Since founding Brothers Before Others, Michael Burke has partnered with other charities and individuals along the way who share his same vision and goals. One such individual is Philadelphia Police Officer Jonny Castro.
Jonny serves as the forensic sketch artist for the Philadelphia Police Department. Since 2016 and the first anniversary of the assassination of Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III, Jonny has been selflessly creating one of kind memorial portraits of our nations heroes, sworn and civilian alike. Jonny does these portraits using his own resources and has been ensuring, to the best of his ability, that they find their way to family and friends of the ones who are lost. Without being able to travel the country and, sometimes, without the ability to verify the authenticity of the person on the ‘other end of the line’, the latter can be a daunting task.
Since it’s inception in 2014, Brothers Before Others has been ensuring that a floral arrangement has reached the services for every line of duty death in the country. As a result, BBO has developed a vast network of sworn individuals from departments all across the nation. It’s that very same network that has helped alleviate some of the pressures associated with Jonny ensuring his portraits are properly handled, received and given the attention/respect they deserve.
We reached out to Mike for a little background on the partnership between BBO and Jonny Castro Art:
Q: Mike, tell me about the partnership between you and Jonny, and the importance it plays for each.
A: Well, first let me say that the partnership was not the original intent. I had seen the work that Jonny was doing and knew that he belonged in Brothers Before Others. We do not ‘recruit’ too many, but through his selfless act of benevolence through his portraits, this was a no-brainer.
Q: Where does the partnership come in?
A: We took baby steps. In the 501C(3) field, where your reputation is everything, who we partner with can never be taken lightly. So, after bringing him in, we eventually had that conversation with him: Are YOU ready for the next level? Can you do every line of duty death portrait like we do with flowers?
Q: How did he respond?
A: Honestly, I think we may have scared him a little. He is an artist and, as is the case with many artists, they are quirky and march to their own beat; Which, as an artist myself, I love and admire, but that doesn’t always work well in the charity game. During the conversation I was shocked to find out that Jonny does these portraits with no outside funding whatsoever. Since finding that out, Brothers Before Others has raised money internally and steered him to projects with some of our other partners such as Nine Line Apparel and Copper Gear, both who produced exclusive apparel and coins, respectively. What Jonny does is amazing and the members of Brothers Before Others are happy playing a small role in advancing his cause through promotion and delivery of his work.
Q: How so?
A: Well, take Hawaii County Police Officer Bronson Kaliloa, who was shot and killed on 7/17/18, while conducting a motor vehicle stop: As he does as often as is humanly possible, Jonny completed a portrait of Officer Kaliloa. That portrait will make it’s way from Philadelphia to Hawaii via Miami and be hand delivered to the family of Officer Kaliloa in time for the scheduled memorial services. BBO member and Miami Police Officer Tommy Reyes stepped up and, at his own cost, is traveling from Miami to Hawaii and will be handling the task. This is not the first time Tommy has done something like this, having traveled from Miami to Baltimore a few weeks ago in order to accompany other BBO members and assist in the delivery of the portrait Jonny created for Baltimore County Police Officer First Class Amy Sorrells Caprio. You can clearly see that, at least as far as the members of Brothers Before Others are concerned, the brotherhood/sisterhood knows NO boundaries.
Michael and every member of Brothers Before Others is clearly proud of the work being done by Jonny and share his same vision. Brothers Before Others will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that efforts being put forth by Jonny continue to get the recognition and respect they so justly deserve.
For more information on the delivery to Hawaii:
For more information on Jonny and his work, he can be found on FB and Instagram by searching “Jonny Castro Art”.
For more information of Hawaii County Police Officer Kaliloa: