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MARCH 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 3

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MARCH 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 3


ALAN HELFMAN At Times he has More Memorabilia than Cars! ty Constable Precinct 4. “I’ve stayed a commissioned officer ever since,” he said with pride. “I hold a TCOLE commission presently at Harris County Precinct 7 as a reserve captain.” “I have a uniform for Precinct 7. But I’ve been commissioned by Precinct 5, Precinct 3 twice and Precinct 7 twice. I’ve been around a little bit.” His fundraising mindset permeates every day of business at River Oaks. He has a massive scrap book of the newspaper accounts of the fundraising activities, which over the years has included more than 50 for Texas Southern University. At one point, Helfman learned that the school’s golf team had no way of getting to out-of-town tournaments, so he donated a ,000 Chrysler Town & Country. When pressed a little, he can recall a steady list of contributions to churches, the University of Houston and both public and private organizations in need of funds. “We do a myriad of fundraisers almost every day,” Helfman said. “Every day somebody asks me for six auction items.” This brings us to the unlisted office upstairs. A few years ago, one could navigate directly to a large, executive desk where endless deals have been struck for Jeeps, Chrysler 300s and the other vehicles in the Helfman realm. Today, you can hardly find a place to sit down or get around, for there are stacks of boxes containing baseball bats, football jerseys (all signed with certificates of authenticity), footballs, baseballs, basketballs and maybe even an autographed soccer ball. Framed 16x20 autographed pictures also are propped up everywhere. Helfman tailors the list of auction items to his audience. Right now – football season – he would probably pick through the autographed football items, box them up and load them in a vehicle bound for the auction venue. “He’s a promoter extraordinaire,” 100 Club executive director Rick Hartley said. “He’s done a lot of wonderful things to help law enforcement off and on during the years. He’s a life member of the 100 Club.” Other evidence of Helfman’s activism can be found on both walls of the hallway leading to the upstairs office. He has plaques from mayors of Houston recognizing his support, alongside those from civic and political organizations thanking him for his dedication to their causes. He always walks the walk with his talk of support for officers. He has written op/ed pieces for the Houston Chronicle advocating progressive changes in policing philosophies. He has funded two horses for the HPD Mounted Patrol and shares a personal experience about his sponsorship for a canine member of the Department’s K-9 unit. “I pulled up to a Mounted Patrol one day,” he remembered, “and there was one of the K-9 officers standing there. The officer said he didn’t have a dog. How can that be? I asked. “I got together with Lt. (Steve) Marino and got that guy a dog.” He thrives on providing support for his pet causes and promptly calls “time out” from a car deal on the table to traipse upstairs to the supply office. He plucked out a Pete Rose bat and some baseballs for a Catholic church and up to a dozen other auction items for fundraisers planned by smaller police departments from south side suburbs to benefit officers. He can’t remember the details of the very first fundraising auction he championed but thinks it might have been at Cody’s in the Village, raising more than ,000 for a Houston officer. “We did a fundraiser in a vacant lot across from a U. S. Post Office,” he said. “A guy had barbecue pits on a makeshift stage. “One time we had one at a bar. I got all the people at the bar to buy Bagwell and Biggio balls. We raised ,000.” As you might well imagine, Helfman has written car deals for hundreds of officers. One was a sheriff’s deputy severely injured in a recent off-duty accident, leaving him unable to drive. Insurance coverage was not as complete as it needed to be. So Helfman helped him pay off the roughly ,500 he owed on his vehicle. In a more recent interview with IF Magazine in Houston, Alan relates how COVID and the pandemic played a part in his never-ending fundraisers and benefits and how he came to assist first responders in acquiring much needed PPE supplies. Last August, Alan had these comments about the pandemic: Alan with his son, Blake Helfman. ALAN: “At the beginning of this pandemic, I saw the need, so I acquired the KN95 masks and I gave 7 out of 8 constable departments over 400 masks. Nobody even knew what was going on yet, and I was there delivering masks, and people were picking them up here and from the HPD Union and HFD. I’d do 1000 to 2000 masks a day. I just thought it was my responsibility. Somebody had to step up and do it. The city wasn’t doing it.” IF MAGAZINE: Has philanthropy and fundraising for local causes always been a part of your passion in life, even as a young man in college? ALAN: I always knew I’d be a little fortunate. That’s why I hooked up with Provost. I knew I could permeate some major stuff to all ethnicities and the underprivileged and make their lives a lot better. From Reverend Manson Johnson of Holman St., a dear friend, or pastor Freeman who worked with Lee and I, he helped our vernacular to be somewhat lucid and fluid. I have met and worked with a lot of great people. Some have said I’m the best kept secret because I am not like some other promoters out there. I’m not that flashy; we just quietly go in there and take care of the fundraiser and get on to the next one. IF MAGAZINE: How has the pandemic affected your fundraising efforts? ALAN: It has slowed up a bit with the pandemic and all. Mrs. Provost and I have been doing probably two to three fundraisers a month for the past 30 years. One of the good things was Houston Community College 46 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 47 46 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 47

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