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FEEA update: Disaster budget ‘completely blown,’ donations needed

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The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund just responded to some questions I had about the state of their disaster relief finances, and the outlook is not good.

“At this point, our natural disaster budget is completely blown,” said Robyn Kehoe, FEEA’s director of field operations said in an e-mail. Later this week, FEEA will have $35,000 on hand to start distributing, thanks to an end-of-year donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield it expects to receive this week. But $35,000 doesn’t go very far — it’s only enough to pay for $500 grants for 70 feds. FEEA will need additional donations to keep distributing funds after Blue Cross’ $35,000 runs out, Kehoe said.

“The $35,000 from BCBS is huge for us in making sure we can at least start handing out grants for Sandy,” Kehoe said.

After Hurricane Isaac struck in August, FEEA handed out more than $80,000 in grants and no-interest loans to nearly 600 feds. That chewed through all of the disaster funds FEEA had on hand.

But FEEA’s natural disaster funds haven’t had any reserves to draw on since 2007′s Hurricane Gustav, Kehoe said. That year, FEEA paid out roughy $800,000 more than it took in.

FEEA will also provide no-interest loans of up to $1,000 to Hurricane Sandy victims, Kehoe said.

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FEEA: Sandy-affected feds can get up to $500 in disaster grants

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Federal and postal employees who are hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy will be able to get disaster grants of up to $500, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund announced this morning.

FEEA said employees who need help can download a disaster relief application here, since phone lines will likely be jammed or down. Feds who have suffered the most serious damage or hardships will get priority, FEEA said.

FEEA is a nonprofit organization funded in part by Combined Federal Campaign donations. But the group said its funds have been depleted significantly since it provided more than $80,000 in grants and no-interest loans to almost 600 feds after Hurricane Issac, and it is soliciting more donations.

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Public Service Recognition Week: Tom Burger

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Tom Burger has spent his life dedicated to public service. Burger said it started with  President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961, when Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

“That stimulated me to look into public service,” Burger said.

As a young man, Burger served as a Marine in the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive of 1968. After he left the Marines, Burger was still looking to serve. He turned to the federal government.

Burger looked into working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Internal Revenue Service, but he ended up at the IRS, where he worked for 37 years. Burger rose to the rank of director of the employment tax. Working for the IRS, Burger helped ensure that the majority of the money that funds the federal government was collected. He was responsible for determining whether citizens received W-2 or 1099 tax forms.

“Basically are you an employee or independent contractor?” Burger said,  ”It’s the IRS’s job is to ensure that everybody pays their fair share – no more, no less.”

Even though Burger is retired, you wouldn’t guess it. He’s the executive director of the Professional Managers Association and the treasurer of the Federal Employees Education Fund.

Listen to Burger’s views on public service.

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