PATERSON, NJ- Throughout October, members of the Paterson Fire Department wore commemorative T-shirts to mark it as Breast Cancer Awareness month. However, it wasn’t just a new look they were going for. The uniform change, for the fifth consecutive year, was part of their effort to raise funds for residents fighting the disease.

“In addition to being firefighters we are also sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters,” stated Jerry Behnke, President, Paterson FMBA Local 2. “There are not many of us that haven’t been touched by Breast Cancer, this is our way of fighting back against it, and making good on our commitment to the community.”

On Friday, representatives of St. Joseph’s Medical Center, the recipient of the funds raised through the T-shirt sales, stopped by Paterson Fire Headquarters to thank the firefighters for their efforts, and to take photos with them marking the donation in the amount of $16,000.

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“It is truly remarkable that with all they do on a daily basis Paterson’s firefighters have a desire to give even more to support their community,” stated Liz Regula, Executive Director, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center Foundation. “This donation will truly have a remarkable impact on the lives of residents that are battling Breast Cancer.”

This year’s donation brings the total raised in five years to over $55,000 and was the highest ever, a result, Behnke indicated, of the hard work of two younger members of the Department, Amer Alnatur and Frank Lozada.

According to Behnke, “Amer and Frank represent a new generation of firefighters.” Pointing to their increased and strategic use of online tools and social media to reach out to more people Behnke continued, “their strategies may be different, but their dedication to service, like so many that have come before them, extends past their time in the firehouse.”

“We are proud to call ourselves Paterson firefighters,” stated Alnatur and Lozada jointly. “We learned early on that for those we serve with it’s not just about fighting fires, it’s about building a stronger community. This effort reflects that.”