Heroes Behind The Masks: Heroes Alliance

It has been exciting to learn about groups throughout the United States and this weeks feature is from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains.  I am sure they soon reach to the Pacific Coast!  Before the take over the US with the awesome check out this interview!  –Mala

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Group Name: Heroes Alliance

Mission Statement: The Heroes Alliance is a non-profit group dedicated to serving our communities through our costuming, commitment, and dedication to service by providing a “real life” superhero experience to children in need.

Location(s): We currently have branches in a dozen other regions, including:
Central Ohio, Northern Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, North Florida, Central Florida-East, Central Florida-West, Colorado, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Missouri

When was the group started? And by who?
The group was founded in Tampa, Florida in 2005 as a small costume club. Many of the original founders have come and gone but the group has had a formally elected council structure since 2010.
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Brief history/overview: There are many great organizations out there that use their costume skills for charity serving their community. We wanted to build a national team with regional branches all over the US that provided quality superheroes to support children’s charities, serve children in need, and promote awareness of great causes. Additionally, we wanted our theme to be one specifically of Marvel and DC Comics superheroes—as there are already great groups that cover other genres and themes like Star Wars and Disney Princesses.

Do you have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status or other designation? If not, do you consider yourself a charity group or just a group of friend who do good? And are you looking into getting a 501(c)3 status?
We do not have a 501c status and are not seeking one at this time. As we are not a group that handles money in any way, we do not have a need to go through such formal and complex procedures. Our leadership simply evaluates each request for its charitable value, partners with a group or community representative, then sends out a team of superheroes to attend and support the event.

How can someone join Heroes Alliance? Or is there a website people can go to search for a local chapter?
Go to http://www.heroesalliance.org. You’ll find the membership application, charter, and Standard Operating Procedure links under the ‘Join Us’ section.
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What type of costumes do you accept? Do you have a costume approval process, if so what is it? What do you look for in a costume?
Our guidelines and standards are detailed in the Standard Operating Procedures. Only Marvel and DC Comics superheroes are acceptable at our events. Costumes are approved and evaluated for quality and accuracy by the individual branch leader.

Do you accept crossplay costumes? Gender bent costumes? Customized characters?
Those alternate interpretations are strictly prohibited. Our theme and mission is to bring a “real life” superhero experience to children. It’s our hope that a young child in a hospital will truly believe that Spider-Man visited his room or that the disabled child at the charity walk will feel like he met the real Wonder Woman. While our members can and do wear genderbent or customized versions of canon characters at conventions or on their own time, we ask that they consider our mission and theme when choosing characters for work with the Heroes Alliance.
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Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
Our branch leaders will be more than happy to provide links to tutorial forums, video guides, or other online resources for anyone who might be interested. However, it’s typically up to the individual volunteer to make, purchase, or commission a quality superhero costume to wear upon joining the group.

How many people are currently in your group?
While the webmaster might have a better handle on the national membership, we have 14 branches that each have different amounts of volunteers and different status of membership. It’s probably safe to say that, on average, a branch will probably have 10 to 15 members but long-established branches will typically have more.
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How is the leadership determined?
Branch leaders are appointed by the council after a lengthy process of chartering new branches. Elections are held annually at the end of every year to determine the national council.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
Our mission format is almost always one of partnership with other charities. Thus, we will either reach out or accept invitations from children’s charities or community service organizations for formal events.

How did you build you “clientele”?
Often times, branch leaders will reach out via email or phone to prospective charities that fit with our mission. Beyond that, our group might do recruiting at local comic conventions or other such events to find superhero costume volunteers who might be interested.
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Do you have particular organization(s) or cause(s) you work with regularity?
Each branch is different. In addition to hospitals, many branches tend to work with Autism Speaks, Make-a-Wish, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for their 5k Superhero Runs.

What is the most amazing thing Heroes Alliance has accomplished so far?
The success of the 2010 reorganizing of the group’s leadership structure has meant that our group is more stable, official, and provides a framework that allows for impressive (yet responsible) expansion. We believe that this is the paramount reason as to why we currently have 14 different branches across the Continental United States.
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Where do you see Heroes Alliance going in the future?
We’d love to someday see the Heroes Alliance mirror the 501st in size and location. The men and women of that organization really set the bar for what a costumed charity can do with dedication, hard work, and a solid structure. If there were HA branches in all 50 states and every major metropolitan area serving their community, we’d be very pleased.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically for Heroes Alliance?
Well, we are a team of superheroes! So, much like the Avengers and Justice League, we have “active” and “reserve” rosters of heroes, every event is a “mission,” and we always use code names in the field. No one should be calling Captain America “Bob,” or Batgirl “Sally,” right?
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Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
We applaud anyone willing to build a costume, reach out to those in need, and go out to spend their own precious time and resources to help others. While we’d love to see our own group expand, we understand that the Heroes Alliance may not be the best fit. We hope anyone inspired by our group does the research and finds an organization that’s best for them. If not, go out and start one!

What future events do you have?
Our events are typically self-contained or private. Though the charities we partner with will often hold events open to the public, we normally don’t advertise where our heroes will appear. But, rest assured, you’ll see our branches doing work in communities all over the country! You can follow us on the website or on social media—we have a Facebook page and a Tumblr where events are posted and uploaded.

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Facebook: Yes
Website: www.heroesalliance.org
Tumblr: Yes
Email: Submitted via HA website

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