Sunday, May 27, 2012

Damaging Comments

Every so often, after posting links on FB to purchase the 9/11 Patches and other fund raising items, someone will make a damaging post suggesting this project exploits the heroes of 9/11. These folks don't bother to visit the website to do their homework first--they just decide on the spot that someone is making money off the blood of our 9/11 heroes. They couldn't be father from the truth!

This project, run by a Firefighter for over 10 years, is actually endorsed by the FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Assoc. and has raised money for three 9/11 Charities over the years, selling these items. Just ask any of the FDNY Firefighters from the Fire & Ice Hockey Team how they feel about wearing the 9/11 Patch.

A simple visit to the website and some quick navigation, people would see that on the DONATIONS page, the charities that we donate to our listed--there are copies of some of the checks we have sent over the years--and there are even thank you letters that came to us from the organizations we donated to. We are even a registered non-profit and reference that several times on different web pages.

If folks really understood all that has gone into keeping this project alive and running these past 10 years they would realize that the founder has actually lost his own money by putting in $75,000 over the ears, when it was necessary to keep it going.

And for four months in 2002 when the project started, the founder filled orders for 4 months straight--selling one $3 patch (at the time) to raise over $15,000. That money raised was donated to the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association exactly 1 year form the tragic events of 9/11. How long does it take to raise $15,000 selling $3 patches--patches that cost nearly $2 to make?

True, there are unscrupulous people out there profiting off the events of 9/11--no doubt. But this is definitely not one of them. The project founder has gone to great lengths to provide full transparency about this fund raising and remembrance project--but if you can't take a moment to make a visit to the website and see this, you should absolutely be ashamed of yourself for making any unfounded and damaging comments about this project. Thank God there are folks that know we have been teamed up with NeverForget911 for 3 years and will step in when these comments are made and defend our organization.

Selling the patches, decals and other merchandise to raise funds has always been a difficult challenge. We have to pay vendors for these items and are always chasing inventory to keep items in stock. Hours are spent filling orders--many for a single patch or decal--and when we are down to 1 or 2  of a specific item , we have to order hundreds to keep the costs down.

That is why we recently teamed up with Firehouse Expo to bring the Fully Involved Comedy Tour to 3 nationwide Fire & EMS Expos. These large fund raising events will allow us to bring in more funds to these organizations. Last year with our 10yr 9/11 Anniversary Manhattan to Manhattan Tour, we brought in $6300 each, for the NYC Bravest Scholarship Fund, the Terry Farrell Fund and the Feal Good Foundation.

So if after reading this you want to help, please visit the website and look around at the different ways you can contribute to our goals of remembering the heroes of 9/11 while raising funds for 9/11 related charities.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Take Action--I Double Dare You!

Orange City Firefighter, NJ
There was no whining--no bureaucratic road blocks--no hesitation whatsoever when the Orange Fire Department in New Jersey received a flyer from the 9/11 Patch Project asking for their department's participation back in 2002. They had just lost 343 of their brother FDNY firefighters months earlier, and honoring their memory made perfect sense. The fact the project was created by another fellow firefighter and was also a fund raiser--was a no brainer to them. This picture is of an Orange City Firefighter from New Jersey. The Original 9/11 Patch can be seen on the firefighters turnout coat--worn from years of firefighting but none-the-less it is still there representing how Orange Firefighters remember their fallen 343 brothers of the FDNY.

There are thousands of organizations around the world who have made one of the four 9/11 Tribute Patches a permanent part of the uniform, job-shirts, jackets or turnouts. But it has not been easy. What are the road blocks? Why is getting one of these patches from the only project of it's kind  (honoring the memory of our fallen 9/11 heroes) on every departments gear such a task?

Having worked as a firefighter/paramedic and union president in a fire department on the west coast for over 20 years, I have seen the mentality of some organizations out there but don't get it. It has really been about getting everyone on the same page or even getting the issue put to vote. Even the size of the department is not always the issue--its really about who is in charge in the union and the department itself. If the leaders aren't on board for whatever reason, then the rank and file can be left out of the entire process.

To help that decision to come on board with the 9/11 Patch Project as easy as possible, the project has even gone to great lengths to create as much transparency as possible on the website. The project even received an endorsement from the FDNY's Uniformed Fire Officers Association and has donated many 10's of thousands over the years to 9/11 related charities. And as a registered non profit, this worldwide effort to unite firefighters and place a permanent tribute on all uniforms, should have been a no brainer from the start.

LTJG Everett Alcorn- U.S. Navy
Too many folks are looking for a controversy where there is none and using any reason they can think of to opt out of something that may take a bit of effort but may end up being one of the best projects they had ever participated in. Still the patches can be seen on the uniforms of firefighters around the world and even deployed U.S. Soldiers.

So what did one of the largest Fire Departments in the nation do when I approached their union leader during the 10 Year Anniversary of 9/11? He was from Chicago Fire Department. He returned my call within 20 minutes--said he'd welcome our 9/11 Bus tour into their training center--called out his people to meet us--allowed us to present the project and even had the Fire Commissioner there to approve the 9/11 Patch for all FD job-shirts. This man is a leader and can make a decision!!Had he said no, I would have at least respected the fact he was willing to take my call and then make a decision.

There are emails, newsletters and even flyers that have been sent out to all U.S. departments at least twice over the past 10 years. Many were discarded as "junk mail" and members of many departments never even saw info on the project when it was killed at the union president or chief level.Why? Shrug it off to general laziness or the suspicious nature of firefighters.

Here's a news flash: This project is not a money maker for project founder Brett Hill! I have even put over $75,000 of my own money into this project over the years to keep it going. This has contributed to my own financial hardships and put a strain on my family of 5, one of which is my daughter with special needs. Am I whining? Not at all...just putting it all in perspective and just looking for folks to standup and be counted or sit down and say "NO."I keep this project running as I believe it is my calling and the right thing to do. I also do this as years ago when I heard the words, "Please Don't Forget Us," relayed to me from an LAFD firefighter, I made a promise right there to NEVER FORGET.

So if you receive and email from the 9/11 Patch Project in the future, have the guts to act on it and not hide behind the fact you can just ignore it. You may not believe that we should have a uniformed tribute to remember the heroes of 9/11--you may just believe it's time to move on and forget. But have the balls to respond either way.

If you believe in what the project has done over the past 10 years, then please take action! Visit the website and learn more HERE.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Comedian Ralphie May Comes to Baltimore to Benefit 9/11 Charities

Ralphie May- Headliner
Comedy Central sensation and one of the top new comedians to watch, Ralphie May, will star with Rescue Me's Mike "Probie" Lombardi, in a night of comedy and rock that will raise funds for (4) 9/11 related charities.

The "Fully Involved Comedy/Rock Tour," event is co-produced by Firehouse Expo and the 9/11 Patch Project and will be at the Baltimore Convention Center on July 19th, with doors opening at 6:30p. Also, Mike Lombardi will be the host and his band will also play during the evening. Click HERE to listen to a message from Mike about the event.

This special fund raising event will benefit the NYC Bravest Scholarship Fund, the Terry Farrell Fund, the Feal Good Foundation and the 9/11 Patch Project Fund.

This event is Baltimore is also open to the public and we'd like to invite all folks who will be in the Baltimore area or attending the Firehouse Expo to come out and be part of this great night with us!

Table sponsorships and other sponsor opportunities are available by contacting our Rob Kaiser (Dir. of Events and Marketing for the 9/11 Patch Project).