Horrible situation, wonderful response

How do you keep a promise, made to hundreds of orphans of federal workers, that they can go to any college they like on a full ride? It isn't easy, but it is...

Being a federal worker is dangerous. Sometimes deadly. Now more than ever.

Suppose you died in the line of duty, leaving children behind?

Consider this situation:

You’ve got hundreds of children — from high school to newborns — and you’ve promised all of them they can go to college, full- ride, anywhere they can get in. That’s whether it is Harvard, Vassar or a local community college. Their call.

And, unfortunately, even as many graduate, there are more to come. Probably followed by even more. Which is not their choice.

The largest group were children (including one unborn) who lost a parent or parents in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The domestic terrorist attack killed 168 people — feds from a dozen agencies — including nine preschool children in the federal daycare center.

More recently, the group added five minor children whose fathers were the two Navy SEALS who were murdered Sept. 11 in Libya as part of a terrorist attack. They’ve been promised $8,500 per year for school. And there’s lots more.

The question is, where is the money coming from? Short answer: You. People like you and some very generous and long-time corporate sponsors of the Federal Employee Education and Assistance (FEEA) fund, have donated generously over the years. FEEA supplied cash and grants to survivors of Hurricane Katrina, some of whom were slammed again this year by Hurricane Isaac.

FEEA director Steve Bauer, a former career executive with the Social Security Administration, has flown all over the country — sometimes with a suitcase full of cash — to help feds in distress. He’s also acted as “godfather” to hundreds of the children, who’ve often suffered emotional trauma because of the death of their parents and the way they died. The last memory many have of that parent was being dropped off at school, then called out of class to be told of the tragedy.

Maybe not so ironically, many of the FEEA scholarship kids, especially those from the Oklahoma City disaster, went to college and then into caring fields, like medicine, nursing or counseling. Most of the money FEEA raises comes from individual feds, much of it via Combined Federal Campaign checkoffs. But it also has gotten a ton of money — steady money — from GEICO, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and Long Term Care Partners.

If you want to know more about this feds-helping-feds charity, listen to our Your Turn radio show today at 10 a.m. EDT. Steve Bauer will be our lead-off guest discussing what FEEA does, how it does it and the role rank-and-file civil servants play. Later in the show we’ll talk with Andy Medici and Nicole Johnson from the Federal Times about the perils of sequestration, a new IT forecast and the growing mentoring trend in the federal service.


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