Robert J. O’Shaughnessy
Captain CT State Police (ret.)
William “Bill” Sydenham of Mystic has been providing safety nets for people for most of his working life—first as an air-traffic controller in the United States Army, then as a Connecticut State Trooper, and now as Executive Director of the Hundred Club of Connecticut.
After 25 years of service in the Connecticut State Police, Bill retired as a lieutenant and went on to lead the Hundred Club—the “Club with a Heart.” Bill explains that The Hundred Club of Connecticut is a charitable, non-profit, tax-exempt organization of more than 2,400 citizens from all parts of the state and from all walks of life who are committed to the task of easing the financial burdens of the surviving spouse and children of police officers, volunteer and paid firefighters, and correction officers who have given their lives in the performance of their duties.
The charter is straightforward, stating, “We care for our public servants. We recognize their supreme sacrifice and we are morally bound to care for those who have given their all for us.”
Since the founding of the Club in 1,967, 238 of our brave public servants have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. The state club is the most unique and prestigious organization of its kind; there are other Hundred Clubs throughout the country, but most of them cover a city, county, or a combination of both. Connecticut’s statewide organization reaches all firefighters (paid and volunteer); police officers (state, city, town and borough); and correction officers.
During its 45 years of existence, the Club has aided the families of 98 police officers, 133 firefighters, and seven correction officers who made the supreme sacrifice. Gifts totaling over $9,400,000 have been made to these families.
The paperwork is minimal. When a line-of-duty death occurs, the spouse/family is given an initial grant of $10,000. Bill maintains frequent follow-up with the family regarding financial needs. The club provides computers to children as well as educational scholarships to colleges and vocational schools. More than 145 children and surviving spouses have taken advantage of this scholarship, which has become the pride of the club. Also, a special assistance program provides for medical, dental, and other services the family might need.
The founder of the Hundred Club was Anthony Ustjanauskas who came to America in 1950 and settled in Hartford. “Mr. A”, as he was known, and his wife, Ada, owned and operated International Supermarkets on Park Street and Franklin Avenue.
Mr. A and Ada were widely known humanitarians, whose hearts were touched by after reading an inspiring account of the Hundred Club movement in a national magazine. Less than a month later, while Anthony Ustjanauskas was in the process of organizing the “Club with a Heart,” Hartford Police Officer Harvey Young was gunned down by a criminal suspect he was trying to arrest on a rain-swept street.
Ustjanauskas presented Officer Young’s widow with the Hundred Club’s first line-of-duty death payment—Mr. A paid the $1,000 out of his own pocket because the club had yet to enroll its first dues-paying member. In 1967 the founders established a $250 annual dues from its members to support its programs and it remains an individual, personal commitment: there are no corporate, business or premium memberships, no fundraisers, no government monies. All these years later, the individual dues remain at $250.
The membership has steadily grown to its present level and the programs and services are evolving as new family needs are identified. Club members are proud of their association with this outstanding charity. Persons interested in more information about the Hundred Club can go to their web site at www.hundredclubofct.org.
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