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Meet Kristen Glasser of David Glasser Foundation in Laveen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Glasser.

Kristen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My husband, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer that was killed in the line of duty in May 2016. We were both Arizona natives, growing up in opposite parts of the valley. We were married for almost 14 years and have two young children (ages 5 and 2 at the time). He was shot and killed responding to a burglary in progress in Laveen. As you can probably imagine my life was completely turned upside down. After some of the fog had lifted, I had a very strong sensation that his death had to have a purpose. Why was I in this position? What am I supposed to do with this tragedy? How do I respond to this for me and my kids? After some conversations with close friends and family, I realized we all had the same urgency to do something positive with this situation.

At that time, it seemed that there was a lot of tension nationwide between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. To me, it was part of that negative perception of officers that led to my husband being killed that day. We decided to target that issue by providing positive opportunities for law enforcement officers to connect and interact with the citizens in the communities they serve, particularly youth and their families. It has definitely been a learning process for us to figure out how to run our own non-profit. We started with a small board of directors and have slowly grown from there. We officially became a 501c3 in the summer of 2017. Since then, we have held 3 “Back to School” events where citizens donated backpacks and the foundation purchased school supplies. We invited students from at-risk areas to “shop” with an officer for their school supplies. They were able to pick out a brand new backpack and fill it with all of the supplies they would need to get their school year started off on the right foot. Our other main community event is our holiday “Shop with a Cop.” Students were nominated by their teachers and school administrators to participate. They were paired up with a law enforcement officer and were given a $250 shopping budget to shop for themselves and their families at Target.

Along with community events, we have always dreamed of involving sports in the foundation’s mission of bringing officers and youth together. David was a huge sports fan and loved playing sports. We both knew how beneficial participating in sports can be for children. So, we recentlypartnered with Laveen Youth Sports to provide the first-ever David Glasser Foundation Youth Sports League. We served nearly 100 school-aged youth with a basketball league and a chance to interact with officers in a positive atmosphere. We also hosted our first flag football tournament in March. Teams from around the valley came to participate and we had officers on site that day to interact with the teams. Moving forward we hope to continue to grow and expand our sports programs.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
With my background being in education, my knowledge of creating and running a nonprofit was minimal. I recruited one of my good friends, Amy, who has prior nonprofit board experience, to walk alongside me in this journey. We definitely had to learn as we went. We made sure that we talked to people who could give us good advice and guidance.

Along with the predictable struggles of learning something new, there have also been emotional struggles. Many of our events are located in the same community Dave was killed in. This is purposeful but also difficult. All of our events leave me with a duality of emotions. I’m very proud of the work we are doing and I love to see kids and officers interacting, sharing smiles and laughter. But at the same time, I am constantly reminded of the reason we are here – and it’s because David is not.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about David Glasser Foundation – what should we know?
The David Glasser Foundation is run on pure heart and love for people. Everyone that has served on our board, volunteered at our events, given to our organization, etc., has done so because they truly care for people and their communities. We don’t have any paid staff. Everyone volunteers their time and resources.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I would say perseverance would be the most important quality that has led to my success. When Dave died, I was devastated. I didn’t know how life could possibly go on without him part of it. The grieving process is grueling and there were many days I wanted to give up. But I couldn’t. I have two amazing children that I have to be an example for. I have to show them that even in our hardest of circumstances we can still stand strong and do good in the world.

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