Archive for the ‘Hero’ Category

Service of Charity V: 13 is a Charm for Christopher Leadership Award Winner

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Mary Ellen Robinson, vice president, COO, Secretary of The Christophers with Frank Siller, winner of the 2019 Christopher Leadership Award

Being charity-minded and selfless came naturally to the Siller children. Last week Frank Siller told a New York City audience about the Thanksgiving his mother picked up the turkey from the dining room table and brought it to a family she had just heard was less well off than hers, and they were poor. Siller was so young he didn’t remember but his older brother tells the story. Their father–eventually there were seven children–spent Saturdays at a hospital chatting or praying with the ill–whatever was needed.

Frank Siller, left, and Christopher Awards MC Ernie Anastos, anchor/producer, Fox 5, NY

The story the chairman and CEO of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation told that touched me the most happened after his First Holy Communion. He’d received a stack of envelopes from well wishers the contents of which totaled $26. His mother took him for a walk that day and asked him how much he would give to those in need. He tested the water and suggested $13, which his mother accepted. He said that today, he can’t remember what he bought with his $13 but he remembers, in retrospect, how he felt about $13 he gave away.

To honor their brother, Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who was killed on 9/11, Siller and his siblings launched the foundation to aid catastrophically injured veterans, first responders, and Gold Star families. For this Frank Siller was honored with The Christopher Leadership Award that recognizes individuals whose work, actions, and example serve as a guiding light to others. I heard Siller address the other winners of Christopher Awards–for their winning feature films, TV/Cable programs, and books for adults and young people–and guests who gathered for the 70th Annual Christopher Awards.

Some of the Christopher Award winning authors who attended the 70th Christopher Awards in New York City are, from the left, Torrey Maldonado, “Tight;” Linsey Davis, “The World is Awake;” Jeffrey Kluger, “To the Moon!;” Ruby Shamir, “To the Moon!;” David Blight whose book “Frederick Douglass” also won a Pulitzer Award and Beth Hautala, “The Ostrich and Other Lost Things.”

The Foundation began locally and now has a national reach building specially adapted smart homes for members of the military who have lost arms and legs, pays off mortgages for families of first responders who have been killed in the line of duty and supports Gold Star families and supports community programs around the country. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised over $125 million dollars, with 95 cents of every dollar going to programs.

St. Francis of Assisi said “While we have time, let us do good,” which the siblings adopted as the Foundation’s motto because they heard their parents frequently repeat those words. This motto fits hand-in-hand with The Christophers’ motto: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” which guides its publishing, radio, online, and awards programs.

Do you think it is easier for poor people to give to charity than for the comfortable? I am always amazed by Americans’ generosity. Is giving to charity cultural? Did your family guide or inspire you to give time or money to support causes that were meaningful to you?

From the left presenters at the 70th Annual Christopher Awards ceremony: Tony Aiello, reporter, WCBS-TV, NY; Joan Bauer, author, three-time Christopher Award winner; Paula Faris, ABC News anchor and host of the “Journeys of Faith” podcast with MC Ernie Anastos, anchor/producer, Fox 5, NY and 2016 Life Achievement Award winner.

 

Service of When Man Worsens the Impact of Nature & the Happy Ending

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Snow March 2017 at RR station 1 turned

It’s bad enough when you’re not on the spot to eradicate damage left by a hefty snowfall while the precipitation is fresh and easier to remove. That can’t be helped when you park your car at an outdoor lot by a railroad station and you’re not planning to return for a few days or more. Best you can do is hope for a few warm, sunny days to melt the damage if you’re lucky.

When the people hired to clear the snow make it harder for customers to extricate their cars from igloo-like conditions they cause by their lazy snow removal strategy, it’s enraging. None of the other lots on the two hour trip north looked anything like ours—see photos above and right–and we’re told that the last lot on the line a few miles farther north—Wassaic, N.Y.–wasn’t nearly as much of a mess.

There is plenty of space in this lot to dedicate an out-of-the-way areaSnow March 2017 at RR station 2 turned for a giant mound of snow which is standard practice in the northeast. The plows at the Dover Plains station clear the roadway by piling snow against the cars as they go past which makes it much easier and quicker for them and much worse for us.

We’d asked one company what they would charge to get us out and were told, “We’ll let you know when we’re done.” Translation: “Open your checkbook and we’ll see how much we’ll charge you.”

Snow Angels

Our friends Bob and John exit the train in Wassaic. Last Friday they took the early train upstate, extricated their car and drove down to free ours. This was a huge gift. Even if we had the tools, we don’t have the strength for this chore.

To make things worse, I’d jumped the gun in anticipation of spring and committed the mortal error of parking nose first. Not only did they remove the snow-turned to ice that was as high as the trunk and halfwayup the doors, [photo below, left] they had to clear the front, the sides, and where the wheels were to go and then they turned around the car so it was facing out. When a few hours later we walked out of the train and into the car we left the station in minutes singing their praises.

We have no control over nature but we can manage how we deal with it. Have you seen sloppy or spectacular cleanup jobs after storms? Can you share examples of friends who donate not only their muscle and know-how but their precious little free time to help others in a pinch?

The Before: Our car is in the middle

The Before: Our car is in the middle

After: Our car ready to roll.

After: Our car ready to roll.

Service of Heroes

Monday, June 6th, 2016

George Washington Bridge

George Washington Bridge

We can hope that one of these strangers—or others just like them—are around should we need them.

East River Rescue

Early last Wednesday morning, three joggers jumped in the East River on 10th Street to save a suicidal man. David Blauzvern, a 23 year old investment banker and former lifeguard was first, wrote Chelsia Rose Marcus and Thomas Tracy in The Daily News. “Blauzvern was joined by two other joggers, 29-year-old John Green and off-duty NYPD Capt. Gary Messina, of the Midtown South Detective Squad.”

Jogger rescue. Photo: NY Daily News

Jogger rescue. Photo: NY Daily News

According to the reporters, Messina said, “This is my job, this is what I’m trained to do, but these guys did it out of the goodness of their hearts. These two gentlemen that jumped in were the actual real heroes.”

The reporters wrote: “Their actions were a welcome change from those taken by straphangers on a Brooklyn-bound N train on May 20, when no one did anything to help 33-year-old Efrain Guaman after he was stabbed in the gut for his iPhone — something Blauzvern fails to understand.”

Bridge Rescue

A few days before, “Police stop man from jumping off George Washington Bridge,” was the headline for the article Spencer Kent wrote for NJ.com. Three Port authority officers– Vincent Zappulla, Ed Berdeccia and Mark Kopcynski–stopped the 32 year old man who was in the middle of the bridge sitting on a railing on the river side. They successfully struggled with him, pulling him to the walkway.

Subway Rescue

Subway 6 trainAlso in May, NBC NY described a harrowing incident where a fearless 19 year old, Nicholas Buxton, saved the life of a man in his 30s who appeared to be ill and fell onto the subway tracks. It was at 8 pm on the No. 6 train at Canal/Lafayette.

The man was too heavy to lift–Buxton tried several times, urged on by a bystander, Luis Figueroa–so he tucked him under the track, under the platform. Figueroa, seeing the oncoming train, yelled at Buxton, “Dude, you gotta get up, the train’s about to arrive,” according to the NBC report. Figueroa pulled Buxton up just in time. NBC also wrote in its online coverage, “The man on the tracks was taken to Bellevue Hospital with a broken arm, according to the FDNY. It’s not clear why he fell.”

What makes some people disregard their own safety and volunteer, or take jobs, to rescue others in distress while others–such as those on the N train after a man was stabbed–take no steps to help? Have you witnessed or read about similar acts of bravery in everyday life?

NYPD and NYFD

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