Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev

To Protect and Serve with Marc deClaire

February 27, 2023 Kosta Yepifantsev Season 2 Episode 58
To Protect and Serve with Marc deClaire
Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
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Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev
To Protect and Serve with Marc deClaire
Feb 27, 2023 Season 2 Episode 58
Kosta Yepifantsev

Join Kosta and his guest: Marc deClaire, Master Police Officer for the City of Cookeville and Founder of The Cookeville Human Fund.

In this episode: Marc's career in law enforcement and his journey creating The Cookeville Human Fund. How  street level assistance help these citizens to avoid the worst case scenarios when more than 11,000 citizens in Putnam County are living in poverty. What we can do to get involved with CHF and what kind of resources and outreach the program needs to keep growing.

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find out more about Marc deClaire and Cookeville Human Fund:
https://cookevillehumanfund.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cookevillehumanfund

Donate to Cookeville Human Fund:
Mail Checks:

Cookeville Police Department
1019 Neal Street
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Attn: Officer Marc deClaire
 
Online:
https://cookevillehumanfund.com/get-involved/#donate

Find out more about Kosta and all the ways we're better together:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kosta and his guest: Marc deClaire, Master Police Officer for the City of Cookeville and Founder of The Cookeville Human Fund.

In this episode: Marc's career in law enforcement and his journey creating The Cookeville Human Fund. How  street level assistance help these citizens to avoid the worst case scenarios when more than 11,000 citizens in Putnam County are living in poverty. What we can do to get involved with CHF and what kind of resources and outreach the program needs to keep growing.

Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a product of Morgan Franklin Media and recorded in Cookeville, TN.

Find out more about Marc deClaire and Cookeville Human Fund:
https://cookevillehumanfund.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cookevillehumanfund

Donate to Cookeville Human Fund:
Mail Checks:

Cookeville Police Department
1019 Neal Street
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Attn: Officer Marc deClaire
 
Online:
https://cookevillehumanfund.com/get-involved/#donate

Find out more about Kosta and all the ways we're better together:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/

Marc deClaire:

At the times that I make decisions, I always want to ask myself, Is this in the best interest of the police department? Is this in the best interest of the city of the community? And the person in need of services? If I can answer yes to that, that's a no brainer.

Morgan Franklin:

Welcome to Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev, a podcast on parenting business and living life intentionally. We're here every week to bring you thoughtful conversation, making your own path to success, challenging the status quo, and finding all the ways we're better together. Here's your host, Kosta Yepifantsev.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Hey, y'all, this is costly. And today, I'm here with my guest, Mark, declare, Master Police Officer for the City of Cookeville, and founder of the Cookeville human fund. Mark, you've worked over 20 years on the front lines of the Cookeville Police Department, and you've seen firsthand what are growing pains feel like? How is the Cookeville human fund relieving these pains? And what sets the program apart?

Marc deClaire:

Our mission statement, it's an immediate response to a short term need or solution for people in a critical bond at the street level, what is the street level mean? It means that we're already on the front lines as police officers. So we're either going to respond to it through our dispatch center, somebody has called or we come up on it. And we you know, we're going to address it right that in there, and how are we different? We don't have an office? Our offices are cruiser guys are totally mobile. Right? So yeah, we don't have an office where the person is treated like a number, right? Like I said, we're street level with the person and crisis right then and there.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Amazing. And we're going to talk a little bit about some of the things that you've encountered, over the time that you've had the Cookeville human fund active? I am curious, how long has it been around about three and a half years? Amazing. And at the end, we're going to also ask how it was developed, because I can't wait to hear the story the first day when you're driving around and your police cruiser, and you're like, you know what we need? You know what I need in my life? Yeah, because I already work, you know, probably 60 hours a week, but what I really need to do to make a difference, right? So I think it's important for people to understand, these aren't uncommon issues. 57% of Americans can't afford $1,000 emergency expense, and that's nationwide. So more than 11,000 citizens in Putnam County are living in poverty. How does your intervention help these people avoid the worst case scenarios?

Marc deClaire:

Okay, so first of all, it's collectively the it's got to be an infrastructure change, okay, where the whole community comes together with mental health services, drug treatment, affordable housing, again, you know, we need to work together and not be soloed. One Agency can't fix this. And it has to be a joint effort. We got to be a part of the solution. And you know, some out there I won't mention any names, but it's either their way or no way. Right. Fortunately, the highlands residential service just got a grant to build housing for the homeless. So that is great news. You know, it's a step in the right direction.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I actually just read about that in the paper this morning. Yeah, it's astounding. So I think they're wanting to build 20 homes off buffalo Valley Road, red bud village, I think. And man, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the things that we encounter as a society, well, let me put it like this a lot of the things that you encounter as you're providing these services. Imagine how many of those problems could be fixed if there was just access to affordable housing?

Marc deClaire:

I mean, that's 100% Correct. That's where we start. Yeah, because the home was where it starts, you know, you got a roof over your head, and you know, just finally feel normal

Kosta Yepifantsev:

at step one of the American dream. You know, I remember when we moved, so I was born in Russia, and I moved to the United States with my parents when I was five. And I remember like, so it was the Jewish Community Center in Atlanta is who helped us get our green card and everything like that. We had a sponsor in the United States in Atlanta, who was Jewish, and he was a psychiatrist in Atlanta. He took us to the grocery store, when we first landed to buy us some groceries. And then he took us to this apartment in metro Atlanta. And I mean, like, it had a dishwasher. It had a fridge, it had carpet, it was 800 square feet, like these are all things that we did not have, right? We had no idea what was going to happen when we came to America. We didn't know if we could even make it in this country. But as soon as we walked through the door of that apartment, we realized like Okay, step one. Yeah, check. We got this.

Marc deClaire:

Yeah. It's amazing how much we take that for granted. Right, I get it.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Do you think that we're properly responding to the homeless communities that are growing in this area?

Marc deClaire:

I think so, you know, like I said, we collectively come together and provide those resources to people that are in need of services. So yeah, we'll make an assessment, you know, so what does this person need? And we'll, we'll get them in touch with these agencies and just sort of, you know, letting them know, Hey, this is what you need to do you know, goodbye, right? No, let's make a good effort at getting it right for them and starting them on that path to those particular resources, because we got a lot.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah, I mean, is it hard? Like, I've never actually talked to a person that's in the throes of homelessness, like face to face? Is it hard to get them off the streets?

Marc deClaire:

It is? Why? Well, unfortunately, some of them, they want to be on the streets, they have an addiction. And I'm not saying all of them, of course, but they have an addiction, and they just don't want to seek the help. So I think that's the challenging part of it, dealing with homeless people, they're not all drug ease, you know, some of them have fallen on hard times, you know, if we could just elevate them, you know, a step in the right direction, and they're willing to accept that, I think that that's a good starting point.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So as a community, how can we collectively help those people that are living in extreme poverty,

Marc deClaire:

what I believe is we need to, a lot of these are nonprofits, sure. And a lot of people they, they want to connect, and try to, you know, correct the problem or help with the problem. And I think the best way is to donate to these charities, just nonprofits, because they do provide a service. And so I think that that's probably the best way to address it.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And what a lot of people also don't know about nonprofits is all of your like information. So all the money that you receive, you have to file a 991. That's public information. So anybody can go and check to see how money was spent for any nonprofit that they've donated to. I say that because it's really important, I think a lot of times the amount of money that it takes for an organization to really affect change is relatively substantial. And so it's going to require a lot of investment for you to accomplish your short and long term goals for that matter. So knowing that all of that money can be accounted for and you can access those returns, it's very important to keep that accountability going because more people will feel confident that donating to the Cookeville human fund, it's going to be spent the right way. So yeah, absolutely. That is correct. As someone that spent their entire career in law enforcement and civil service, what is your personal mission for safety and law enforcement in the upper Cumberland,

Marc deClaire:

my personal mission is children. So that strikes a chord with me, when I see somebody that really needs some assistance. It's, you know, it's a family. It's a family unit when they have children. And when I see them go without certain things that gets to me, so I will go out of my way for children, and also a police officer who's making contact with a child and our family. And they see that we're not, you know, this

Kosta Yepifantsev:

overbearing, it's not punitive. Right, exactly. You're trying to help. Yeah. And

Marc deClaire:

they see that and they see we're helping them and they're like, hey, these police officers, they're all right, you know, so that goes a long way in the community.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

We said earlier, we were naming off some statistics, and we said that 11,000 citizens in in Putnam County are living in poverty. How many of those are kids? Think, is there a lot of kids that are living in poverty?

Marc deClaire:

I would imagine there is I mean, I don't I don't I shouldn't give it number, because then I'd be speculating, but I would imagine the children of the family that's in poverty, I mean, that's, that's it right there.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

You know, when we had Trevor Larsson on the show, he said, you know, listen, we grew up poor, but none of us knew it, right. Because we were kids. And, you know, we were just happy to be with our parents. When you see these kids in the uncertain conditions, you know, obviously impoverished conditions, it looks bad. Does it just completely grab your heart? Because you know, that these kids are just so happy and their entire life? The positive things that they can accomplish in the world is like literally right in front of them. Do you ever just feel like you want to just grab them and say, Come on, you're coming with me, you know?

Marc deClaire:

Yeah, I do. And they don't know any better if they're are growing up poor, like you said, again, I will go out of my way to assist a family that's in need. Yeah, children are my weakness.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So tell us some success stories on how the Cookeville human fund intervened in a crisis situation.

Marc deClaire:

So just recently about, I would say about three weeks or so ago, we had a residential fire on the north end of town. I was not dispatched to that particular call, but another police officer was on our shift. That officer contacted me and said, Hey, can you come over here and see if there's any assistance that you could provide them? So all? Yeah, absolutely. So I get there and I talked with the mom, this fire started just suddenly bedspread real quick. And thankfully, her her children were in school. So she obviously she can't stay there. Yeah.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Did they lose everything they lost? Yeah, pretty much. Wow, that's terrible.

Marc deClaire:

For those that have been following the crypto human fund, they know I don't do hotels, they don't I don't do housing insurance with the exception of something that's really catastrophic. Yeah, it's gonna be that for me to get involved and do housing. Well, that fits the criteria. If that didn't fit the criteria, I don't know what would, yeah, we put them up in a hotel for two weeks. And, but if I get the couple human fun, gets involved with housing, somebody, there's gotta be an end game. When my assistant drops off, I need something to pick that someone else to pick it up. They were fortunate enough to have UC HRA come in and intervene after my assistance was done. So that's one example. We responded to when I say we, me and fire rescue, and we responded to a factory in in town where this woman had a seizure. And she had a seizure on the factory floor. She couldn't afford her medicine. Well, her her supervisor was standing right there and said, You cannot come back to work until you get back on your medication. Yeah. And looking at her, I could see the color run out

Kosta Yepifantsev:

of her face, and how can you afford medication if you don't have a job, right?

Marc deClaire:

So by intervening in something like that, that's going to prevent somebody from spiraling out of control. And she was staying at a local hotel here. And she's one of these people that are one paycheck away from becoming homeless. So I asked the lady, where do you get your meds from? I'll get them. And I'll get them to you. She was going to hospital and I got her meds delivered it to her. And I said, if you need more help, let me know. Because I think that was very important. Another one is, I can't believe that people would actually steal a child's bicycle. But that's not what happens. I got to report a theft. And it was in government housing,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

have a childhood bicycle of a child's bike. Why? What do you do with a chat with a children's bike?

Marc deClaire:

I mean, your gifts as good as mine. And to boat, the child is autistic. I wasn't going to let that you know, I mean, come on. Yeah, for sure. So I went to one of the stores here in town. I got um, a bike, I brought it to him. And he was just beside himself. So happy. You know that. I didn't have to do this, you know. But here we got a nice brand new bicycle. And the neighbors and his mom, they were just so appreciative that, you know, I took the time out of my way to do that. Is that something that the platform of the Google human fund does now. But I think that's in the best interest of the community.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Are you wearing your uniform when you're when you're responding to the halls on behalf of the Cookeville? Human? Yes, I don't, I'm not gonna civilian attire. Right. So how much good does that do for like, the image of policing in our community?

Marc deClaire:

You can't put a price on that. Right? Because by having that kind of positive image representing the police department, you know, representing the city, the times that I make decisions, I always want to ask myself, Is this in the best interest of the police department? Is this in the best interest of the city of Cookeville? The community and the person in need of services? If I can answer yes to that? That's a no brainer.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

How do they get in touch with you guys? Do they is it through Facebook? Do you guys have like a website or an email? Or is there a network of people that they have to go through like four or five different stages and then they get to you or how does it work?

Marc deClaire:

I have Facebook, okay. A lot of my requests come in through messenger and that's just you just plug in couple human fun. Sure. I'm the only one

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I mean, but you guys are like changing tires. So, here's the thing, you guys are literally like, okay, it's an eight hour shift, right?

Marc deClaire:

It's a 12 hour, okay? So

Kosta Yepifantsev:

it's a 12 hour shift, right? So in a 12 hour shift, you're thinking to yourself, like, I'm gonna respond to calls, I'm gonna drive around, I'm going to, you know, enforce the law, fight for justice. But you know, since since the last three years, it's like, well, now I'm gonna check my Facebook too. And I'm gonna have people that that are going to ask, you know, hey, listen, I'm on the side of the road, and I've got a flat tire, and I gotta get to work. And you guys are my only hope you know what I'm saying? Like, that's a big deal.

Marc deClaire:

It is. And it's a lot more edit responsibility. I've got the Facebook, I've got I just recently got Instagram. I'm not like real savvy with Instagram man. And I have a website, couple human font.com. But a lot of the times is we'll get the phone call through dispatch, and then it will be up to that responding officer can officer declare, respond and provide assistance with his mission? So a lot of times it comes in that way? How do

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you guys get your funding? Because I'm assuming it costs a lot to operate this fund? Well, it's

Marc deClaire:

not cheap, right? It's 100% 100% community donations,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

and how can they donate?

Marc deClaire:

They can log on to my website, which is cocoa, human fund.com. Go to the Get Involved page. And from there, it will give you a list of how to donate I have Venmo. I have PayPal, I have go fund me, Go Fund Me. They like to hold the money for a month, but I still have it. And obviously, I like the old fashioned way is I get checks sent to me, or sure they could send it to COVID Police Headquarters. It's 1018. Neil Street, just put at the bottom of the envelope is attention officer Mark declare, okay, that's the best way to do that.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And then you don't have to pay a fee or anything like that, either. I don't know. It's I'm curious about this. Because as we're talking in my brain, I'm thinking like, Okay, let's see, how many things does he do? And how many people is he servicing through this fund? So is this a entirety of Cookeville Police Department? Or is this just a mark declare project?

Marc deClaire:

So originally, it was just me, right? Nice. You know, responding to things, not just on duty, but off duty and getting phone calls at two o'clock in the morning. So I devise the plan to ask some volunteers on each shift, because we got four who would like to facilitate this mission on your shift? That will relieve me of a lot of no duty. So we've got an officer on every shift that can facilitate this campaign. So I depend on them. And I give them a lot of discretion. I formulate a cheat sheet what we don't want to do. Just to give you an example, this is the street level assistance response. It's not I don't have enough money to get by you because otherwise had got bankrupt. Yeah. And it's exclusive to Putnam County only.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Okay. I just have three more very short questions. Why is there not a program already, like the Cookeville human fund in Putnam County? Why in all and more importantly, why does it have to come out of the Cookeville police department? What makes this the relationship between the citizens and the Cookeville police departments so special that it's so effective coming out of that department?

Marc deClaire:

Because we're already on the frontlines? Right, being a first responder, this is not the company, you know, if you say it's eight to five, and then you went, Oh, we close up shop now. We as police officers, we are 24/7. Right? There is no Okay, since it's, you know, Christmas, or shutting down. And we'll see after the first of the year now, not me, hey, we're 24/7 we're always there.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So since there's nothing from like the city or county, but there is partnerships that they have with the Cookeville human fund. Do you guys get funding support from the city or the county? Button? No.

Marc deClaire:

And I don't want you don't want that because I believe that's a conflict of

Kosta Yepifantsev:

interest. Okay. Okay. Interesting.

Marc deClaire:

Yeah, I actually had somebody from the government of the city wanting to donate and I'd said, No, I don't think that's a good idea because of that conflict.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So okay, let me wrap this up into the question that I've been just dying to ask you since we started this show. It's extreme. Really altruistic. And you have closed this off to just be managed by police officers intentionally. And I think that's I think that's very important. You're helping people that are literally one bad moment away from becoming homeless and going down, like you keep saying the spiral of decline, which could lead to drug abuse, it could lead to exploitation of all sorts. And so the fact that this fund is here makes our community better. It's been around for three years. How in the world did you wake up one day, and you're driving in your patrol car, and you decide, you know, what I need to do today? I need to start a fund that's going to help people in those circumstances, how do you do it?

Marc deClaire:

It's built out of a lot of frustration, trying to assist people, and not having the financial support to do it. So we keep come across all these situations where people are in need of some services. And we just, we weren't able to do it. It's called the walkaway. You know, these people were they're not committing any crimes. There's nothing that we can do to help they're in this void. I hate that word. Or words, doing the walkaway. Yeah. If we just had the financial support, just won't you know, one night I was in the middle of night, I think God said something, you know, gave me this thought in the middle of the night, and said, You're going to start on social media and be loud. So I woke up, I can't remember everything. I mean, so I mean, you can't Yeah, so So I wrote it down, because they didn't want to forget it. Because I know that was done a month on to something. Sure. So the very next day, which was August 1 2019, I created a Facebook page, and I named it the Kupo. Human fund. It just started getting a lot of attention really quick. And the Putnam County Commissioners they nominated me for the Citizen of the Month. And so I made the front page of the paper. Nice. Yeah. That was great, great

Kosta Yepifantsev:

publicity, especially for trying to get something like this off the ground.

Marc deClaire:

Yes. And so that helped a lot on getting off the ground. So it started to gain a lot of traction. Now, at first, it wasn't a 501 C three, but I had some conversations with archief. I thought it was in the best interest to make it a nonprofit. So we have that transparency. But yeah, and to go back on the creation of it built out a lot of frustration.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

How much funding do you guys receive each year?

Marc deClaire:

I would say probably around eight to 10,000 at the moment. Okay. I think maybe when this podcast airs, maybe I'll get more funding. Yeah, for sure. There's one thing I'd like to add. Since this is 100%. Community funded, I'd like to see more of our religious organizations come on board, because I've often heard them say, how can we bridge the gap between the community and us? Me that being the churches, what have you? I think my mission is right. On those lines. Yeah. Because like I said, before, we're on the front lines, we're in touch with the community 24/7. So what better way than to donate to the couple of human funds?

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I am curious, like, if you had your magic number of how much money you wish to cook for human fund operated with annually, what would that number be just the amount because you've done it for three years? So you've probably encountered quite a few people in situations that you can't help because you don't have the financial means to help? How much money do you think you need to really effectively achieve your goals?

Marc deClaire:

Well, I think as time goes on, the number needs to increase. And I'd say as a number right now, just to have that real comfort zone, I'd like to say $50,000. And that's realistic.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I think we could get there. There's a lot of people who may you know, consider like social issues to be important. Me personally, I believe that every problem and every circumstances, all economics, I want to try to affect positive change through improving economic conditions. So we always like to end the show on a high note. Who is someone that makes you better when you're together?

Marc deClaire:

Oh, that's an easy one. My wife Tanya declare, she is. She's my rock. She's always encouraged me. You know, since day one when I want to be become a police officer. I mean and she was so helpful getting me through the police academy being very supportive. And then you know having children she is a fantastic mother and she has done nothing but be supportive of the human farm.

Morgan Franklin:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev. If you've enjoyed listening and you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. Leave us a review or better yet, share this episode with a friend. Better Together with Kosta Yepifantsev is a Kosta Yepifantsev Production. Today's episode was written and produced by Morgan Franklin post production mixing and editing by Mike Franklin. Want to know more about Kosta visit us at kostayepifantsev.com We're better together.