Retired New Haven officer collecting 300 bikes for children in St. Maarten

New Haven

Patricia Helliger spent more than two decades as a tough as nails New Haven policewoman.

In 2016, she made history as the first black female police captain.  

“I enjoyed being a police officer,” said Helliger. “It’s actually the best job I ever had.”

Now, she’s taking on a new role by trying to collect up to 300 bikes for children in her native of St. Maarten. The effort was born out of tragedy, Hurricane Irma. That’s the Category 5 storm that ravaged much of the Caribbean in 2017.

“I don’t think that people really paid attention to the trauma that these children have been through,” she explained.  

Related Content: New Haven woman speaks about being rescued after being stranded in St. Maarten during Irma

Helliger’s beloved mother died in the storm, spurring her into action.

“Losing her was so, it was very devastating for me. But it also motivated me to the point where I said I need to do something.”

Several bicycle shops have signed on to help restore the bikes, and a shipping firm offered to get them to St. Maarten for free. Helliger said the only thing missing is your help.

“I know the community can help me. I know that we can do this because we have to look out, not just for our children here, but worldwide,” Helliger concluded.

If you want to help, email Helliger at

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