By: Sean Egan
Over the last few years, we have seen a major shift in the way we consume media. For the first time in history, we have access to literally billions of documents, news reports, and other forms of information. Hearing Our Heroes has taken advantage of this major shift, allowing us to create one of the fastest growing youth charities in the city.
First, I doubt there would be a “Hearing Our Heroes” if it were not for the new forms of media. We started the group as a reaction to what we read and watched on the Internet about veteran’s issues in our country. These issues gained my interest, and I wanted to know more about them. The Internet allowed me to go deeper and gain a better understanding of the issues, and then brainstorm on how to help solve them. Back twenty years ago, this task would have taken months, but the Internet narrowed my search in a matter of seconds.
After we started the group, we used the Internet to augment our mission and expand our reach. We started a Facebook page to keep in contact with our members and help get the word out about our events. We now use that page to post photos and connect with a national audience. About a year after we started the group, we were contacted by someone who kindly volunteered his time and skills to create a website for us. The website allows us to display our work, keep in contact with the people we assist, and expand our mission, catching the eye of the Bush Presidential Center, the Points of Light Foundation, and the United States Congress. Our program has also been featured on several online media sources, most notably ABC News. Online media coverage has helped our group gain attention from people who are now our partners and have given us valuable ideas on how we can better help veterans. The Internet has made it possible for us in New York to work with charities in California without having to travel three thousand miles!
Hearing Our Heroes was founded in large part thanks to how we became aware of issues in the veterans community we felt we could address. The Internet not only made us aware of these issues, but it gave us the information we needed to address the problems that our group tries to solve. Sure, the Internet has its downsides and not all teenagers use it appropriately, but I have taken advantage of this great tool and used it for good. As we continue to expand our reach, the Internet will be our most important tool. Hearing Our Heroes has a mission that is prevalent to all American teenagers. The Internet will allow us to deliver our mission to them and help them start chapters of Hearing Our Heroes in their schools around the country.
According to Forbes magazine’s annual analysis of domestic charities, three of the five most ineffective charities are aimed at veterans. It is a belittling fact that our veterans do not receive the aid, charity, and appreciation they deserve. Hearing Our Heroes is a charitable organization that was started by a small group of concerned students from Monsigner Farrell High School who made a single visit to the VA Hospital in Brooklyn. We realized how much they appreciated our gratitude for their service. We also realized that the local community needs to show more interest in their well being. With that in mind, we went back to Farrell with a mission: to create and take part in events that support and benefit the local veterans community. To this day, over 100 members of Hearing Our Heroes have donated hundreds of hours of service from snow shoveling for veterans to visiting the VA Hospital to welcoming them home. We are currently beginning our fund raising efforts, which will allow us to provide homeless veterans with clothes, food, and toiletries, update the library and recreation rooms at the VA Hospital, take some veterans to the ballpark for a game, host sporting events for injured vets through creating the Hero Games, and host a barbeque where the community can celebrate and thank the veterans for their sacrifice. We invite anyone from the local community to help us in our mission. It is truly our duty as Americans to insure that those who have served our great nation in the face of danger, defending our precious freedom that at times we all take for granted at times, receive the appreciation and recognition that they deserve.