Sunday, May 26, 2013

Four Words & 12 Years

We met for a brief moment at a local Starbucks in Valencia, California- one month after the tragic events of 9/11/01. Steve Berkery was assigned to LAFD USAR Task Force and had just returned from a tour of duty at Ground Zero, Manhattan. I asked him what moved him the most and he told me it was one FDNY Firefighter's four words, "Please don't forget us."

These four words led me to attempt something that has never been done--design a tribute patch and try and get all firefighters to add it to their uniforms. The 9/11 Patch Project was born and the attempt to notify and get all fire departments on board, began in December of 2001. Funds raised from the sale of the $3 patches would benefit the FDNY's Uniformed Firefighters Association. After 6 months of selling the patches, $15,000 was raised and sent to the UFA on the 1 year anniversary of 9/11. Our initial costs were $18,000 for mailers and about $1.75 per patch. In addition to my full time firefighter/paramedic position, I worked about 40 additional hours per week for nearly 6 months, filling 25-50 orders each day. Orders ranged from many 1-2  patch orders to as many as 500 in one order. By the way, the 500 patch order came from a Hong Kong Fire Officer who bought them for many of his firefighters in China!

Nearly 12 years later, there are over 10,000 organizations in 30 countries that have stepped up to participate in the project. This includes firefighters (domestic and abroad) and deployed U.S. Troops. Photos of firefighters and soldiers were sent in over the years by those proud to count themselves among those who would make a promise to Never Forget.

Even though I was a firefighter reacting to the loss of 343 brothers, it made sense to create a patch with a firefighter, police officer and soldier on it for the 5-year anniversary date of 9/11. Decals, pins, and even a 9/11 Challenge Coin was created later to provide more fund raising merchandise.

How did we survive 12 years?  Aside from the 1st 9 months of fund raising, sales for the 9/11 themed fund
raising merchandise have been very sporadic. So, other fund raising projects needed to be designed and implemented to both raise funds for 9/11 related organizations and for the 9/11 Patch Project Fund; our own fund that was put in place August of 2011 so that we can keep our project running. The 10 Yr 9-11 Manhattan to Manhattan Bus tour was created as a fund raising 10 yr anniversary awareness trip across the United States. The tour ran 9 months--18,000 miles--176 stops and our major sponsor, Fire Careers, drove the bus and met with firefighters and citizens at every stop. $20,000 was raised despite the bus arriving in areas met with some of our nation's largest and most destructive disasters--including Joplin, MO, where the large 40 foot bus had to run for cover. The 9/11 Bus arrived in D.C. in time for the earthquake and in New York right when the hurricane hit Manhattan.

How can you help? We depend heavily on our $911 Sponsor program to keep the project afloat--problem is, many say they will step up and sponsor and few actually do. The program started during the 9/11 Bus trip where we picked up Chicago Firefighters, Philadelphia Firefighters, Baltimore Firefighters, Cataret Firefighters and Northrop Grumman, among others, as $911 Sponsors.

Back then, we put our sponsor logos on the side of the giant bus and thousands would see them as it traveled across the U.S. for months. Today, we do things a bit differently. You see, we feel if you are willing to step up and help us out, we are willing to promote your organization from our website, blog, newsletters, 4 Facebook pages, press releases, trade shows and Twitter. It is no secret that our promotion works--we have plenty of testimonials we can send those with cold feet. Many will still spend thousands for trade magazine ad's when they can spend far less with us and get tons more promotion.

The 9/11 Patch Project is the largest, longest running and farthest reaching firefighter owned 9/11 project in the world. We are proud to make that claim and hope that you consider helping us continue to do great work all over the world to remember the heroes of 9/11. We need heroes too--become ours HERE.

Brett Hill- Former Firefighter/Paramedic & Founder
9/11 Patch Project

Friday, May 17, 2013

Companies Stepping up on Behalf of 9/11 Organizations

What do you say to firefighter owned companies like HazSim that step up to sponsor non profit efforts like the 9/11 Patch Project? You say "Thanks" and do all you can to support their efforts that happen to improve the safety of firefighters around the world!

Money is tight for everyone--especially for relatively new companies. The 9/11 Patch Project realizes that so it becomes more about giving back to us, than just about accepting donations. Sure we need the money to stay afloat but we also believe it is our duty to step up as well and show our support through our social networking channels. That is why our Sponsor programs are not just about receiving donations--they are also about doing some round-the-clock promotion for those companies that step up for us. And we are getting pretty good at it!

HazSim was a natural fit for us as the HAZMAT training simulation software was something we felt would really be contributing to more firefighter and industrial workers longevity. Afterall, the owner is a Fire Captain at a major Southern California fire department and has been saving lives for many years. So he saw a need to improve firefighter safety and came up with a great product that he can use to save the lives of his brother firefighters.

So what is HazSim? I personally had the opportunity to see it work and it clicked with me right away. It is
software built into a device that HAZMAT personnel are use to using. During training at any given organization, a HAZMAT tech suits up, carries his monitor to a specific location. He scans the area with his device and and instructor from another location actually sends them data about the hazardous environment they may be walking into. The instructor can also make the process more interactive by sending the tech some Q & A relating to the environment. Until HazSim came along, training consisted of a static environment where a tech in training may just approach a simulated hazardous situation and see a note pinned to the door about what type of dangerous chemicals may be inside. HazSim has evolved HAZMAT training and people should take notice!

If you are a fire department or any other organization that deals with hazardous environments, I recommend that you take a long hard look at HazSim and what they are doing to improve the safety of HAZMAT Tech's through real-interactive-updated training simulation.

For other companies out there that are looking for a great organization that has remembered the heroes of 9/11 and raised funds for nearly 12 years, step on up and we'll do all we can--whenever we can--to make sure we step up for you. Our organization depends on companies like HazSim to keep our doors open and we can't thank them enough! More about our Sponsor programs HERE