Denver police officers help their biggest supporter

DENVER -- Everyone at the Denver Police Department knows Marsha Berger, but they had no idea she was struggling to pay her bills because of the skyrocketing cost of rent.

The 80-year-old has been an ardent supporter of the department for 21 years.

"We all know Marsha. Marsha knows most of us. There’s officers I don’t know, but Marsha knows them," officer Jeremy Ownbey said.

Berger has gone out of her way to show her love and support to the officers, at all hours of the day and night.

"She’s at every promotion ceremony, every retirement ceremony, every award ceremony, and you just learn who she is and is a staple in the department," former officer Steve Warneke said.

"When people ask her about her family she says she has over 1,450 children and I’m busy taking care of all of them. She’s part of this family, can’t think of anyone else in the community who has given so much.

"It didn’t matter if it was 0 degrees, getting ready to do out crowd outside Coors Field, Marsha was there with candy and oranges at two in the morning."

Recently, she told a few officers about her struggles.

"I found out a few weeks ago Marsha needed help," Ownbey said. "She told me she was going to get a job. She has a job, taking care of all of us.

"It bothered me because I wanted to do something to help Marsha, but I know she takes great pride giving to us and not expecting anything in return."

Berger is a very private person and didn't want to ask for help. She said she was thinking of taking a job as an Uber driver.

But that wasn't sitting well with the officers who have come to know and love her.

Det. Mark Matthews created an avenue for other officers and the community to help Berger.

"We set up a GoFundMe account. It really took off," he said. "We put up a little picture of her and a short story and within a couple of days it skyrocketed, just fantastic. Turns out she needs every bit of it no matter if she wants the help or not."

The support quickly poured in from other officers, retired officers and people in the community. Berger said it put her mind at ease.

"I didn’t think I could think more of them, but it’s just incredible," she said. "They are really the last ones I wanted to help me. I wanted it to be a one way thing. I was thanking them on behalf of the community.

"I’m just so grateful I was able to do what I did, not expecting a thing ever back. I always said it’s a one-way deal. It's overwhelming, changed my life forever."

The officers know how much it means to Berger.

"It was touching, she emailed me the day after it had grown so much," Ownbey said. "She said she had slept nine hours ... no wait, her first email was she first found out ... she didn’t know if she should slug me or hug me. She forgive me."

They say she deserves it for all the support she has shown to them over the years.

"This is why we sign up for this job to help people. We were able to do it for someone who has given so much for so many years," Warneke said.