A native and lifelong resident of the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, Nancy now lives and breathes firefighting. Her connection to the department was almost nothing before 9/11 — a great uncle had been a firefighter who was killed in action in the 1930s — but otherwise her own life had been going in a different direction until that day. When the towers fell and it started to become apparent that there had been huge loss of life on the ground as well as from the towers, like many people, her first instinct was to reach out and help. She went to a nearby firehouse in Brooklyn Heights, then one in Red Hook, and finally one in the Bronx, offering to help — to do anything to ease the burden on the firefighters searching The Pile (the firefighters’ name for Ground Zero) for their fallen brothers.
A few days after the <September 11, 2001> attacks, one of the firefighters came to Nancy and asked her if she knew anyone who was a therapist because he needed to talk to someone about what had happened. Nancy found one and introduced them, and soon several members of the firehouse were seeing the therapist. She quickly realized that the trauma had opened up deep wounds that needed tending to, and Friends of Firefighters was born. An organization where firefighters could come, talk about their thoughts away from the tight knit community of other firefighters — each of whom were going through their own trauma.
Friends of Firefighters provides counseling, yoga, acupuncture, meditation and biofeedback sessions all tailored specifically for active and retired firefighters and their families. It provides a safe haven in the comfort of familiar surroundings, amongst people who understand what it is to be a firefighter. Many volunteers are retired members of the department.