Mother of Fallen Firefighter attacks 100 Club - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Mother of Fallen Firefighter attacks 100 Club

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Sabina Bebee's son Robert was among the four first responders who would not emerge from the lethal May 31st Southwest Inn Fire.

"When I went the hotel the day after it happened and I saw it, I said gosh baby who goes into a fire?," recalls Sabina, her voice choked with emotion.

The deaths would draw an unprecedented outpouring of monetary support from grateful Houston area citizens anguished over the loss and eager to aid.

Much of that cash poured into the well regarded charity known as the 100 Club.

"We had three TV stations ask us to do telethons and we said no because we didn't think it would be appropriate, to look like we were being greedy and hoarding money," said Rick Hartley, Executive Director of the 100 Club.

But "greedy hoarding" is exactly what Hartley's 60 year old organization is being accused of by the mother of a dead hero.

"We are all hurting, but they saw a silver lining with that and they kept lining their coffers with money," said Bebee.

Bebee contends the 100 Club purposely kept quiet about dispersal policies which restrict payments to the spouses and children of firefighters killed or catastrophically wounded.

It wasn't until weeks after the fire that it became clear to the giving public that none of those killed would be entitled to fully benefit because all were single and childless.

And while the subsequent outcry persuaded the 100 Club to bend it's rules and offer survivors more aid, it's done little to ease Bebee's bitterness.

"Morally they were wrong and just trying to fix it up now is not going to make it go away. If you rob a bank and take the money back and go, here's the money, you are still a bank robber that doesn't change. Deception is deception," said Bebee.

The controversy has sparked a serious "review" by the Better Business Bureau which has labeled "misleading" the 100 Club's post tragedy solicitations which include pictures of the fallen.

 

"I think a lot of people got behind this very quickly and gave to the 100 Club without realizing that money wasn't actually going to who they thought it was," said Jayne Ann Ammar, philanthropy review manager for the BBB in Houston.

Sabina Bebee believes the 100 Club's sin was in it's silence.

"Just staying quiet does not mean you're not lying. You are still lying," said Bebee.

 

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