PATERSON, NJ- When Paterson firefighters Amer Alnatur and Frank Lozada launched FMBA Local 2’s annual breast cancer fundraiser last month they set out to surpass the success of past years.
“Our union has strived to not only support the community, but also to involve the community directly in our efforts to make Paterson even better,” the firefighters said at the time. “By making these T-shirts, as well newly introduced commemorative pins and lanyards, even more accessible to the public, we believe we will break last year’s record and donate even more to this important cause,” the predicted.
On Tuesday, surrounded by several of their fellow firefighters and union members, as well as Fire Chief Brian McDermott and representatives of St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Alnatur and Lozada presented a check for $17,000.
In 2017 the effort raised $16,000 bringing the then six year total to $55,000 with this year’s haul raising the total amount raised from T-shirt and other commemorative item sales effort to $71,000.
According to Doreen Monroe, case manager for Outpatient Adult Oncology Services, the dollars go towards helping those being treated for breast cancer "close the gap” between patient care and other day to day expenses such as rent and household bills.
“These are little things that make a big difference,” Monroe said adding that collectively Paterson’s firefighters have actually raised and donated more than $110,000 to the effort over the years.
Offering his gratitude was Robert Budelman, III, Vice President, Chief Development Officer, St. Joseph’s Health, who said that for the firefighters to “give of themselves a different way,” shows their “dedication to the community.”
New to the effort this year was the support of teachers and students at Paterson School 16, who, according to Lozada, raised more than 25 percent of this year's proceeds. Physical education teacher Susan Collum told TAPinto Paterson that she and her colleagues wore the t-shirts they bought every Friday in October as well as at Back-to-School night.
Students got to be part of a good cause, Collum said, adding that it was also a chance to interact with Paterson firefighters in a non-emergency setting.
“It showed them that their caring for the community goes beyond the job,” Vice Principal Anthony Bien-Aime added.
“It is often said that for those of on the job firefighting is in our blood,” said Kyle Hughes, President of FMBA Local 2. “Paterson is in our blood and there is nothing we won’t do to help those who need it most.”
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Editor's Note - Steve Lenox also serves as a public relations consultant to FMBA Local 2.