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.