Bossier parish is considered by many to be one of the safest places to live and raise a family. One reason is that this area is known for having high quality police and fire protection as well as a great sheriffs office and emergency first-responders. With a great reputation for speedy response and serving the community, it’s easy to take for granted that when needed there will always be some professional guardian to respond to an emergency 24/7 – 365 days a year.
But what happens when those who serve find themselves in need of help? Who will look out for the guardians of the community and come running when they need assistance? Jessica Gray pondered these questions one rainy afternoon in North Bossier.
Who looks out for the Guardians?
“Me and my friend were sitting in my garage and while watching the rain we were discussing who takes care of our guardians,” explained Gray. “We were wondering what happens to those who serve and protect us when they find themselves needing someone to help them? And at the time we couldn’t think of a single group in Bossier dedicated to doing just that.”
So began the idea of forming a group of like-minded individuals to think of ways they could help those whose careers has been helping others. Guardians of Bossier United became established as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that focuses on helping those who have been in service to others. Jessica Gray is President and co-founder of the group along with Vice President & co-founder Paige Liddell.
“We help those who have served in the military, fire and police departments, sheriffs deputies, EMS, 911 Dispatch, ”explained Gray. “Anyone who has spent time in uniform is the focus of who we direct our efforts towards helping them or their families.”
Guardians of Bossier United is made up of 383 people, many of whom have served as guardians or are currently in uniform in various capacities such as the military, law enforcement, fire department, EMS / first-responders in Bossier City and surrounding parish. But membership is open to anyone who has a desire and is committed to help out when needed.
“And we will help anyone who needs it,” says Gray. “While we do focus on those who have been guardians for all of us, it’s not a requirement to get help from Guardians of Bossier. If you or someone you know needs help but if we can’t help directly, we’ll find someone who can.”
Help Comes in Many Ways
Help from the Guardians of Bossier United can come in different forms. It can involve something as simple as helping out with chores or tasks like yard work at the home of a disabled veteran, organizing a fundraiser for the family of an injured, ill or deceased officer or giving direct aid to those in need.
“Our most recent bigger event was when we organized a suicide prevention walk to help the family of a police officer who committed suicide last year,” explains Gray. “Right now we’re in the planning stages of making things we can sell to raise money so we can give back to the community. We’ve had gift basket raffles and selling t-shirts, but we’re always thinking of things we can do. We recently visited a VA nursing home and took our kids to hand out cards to the residents and that went over really well because a lot of veterans have little or no family.”
The group also provides special recognition to those in uniform who serve in different areas. It could be a certificate and small gift to a police officer or 911 dispatch operator. The Guardians have asked for small donations of stuffed animals to provide officers so they can give out to small children while out on a call.
Getting the Word Out – Growing the Guardians
Guardians of Bossier United has officially been a not-for-profit organization for just a little over a year. And it relies on current membership for fund raising activities and helping out which is no small challenge.
“We have a great group of people but right now the biggest challenge is getting the word out about our group,” explained Gray. “Anyone who wants to get involved can check out our Facebook page Guardians of Bossier United and leave a post or private message or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will respond as quick as they can.”
Any and All Help is Welcome
Membership to Guardians of Bossier United isn’t restricted as anyone who wants to help is encouraged to join.
“We have people who are elderly or disabled who need help with their yards or homes,” explained Gray. “And if someone would like to donate items of clothing like new warm socks that we could take to the nursing homes is welcome. We really just want to help the community in any way we can.”