Financials and all other information removed from Guidestar. What are they trying to hide? That they spent more in travel than helping others? (Conventions are manned by volunteers who live in the convention city.)
990s, however, can be found at 990s.foundationcenter.org.
Most updated financials (2012-13):
$286,186 collected/donated (some interest from investments)
$32,218 granted or donated to creators in need
$67,000 paid to Mr. McLauchlin, one of two paid employees
$43,000 paid to the other paid employee
$31,414 in travel expenses
$8,000 loan to an employee, member of the board, trustee, or officer
Staff salary total is 3x the amount actually given to or loaned to those in need.
Travel expenses nearly equals the amount given to those in need.
Question: How do I get a job at Hero Initiative? I'd truly enjoy getting paid to attend cons, stay in nice hotels, and have my meals paid for, too.
On their site, there is no IRS tax return information available nor any year end analysis to tell you what they have done in the previous year Why would you donate when you do not know where the money is going?
This is not so much a reply or a review as it is a testimonial - from a working artist who literally owes his current existence to the Hero Initiative.
My name is Tom Ziuko - and I've been a professional freelance artist working in the comics industry for over thirty years now, working for the companies you know - Marvel, DC, etc. My love of comics as a child led to an incredible career as an adult - with one major setback. There is no health insurance for freelance artists. Like most people in the prime of life, this was never a problem for me in my 20's, 30's, and 40's - but since I reached my 50's I've found myself dealing with one major health crisis after another.
A few years ago I was hospitalized with kidney failure. I spent three months being treated in the hospital for this disease; unable to return to work, and unable to earn any income. While hospitalized, and during my recuperation, when I was unable to support myself, the Hero Initiative made sure that my rent and my bills were paid. At first I didn't even know the Hero Initiative existed - when word of my hospitalization was made public, someone made them aware of my financial plight, and they came to my aid - covering every single expense that I was unable to pay.
The Hero Initiative was there for me right from the start -- even while I was still in the hospital receiving treatment - to help me pay back rent, and to cover my outstanding bills and utilities. And after my release, while I was still bedridden at home and unable to return to work, or even sit at my computer work station for more than a few hours a week, they continued to assist me in paying my rent, covering my monthly bills and living expenses -- literally keeping a roof over my head and food on the table.
Then less than a year after getting back on my feet, I had to have emergency surgery to save my colon. Thankfully, I survived this ordeal intact -- and once again, the Hero Initiative was there to support me financially during my hospitalization and subsequent recovery - they literally saved me from becoming homeless, which I surely would have been without their assistance.
Because in the last few years I've also developed two major ongoing health issues - neuropathy in my feet and legs, which is incredibly painful, and prevents me from standing for any length of time or walking even short distances; and Afib - a heart condition which causes my heart to beat too fast, and also out of rhythm, and has led to congestive heart failure more than once. This condition has required additional hospital procedures and recuperation periods, which of course has also meant time away from earning my living as a freelance colorist.
And who has been there, once again, each and every time, to come to my rescue and help me out financially? You know it -- the incredible people who do the good work of the Hero Initiative. And as a freelancer, you often have to hustle for new work, and sometimes there are down times between new assignments -- and on the occasion when I couldn't cover the rent and the bills those months, I turned to the Hero Initiative and asked for a loan that I could repay -- and once again they came through for me, no questions asked.
And recently I've found myself in the hospital and the ICU, again dealing with Afib and congestive heart failure - which means I'm unable to work and generate income - and of course the Initiative is here for me, helping me - with my rent, my utilities, and my day to day living expenses.
Honestly, I often feel guilty about how much the Hero Initiative has done for me personally. You have to understand something about me -- I am loathe to ask for a handout, or help from strangers. I've never so much as applied for unemployment insurance during my career, even during the lean times that come with being a freelancer. But these health issues have been overwhelming - I can't impress upon you enough how frightening it is to actually come up against a life threatening medical situation, and not have the financial means or savings to survive if you're suddenly not able to earn a living. And like so many other freelancers out there, I live paycheck to paycheck. Without an organization like the Hero Initiative to lend me support in these times of dire need, I truly don't know where I would be today.
Mere words can never express the gratitude I feel for the Hero Initiative—I can't overemphasize the amazing work they do, providing assistance to people like myself -- freelancers in the comicbook industry, who for one reason or another have fallen upon hard times, or are dealing with financial issues and health concerns. So I urge you to please contribute in any way you can to the Hero Initiative. So they can continue to come to the aid of artists and creators in the comics industry that are in need of assistance. Some of us need help from time to time -- to cover medical expenses, to pay the bills, or to just survive; and I'm so thankful that the Hero Initiative was created, and has been here to help me and others when we've needed them.
If you've ever been entertained by reading a comicbook, please remember that they don't just fall out of the sky as a finished product -- they're written, drawn. lettered and colored by real people -- most often freelancers, who may not be able to afford health insurance, or on occasion to cover their expenses and make ends meet. If these people have ever brought you thrills, adventure, and entertainment -- perhaps over the course of your childhood and into your adult years -- then I urge you to give something back to them and make a donation to the Hero Initiative. Better than even Superman rescuing someone falling from a burning building, the board members of the Hero Initiative are true real-life superheroes -- saving the lives of real people in real need in the real world. Please give what you can to help them continue to help us. Be a real-life superhero yourself -- the life you save may be a comicbook creator.
Review from Guidestar
The comic book and comic strip industries have had a long history of treating its writers and artists quite poorly. And, honestly, I don't think that things have changed that much since the beginning of comics. Thankfully, we have the Hero Initiative to help those creators in need... because not many others will help.
The Hero Initiative is a worthwhile organization, and I am always pleased to contribute my time and efforts to such an amazing charity.
Review from Guidestar
My first experience dealing with the Hero Initiative was at Christmas in 2008 and it was, quite literally, life-changing. Homeless, jobless and under a burden of extreme debt because of it--they were willing to help me when no one else could or would. And it started with a simple e-mail asking for help, that took me excruciating hours to write. The staff was patient, thoughtful, thorough and quick in helping me, though, after they heard the story of my experience in the comic book industry they're serving and how it lead to that point in my life.
Through the next year and a half, to my surprise, the Hero Initiative helped me with it all. I was working again, free of debt and was even able to finally move back into an apartment by the end of that time. Most importantly, though, they helped give me a renewed sense of self and a reason to trust people again in an industry that's quick to turn the other way at another's misfortune.
There is one thing I didn't expect to happen, though, when I wrote that e-mail in 2008. That in the years that followed they'd plant the seed in me to also volunteer as much help as I can to such a great cause. I got to know Jim McLauchlin and the various Hero Initiative volunteers and, through them, other organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project. I became involved in helping other comic-industry peers and learned about the plight of many more, not known to the public-at-large. Some tragic. None ignored by the Hero Initiative. I couldn't think about doing anything less.
In an industry and a culture in our country that cultivates the ideals of "whatever it takes to get ahead" and "as long as I got mine..", it feels good to lend that helping hand as selflessly as the one handed to me, and Jim McLauchlin and the whole Hero Initiative organization deserve all the thanks for that.
I'm not sure even where to start. A previous review here is horribly misleading to everyone who may come across this review site. I have to wonder what his motives are. My name is Tanya Horie and I'm a comic professional who has received so much help and support from Hero Initiative. They have helped with medical bills when we lost our insurance. I have very serious health issues and can't be without insurance and medical services, they put food on out table literally when we couldn't afford to buy any and so much more. Perhaps some information is not made public because it involves very private things like HIPPA laws. I'm so thankful that Hero Initiative exists. I'm not sure we would still have a place to live if not for their stepping in when they did.
Just a thought on the single one star reviewer. As a 20 plus year attendee as a professional to comic con in question SDCC. It seems rather strange to me that the reviewer there thinks it's so easy to get hotel rooms there. That everyone including small exhibitors like Hero Initiative would be able to readily make reservations at just any hotel they would choose. Anyone who has attended SDCC in the last 12 years or so would know that hotel rooms are extremely hard to get and Travel Planners pretty much tells people where they are going to stay and sets the convention rates which are not rack rates. Many pros couldn't even get hotel rooms this year because they sold out in two minutes and fifteen or so seconds. If this guy stayed at the Marriott as he claims he would have likely paid well over $600 per night if booked direct. I checked because we couldn't get a room through Travel Planners this year. I didn't end up going for personal reasons. My husband had to Airbnb a room
I've been a supporter of Hero Initiative from the start, but it never occurred to me that I might one day be a beneficiary. When I was hospitalized last year and unable to work for two months, a friend who had been helped in a similar situation suggested I contact Jim McLaughlin. Hero Initiative stepped in to pay my rent and offered further support if needed, including medical and legal consultation. One phone call, no hassles, no embarrassment, just good people ready and willing to help out.
We work in an industry which casts its veterans aside long before their productive years are over. Hero Initiative is one organization that never turns its back on folks in need. You don't read about it often because most people are reluctant to admit they've accepted charity, but Hero Initiative is here to help with or without public acknowledgement.
Unfortunately, information in a previous review is inaccurate.
No one ever stayed at the Hotel del Coronado. Christina Joyce did stay at a hotel on Corando Island, but it was MUCH cheaper than the rates quoted in that review, and even included a complimentary water taxi to get to the convention center.
Both my hours (Jim McLauchlin's) and Christina Joyce's average 50 hours week.
Our fiscal year end 30 JUN, and Forms 990 are submitted annually based on that f/y/e. There's always, alas, lag time in Guidestar and related organizations posting that information.
I have been a volunteer for the Hero Initiative for over ten years in Northern California. The fact is that Hero has helped many veteran comic book creators in need, from a bag of groceries and some money for rent and bills to help with major medical bills and helping creators with a new place to live after being found homeless. There's no doubt that this charity is VERY targeted. Donations are solicited mostly at comic book conventions and stores. I have never seen any reason NOT to support what the charity does.
I am a life-long comic book reader. I immediately saw the need to help the veterans of the comic book industry be able to retain their dignity when the industry failed them. The current popularity of superheroes in popular culture was built on their backs, with their sweat and tears, yet they saw none of the fruits of their labor after the work was done, even as it made Millions for comic book companies. Hero Initiative gives them a chance to retain the basics of living, help them through otherwise catastrophic illness, and in many cases get them back on the path to making a living, even if it isn't in the entertainment industry.
My volunteerism is mainly in the form of soliciting donations at comic book conventions. It can be a mighty challenge when surrounded by the bright colors and loud noises of a rollicking convention floor, with competition from every other book trying to get the convention-goers attention. When I am able to give the message about what Hero Initiative does and why it is needed, the look of understanding on the fans' faces makes it all worth it. They realize that we are in the "temple" of men and women who see none of the MILLIONS of dollars made off their backs, while some of them are in need.
I would urge those who are curious to go to Hero's website and see for themselves some of the creators Hero has helped. After reading the review from a public person who couldn't stomach that someone would want to stay at a nice hotel, or that the head of a charity would dare to make a relatively low salary for the work involved (which is more than 10 hours a week), or pay one part-time employee for their work, I had to chime in with my own experience. I have no reason to believe that Hero doesn't use their funds effectively. If I did, I wouldn't spend several of my weekends a year volunteering for them and I certainly wouldn't give them MY money, which I do.
Thank you for your time,