There are moments in our lives that stir inspiration. Usually when we think back to these times, they are filled with creative thinking, hope, and enthusiasm. But from time-to-time, seeds for these ideas are also planted during times of tragedy.
The idea for the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico’s (CFSNM) Federal Probation and Pretrial Officer Benevolence Fund began during one of the hardest times in Glynis Eaton’s life. Glynis was living a full, happy life in Charlotte, NC with her husband, Brian, and two young daughters. Her career as a Supervising United States Probation Officer for the Western District of North Carolina kept her busy, and she was just appointed the Mid Atlantic Regional President of the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association (FPPOA). Although Brian’s career as a Regional Loss Prevention Manager required quite a bit of travel, their family had grown accustomed to his schedule.
In January of 2018, Brian left town to attend a work conference. For their family, it felt like any other work trip. However, they had no clue that was the last time they would get to hug their husband and father goodbye. Glynis received a call from Brian’s coworkers that would forever change her life. Sadly, she learned that had Brian suffered a heart attack and passed away. “It took a few months to get myself to where I could even function—this was devastating for our whole family. Learning to be a widow was the hardest thing I have ever done,” she said.
As Glynis learned to live in a world without Brian, she remained focused and committed to raising their daughters. However, she soon realized she could not dedicate time to much else and decided to put her leadership position with FPPOA on pause. She started receiving bills for funeral expenses and was adapting to her now one-income household. During this time, something unexpected happened that gave Glynis a spark of hope. The President of the Loss Prevention Foundation visited her at her home and when he arrived, he delivered a $5,000 check from the foundation’s benevolence fund. Although he had never met Brian personally, he spent time with Glynis as she showed him around their home and introduced him to their daughters. This gesture made a tremendous impact for Glynis. “The biggest part I took away from this was that somebody thought Brian and his work mattered. He was always so proud of his work, his industry, and what he did for a living, but for someone else to acknowledge that meant the world to me.”
Glynis slowly continued to pick up the pieces. Six months later, she decided to step back into her role as a Regional President with the FPPOA. She started speaking with leadership about ways they could help fallen probation officers when the idea came to her to create a benevolence fund to support families during their time of need, just like the one she benefited from. They had experienced the loss of several officers due to suicide, and with mental health a growing concern in their industry, Glynis wanted to find a meaningful way to support officer’s families.
When Glynis shared this idea with the association, Amy Denise Kord, then FPPOA treasurer from Las Cruces, NM, said that the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico would be the perfect home for this fund. Amy and Glynis reached out to CFSNM CEO, Dr. Terra Winter, and began the process of establishing the fund’s parameters. They wanted to ensure the fund helped officers nationwide and was available for any officer who passed away, regardless of the circumstance of their passing.
Since its inception, the fund has benefited five families and continues to grow. “Part of our vision is that we want to get a check cut as soon as possible to give families a sense of security so another week doesn’t go by where they experience added stress,” said Glynis. Families of officers who have passed away from cancer and car accidents have been recipients of the benevolence fund, and Glynis hopes the fund continues to be a resource for years to come.
“Our entire team was incredibly moved by Glynis’s story, and how despite her grief, she was motivated to make a difference for the families of fellow fallen officers,” said CFSNM CEO, Dr. Terra Winter. “We look forward to growing the fund to allow FPPOA to make the largest impact possible across the U.S.” To learn more about the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico’s Federal Probation and Pretrial Officer Benevolence Fund, call (575) 521-4794 or visit www.cfsnm.org.