therefore, Hero Family Outreach often tries to help families through shoveling driveways, cutting grass and helping fill in roles the serving family members might have filed.
Finally, of Hero Family Outreach’s newest and most interesting projects is providing service dogs. Service dogs are incredible companions for veterans. The dogs are even able to sense their owner’s mental state and act accordingly. The problem is that it takes $25,000 to fully train a service dog, so many veterans cannot afford them. Hero Family Outreach is teaming up with Ultimate Canine to raise enough money to provide two local veterans service dogs.
Looking to the future, Hero Family Outreach aims to continue their philosophy and assist local heroes.
“Even though we are no longer part of the church, we are out in the community,” Mark says. “We are not trying to evangelize to everybody, per say, but let Christ’s love and our appreciation and our actions show Christianity to others.”
For more information on Hero Family Outreach, visit them online at herofamilyoutreach.com or give them a call at 317-732-1887.