Lisa Norwood knows how important HERO is. At about 12:20 p.m. Dec. 14, 2007, a car struck and killed her husband while he was cleaning debris from Sabo Street near Almeda Mall. Harold Norwood, 44, was a Houston Public Works employee.

Three days later, members of the HERO Board of Directors showed up at her door. They offered her shoulders to cry on and steady guidance navigating bureaucratic waters during that traumatic time. But they wanted to do more. Although the City of Houston provides for burial expenses, HERO immediately donated $2,000 to her for other incidental expenses she might need.

After things settled down, the HERO Benefits Committee reviewed her financial condition and made a recommendation to the board that was approved. HERO then provided Lisa with additional funds to help relieve her financial burden.

They couldn't bring her husband back, but their actions parted the clouds enough to help her get through the hard days and insured that her dignity was preserved.

"HERO is the best thing they could have done for city employees," Norwood said. "When you're going through something like that, you need someone there to help you. You're not thinking clearly about what you need to do. So, having that help meant so much to me.

HERO contributions helped Lisa pay for immediate needs and to pay off debts. The financial burden created by her husband's death.

"I can't imagine what it would have been like to not have HERO there to help me."