Running a business is difficult. However, running a 501C(3) charity can be mind numbing. Brothers Before Others does not have one paid employee on ‘staff’ and every dollar, resource and minute spent accomplishing what this charity has accomplished has been, in one form or another, donated. That means that BBO, similar to virtually every other charity out there, is in a constant state of fundraising.
Brothers Before Others is a law enforcement charity. Our goal is to care for police officers and their families while expanding that care outside of our circle. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the American police officer, especially in the current climate, is not always the most popular thing to do. While searching for sponsors and partners, the pressures of funding the work we want to do can often run into conflict with the source of those funds and, more importantly, the stances of those sources. Let me explain using an example.
A few years back, through channels, a privately owned Ben and Jerry’s store front wanted to donate the proceeds of a fundraiser that they had held to BBO. For those who live under a rock, Ben and Jerry’s, the corporation, and their owners are notoriously outspoken critics of the American police officer. They have been vocal advocates for cop killer Wesley Cook, even donating money to his defense fund. In 2015, they were encouraging their store owners to get behind the ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’ movement perpetuating the false narrative that 18 year old Ferguson, Missouri resident, Michael Brown, was shot by police while having his hands over his head and pleading with police officers to not shoot him.
It is with pride that I can say our President/Founder Michael Burke turned down that money. In doing so, Michael stated, “What would it say about who we are and what stand for if we took a helping hand from a brand name that clearly collectively has no respect for the American police officer or the ultimate sacrifice made by Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and the sacrifices that his family continues to make today. No thank you. I’d rather starve. Besides, Haagen-Dazs is better.” Michael even made up some stickers for the occasion.
BBO has grown slow and methodically as a charity. Michael has taken great care in choosing who he partners with and who he chooses as sponsors, a philosophy only strengthened through his friendship with BBO member Daniel Del Valle, who heads both The Blue Magazine and Moment of Silence Inc. Much like Michael, Daniel is very critical of who attaches his name to. In their worlds, sponsors are more than just dollar signs, they are family; both individuals and companies who have the utmost respect for the work being done by the American police officer and the sacrifices that are made. Today I wanted to highlight two such examples.
On December 10, 2019, Jersey City (NJ) Police Detective Joseph Seals encountered two individuals wanted in connection to a murder that had taken place mere days prior. The two were mustering up and preparing for a much larger scale attack to be carried out that day targeting a Jewish community in Jersey City. When their preparations were interrupted by Detective Seals, they were forced into action sooner than they had expected and their large scale attack was prevented. In the process, Detective Seals was assassinated; and while 3 other innocent lives were lost that day, Detective Seals’ proactive police work and ultimate sacrifice undoubtedly saved hundreds more.
Detective Seals left behind 5 children. The oldest of his children, Hailey, is a college student at Kean College and, due to budget restrictions, was unable to have a car of her own. This required her to ride the train every day or get rides from friends/family, putting scheduling hardships and limitations on everyone involved. Enter John Fette and Troy Mol of Fette Ford.
When Troy, already a long time supporter of BBO and law enforcement as a whole, heard about Detective Seals and the subsequent hardships left in the wake of his passing, he presented an opportunity to Mr Fette. There was never any hesitation. Fette Ford did what FAMILY does best. On February 13th, 2020, Hailey was taken Fette Ford in Clifton, NJ, under the guise that her parents were looking for a new car. Once there, she was seated in a vehicle that they were “looking at”. It was at that point that Hailey was made aware of the fact that, on behalf of Mr Fette and Fette Ford, Troy was presenting HER with that car, free of charge, in honor of her father’s sacrifice that day and the sacrifice that she will now be making for the rest of her life.
The aforementioned Moment of Silence headed by Daniel Del Valle is a 501C(3) established largely to combat blue suicide. When you spend some time looking at the numbers, they are staggering and only getting worse. Daniel and his team have been working tirelessly to try to get ahead of this issue while offering resources and help to those in need, even hosting dinners that bring together law enforcement professionals, professionals from the mental health field and individuals who have survived some dark times. Highlighting the importance of the wok being done, earlier this year, suicide cut through the heart of our circle and our charities.
In January, Roselle Park (NJ) Police Officer Edward Nortrup took his own life. Eddie was a staple at the BBO office, also occupied by our sponsor Korinos Inc. He was an active member of BBO and personal friend to many of our members.
On February 19th, 2020, Andrew McCrone, BBO member and owner of the Sun Tavern, opened his doors to our charity and allowed us to host a fundraiser at his establishment to benefit Eddie’s wife and young daughter. Besides being a member, Andrew, through his business, is a sponsor of BBO as well.
Attended by over 100 members of BBO, the Roselle Park Police Department, our partner Copline, and members of the Roselle Park community, the fundraiser raised over $8000 for the family, helped in part by monies, food and drink donated directly by Andrew himself and his partner Maximum Quality Foods located in Linden, NJ.
When an individual/business sponsor gets involved with BBO, The Blue Magazine and Moment of Silence, it is not long before they realize that this is much more than simply a sponsorship. Our sponsors are vetted and only the most trustworthy are allowed into our circle. Men like Troy Mol and Andrew McCrone are examples of what that level of concern over who we align with results in. They are not merely sponsors. They are family. They are woven into the fabric of this journey and the work being done; and to them, and all of our sponsors who quietly lift us up and often go unnoticed, we thank you for everything you do and are eternally grateful.