NYPD Awesome: Rebuilding Homes on Breezy Point With a View of The Freedom Tower

June 2nd, 2014 by Bita Milanian - 2 Comments
David Walsh with Mike and Adrienne.

David Walsh with Mike and Adrienne.

Last Friday, I was honored to take part in one of hundreds of volunteer events that occurred around the world as part of my company’s annual “Global Day of Service.” Thousands of employees worked full “eight hour days” and more, helping organizations and people in their local communities. While the GENBAND team volunteers year round, for one day each year, “business as usual” becomes unusually inspiring as employees choose the activities they’d like to contribute to, literally roll up our sleeves, and start to “dig in.”

My team chose to support the New York Says Thank You Foundation. Since 2003, NYSTY empowers survivors of 9/11 and disaster survivors from across the United Stated to help rebuild and strengthen communities recovering from their own tragedy through large scale community-wide volunteer projects. It has been their way of saying “Thank You” for all the love and support Americans extended to New York City in the days, weeks, and months following September 11th.

Michael Voellinger and his daughter Olivia. ClearBlade also made a cash donation.

Michael Voellinger and his daughter Olivia. ClearBlade also made a cash donation.

Along with our CEO David Walsh, one of our board members, Alex Russo, our EVP of operations and HR Robin Wright, a dozen team members, and a father and daughter team from one of the software companies we work with (ClearBlade’s CMO Michael Voellinger and his daughter Olivia), we made our way to a charming beach town at the end of Brooklyn, facing out over the port of NY and downtown Manhattan, where the World Trade Center once stood.

Construction coordinator Tim Callahan met us at the cottage of NYPD Officer Michael Bresneham, where we built a new sub-floor:

Mike’s dad Tom was there too, a retired NYPD Officer who has raised his family in the Breezy Point community for decades. Founder Jeff Parness said, “This was our chance to give back to local first responders directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. We committed to help rebuild 200 homes of under-insured active first responders in the NYC metro area whose primary homes have been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.”

Mike’s home is slowly being restored, and our team was so impressed with his spirit and service, we have committed to continuing to help Mike until the “job is done.” He is an inspiring young man who risks his life to protect our communities – and he comes from good stock!

A mile or so away we were continued our mission helping NYPD Officer Adrienne Haddican – starting with demolishing what was left of her front deck (it floated away and volunteers carried it back and placed it in front of her home) – then building a new deck. This was hard work, and our team went right to it with hammers, crow bars, saws and shovels.

Rebuilding the sub-floor in Mike’s cottage.

Rebuilding the sub-floor in Mike’s cottage.

My new friend Tim!

My new friend Tim!

GENBAND team members powering through!

GENBAND team members powering through!

Jill Adkins Director of Operations at NYSTY shared this quote from Adrienne, and I am now sharing it with you – Adrienne is a friend for life, and as we have committed to Mike, we’re committed to Adrienne to ensure her home is more peaceful and lovely than it was before this tragic storm:

The whole crew, including our “foreman” Tom, Mike’s Dad.

The whole crew, including our “foreman” Tom, Mike’s Dad.

“NYSTY has given us hope when we thought all was lost. We lost our home as a result of Hurricane Sandy. We didn’t receive any help from insurance or FEMA.   In the wake of so much loss and destruction, we felt grateful that none of us were hurt.  Despite this gratitude, we ( like so many in our community) were devastated. We felt that we were out of options, and our house was gone forever. When we found out NYSTY was going to help us rebuild we were beside ourselves, to say the least! The volunteers and coordinators have been wonderful. The organization supplied insulation and Sheetrock which the volunteers helped install. They did countless things to help in the process, and we were just told that they are also going to help rebuild our deck. We have been blown away by the kindness and generosity we have received. This has been an amazing experience and it has inspired us to help anyone people in need in any way we can.  We believe in paying it forward, and we want to spread the hope we have been given. Through this devastation NYSTY had shown the resilience of the human spirit.  With kindness, help, and support from one another, there is nothing our community cannot overcome.  Please accept our most sincere gratitude. Thank you for giving us back our home.”

Police Officer Mike Bresneham

Police Officer Mike Bresneham

I am so very proud to be part of a company that cares this much, and to now be associated with Jeff and his team, and Mike and Adrienne.

For more coverage and photos from around the world:

Twitter Storify | Photo Album

Please join us in supporting this wonderful organization which will be rebuilding in Oklahoma this coming September.  Donations of time, supplies, furnishings, and cash to accelerate the completion of Mike and Adrienne’s home are welcome and tax deductible (NYSTY is a 501c3 organization). To contribute please visit www.newyorksaysthankyou.org.

Meantime, looking forward to another amazing GLOBAL DAY OF SERVICE in 2015!

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