After six years, the Windermere Police Foundation has reached its milestone investment goal of $100,000 to establish a scholarship fund in fallen Officer Robbie German’s honor.
Six years ago, Windermere Police Officer Robert “Robbie” German made the ultimate sacrifice for the community he served.
Today, his legacy of service to the town he loved lives on through the Windermere Police Department Foundation — and through a major milestone the foundation recently accomplished.
On Aug. 14, the foundation announced it has reached its $100,000 investment goal to establish a scholarship fund in German’s honor — one of the main goals from the inception of the foundation.
This accomplishment enables the foundation to provide scholarships to new officers who will attend the police academy, said Town Manager Robert Smith.
“We just wanted to make sure that we established some sort of foundation where we could keep his name living on, honor him and make sure we gave back — not only to the community he loved and protected and served but also to the general area, as well — and also help people that are trying to get into the field of law enforcement,” said Smith, who also serves as the president of the foundation.
“It’s so exciting to see to fruition one of our main goals for the foundation being achieved,” said Windermere Police Chief David Ogden. “I made a promise to the family that we would always stand by the German family and honor Robbie’s sacrifice. I can’t think of a better way to leave a legacy.”
The plan is to award one scholarship each year to a deserving recipient. Smith said he will convene with Mayor Jim O’Brien and Police Chief David Ogden and German’s family to assemble an application process and qualifications.
Achieving the $100,000 milestone was a community effort, Smith said, and was only possible through the sweat equity of Windermere police officers, residents, staff and generous donations. Those donors and partners include Dan Newlin, Graham Chiropractic, Windermere Wine & Dine, Windermere Craft Beer Fest, Brinckerhoff Financial Group of Raymond James, Wounded Officer Initiative, Gray Robinson, Heinz Group and the German family.
Today, the Windermere Police Foundation hosts fundraising events such as the annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and is a beneficiary of other town fundraisers. It also supports various charitable organizations and community events.
Along with the newly established scholarship fund, the foundation also has its hands in supporting various charities and community events. That includes the Sleep in Heavenly Peace bunk bed-building events, Cops and Bobbers, the Michael Callin Memorial Scholarship Fund and National Night Out.
“Officer German loved this community, and he made the ultimate sacrifice for the community, so I think he’d be proud and honored to see that we’re doing this in his name and not just doing it locally in the town of Windermere,” Smith said. “When there’s a need out there, we make sure that we try to fill that gap if they have one.”
That includes providing continuous donations to officers killed or injured in the line of duty, sending officers to participate in events that honor those officers and their families, supporting various charitable organizations, promoting safety in the community, and purchasing tools and equipment necessary for the Windermere Police Department to fulfill its mission.
Those goals can only be achieved with assistance and donations from members of the community, Smith said, and reaching the $100,000 milestone provided a sense of relief and excitement.
“We’ve worked so hard over the last six years to get to this point,” he said. “You’re relived that you reached that goal, but there’s also the excitement that now … we can begin the process of this scholarship. … It hasn’t been easy, but we definitely could not have made it to this point without those that we sent a big thank you to. … We do a lot of little things, but just having this investment account with the amount of money that we have in it now, whatever happens to myself, the mayor or chief, this will live well beyond us. That feeling that it’s going to live beyond us … is just a great feeling of not only relief but excitement.”
Smith added the foundation doesn’t have paid staff. Everyone involved is a volunteer, and they do it to keep German’s legacy living on.
“That $100,000 was just a huge milestone,” he said. “The first two people I called were Chief Ogden and Mayor O’Brien, because from the very beginning, that’s the one thing we wanted to do — set up something that would live beyond us, and we’d be able to pay for somebody’s scholarship for them to enter the academy. We couldn’t have done it without the community support and generous donations. There’s no way we would’ve been able to get where we wanted to as fast as we have. … We make sure that we’re actively out there promoting the foundation and Robbie.”