Welcome to the write-up here at Nobody’s View. Of course, the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremonies may get in the way for a bit, but we’ll have it.
In the meantime, if you want a laugh for the day (I hope you’ll find it funny), click here and let us know what you think of the Olympics and about one-name nicknames!
[You already know we blog America’s Got Talent here, because we believe that regular people living their dreams is worth a few words. Heck, that’s sort of why we exist! And, this season, we’ve decided to again blog Secret Millionaire. Why? Well, first, we’ve noticed some of you coming back from last season looking for the write-ups. So there’s that. But we also like the idea of people giving back. And, we notice that sometimes people check in here for names and information on the groups that benefit. So, if we can help you find some information, then that’s fine by us. Enjoy!]
So, Belnick is 24. Tonight, he’s traveling to NYC to face the ongoing effects of 9/11.
The show opened with a shot of the Atlanta, Georgia denizen driving his Porsche and talking about BizChair.com, his multi-million dollar business. He got a computer at age 10, and he was supporting the family soon thereafter, via the website.
His mom’s advice? Eat well. Good advice! You can never go wrong with eat well. Love that.
NYC. Eight million people. Lots of needs. Especially the 9/11 aftermath. Belnick was off to Brooklyn. I’ve been to Brooklyn. But not to the place Belnick was going.
His apartment was…sparse. Small. Not his Atlanta digs. He met some hostility with his camera, but…well…that’s probably to be expected. On his wanderings, he saw a memorial to 6 firefighters who died at Engine 235, Battalion 57. Then, he recalled where he was when it happened. In class. I remember, I was getting ready to go to class. I turned on the TV at my friend’s call and was stunned.
We get so used to our routines, and when we see something like that, well…to call it jarring is an understatement.
The next day, he went to the Friends of Firefighters, founded by Nancy Carbone. She founded it initially to feed rescue workers. Now? It’s therapy and counseling for the firefighter community, from the firefighter community. Belnick was introduced to firefighters renovating the place, and the conscripted him to work. Carpentry wasn’t his forte, but he learned. One firefighter, struggling with the 9/11 experience, said that Friends of Firefighters has really helped him and changed his life. He “can’t wait” to get there on Mondays. That’s the best compliment any counseling center can get.
Over NYC pizza, Belnick learned about firefighting culture. That any meal could be the last for a firefighter. He described firefighting as a calling. I used to be a therapist and I worked crisis with a fire department, so this story really resonated with me. It really rang true to what I saw. Even though where I am, there was no tragedy on the scale of 9/11, I saw the camaraderie firsthand. The family feeling. The importance of support for the profession. Any profession.
Belnick wandered the streets until he found Children Of Promise, NYC and founder Sharon Content. The only program in NYC that provides tutoring and counseling for children of incarcerated parents. The narrator said that children of incarcerated parents have a 70% chance of repeating the cycle. Sharon left Wall Street to establish the organization.
Children Of Promise tries to infuse therapy into all program aspects. Lots of sharing. Lots of talking it out. The kids were sharing heartbreaking stories of their lives while having a parent in prison. The injustices to the children of the justice system, and how hard that can be. Simple things like being together? Well, we may take that for granted, but these kids can’t.
That night, Belnick admitted that the experience is overwhelming, and that he was having trouble processing it. But that’s a good thing. Like ripping off a band aid. Just jump in. Experience it. Let it wash over you. Sometimes, great things come out of that.
The next day, Belnick was back at Friends of Firefighers. Cooking. Ham and cheese omelettes. Coffee. And stories. Stories about the aftermath of 9/11 and how Nancy was helping the firefighters who kept heading into the danger zone to save and help others.
Friends of Firefighters also provides help for those who lost loved ones in the rescue efforts. And for those suffering from the long-term after-effects of essentially living in that rescue area for days on end.
A lot of the people working in Friends of Firefighters talked about the “brotherhood” and the family atmosphere of rescuers. How they stick together through the tragedies and healing. It’s moving to see emotions become real, when shared. Especially in groups not known for expressing emotion.
On Day 4, he returned to Children Of Promise, to work with teens. That’s a hard group work with, but it can be incredibly rewarding when the teen are on board. One boy talked about Children Of Promise as a “savior.” A place that shows a different path. Another boy said it’s a place where he knows others understand what he’s going through…and that care for him. That’s the essence of good therapy…it makes emotional expressions safe, in a non-judgmental atmosphere. In a place where expression is encouraged, and people are safe to be.
Take care when you judge. There’s always someone on the other end.
On Day 5, Belnick is heading back to Friends of Firefighters, where he seems to be accepted as part of the culture there.
Nancy took him on a walk and showed him some of the memorials painted on the firehouses where she’s worked. She admitted that she can’t go down to the site, as it’s just too hard for her. But she and Belnick went to a lookout and gazed at the site. It was hard for Nancy, but she did it. She confronted it with Belnick.
The next day, Belnick was up for his reveal. He went back to Children of Promise and shared his admiration for an organization that helps a forgotten population. He presented a check for $60,000. There was a lot of clapping and some tears, but most importantly…more services. Including plans for a van so the kids can visit their parents.
Belnick was then off to Friends of Firefighters.
Belnick told the firefighters at Friends of Firefighters how much he appreciated being part of the brotherhood of firefighters now. He made a $65,000 donation, and it was clearly appreciated. He also made out a check to Nancy for $5,000 so she can take a vacation with her family.
Belnick said he learned a lot on his trip to NYC. He found it incredibly rewarding.
Children of promise was able to get a vehicle to transport kids to see their incarcerated parents.
Friends of Firefighters still provides free counseling to firefighters and has renovated their kitchen.
And Nancy? Well, a vacation is in the works.
So this week? Well, this week we learned that there is a very large, invisible population that suffers for the sins of others. May they never suffer at our hands. They deserve support for the lives they are living, and not the lives their parents have lived.
And that heroes often do their work quietly. We don’t see them on a regular basis, but when we need them, there they are. The firefighters in NYC are just a snapshot of the heroes in your own town. Heroes I was fortunate enough to work with for one great year.
See you down the road, Nobody Nation.