I am a member of the FDNY and was a first responder to the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Shortly thereafter I was promoted to Captain and was assigned to a firehouse very close to Ground Zero. This company lost four members operating in the North Tower. In the weeks and months following the attacks the members of this company and I spent many long and hours in the recovery effort at the site. We did this while responding to our usual calls for fires and emergencies. This heavy workload took a heavy emotional toll on us all.Offers of help poured in from many quarters. The one which stood out most for us was a visit from Jessica Locke. Jessica is a practitioner of the Alexander Technique. She explained the basics of this method and gently insisted each of us submit to a session.The calming, soothing effects could be felt before a first session was even completed. I personally felt less stressed and began to sleep better almost immediately. I would recommend this unique treatment to anyone experiencing the effects of stressful, demanding circumstances.Jessica adopted our firehouse, and at her own expense repeatedly travelled to NYC to provide Alexander sessions for us. Her concern for our welfare continues to this day. She still returns to NYC to provide this work for our members.Jessica is a dedicated, compassionate professional. The benefits of her work with us have been immeasurable. With the help of people like Jessica we have all come a long way in the process of recovery and healing from the traumatic experiences of 9/11.James FodyBattalion ChiefFDNY
My name is Darlene C. and I am the wife of Patrick C., (Retired) Professional Firefighter from the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Dept. I was first introduced to Ms. Jessica Locke under extreme hardship circumstances following my husband’s unanticipated early retirement due to SEVERE health issues related to 9/11/01.After a mental breakdown he suffered related to his working at the World Trade Center site, the fire department Union President advised me to retire my husband under an Ordinary Disability Pension. His salary discontinued the day he signed the papers and his pension wasn’t approved until after 8 long months.
During that time, we lost our vehicle, began foreclosure of our home, utilities shut off (more than once) and were in desperate need of financial help and emotional support. Between 11/2006 and 09/2007 (within 10 months) my husband was inpatient on 3 occasions due to PTSD and on suicide watch each time. He was “out of it” and wasn’t receiving any help/support from his fire department. I didn’t know of anyone else in our situation. I was in a state of panic.Due to the fact that the Firefighters Fund had only recently achieved nonprofit status and had no funds in their account, Jessica Locke was not able to help us via the Firefighters Fund, but that did not stop Jessica from helping us. Jessica sent us money out of her own personal bank account on more than one occasion to make sure we had enough to eat, as well as reaching out to others (her own family and friends) from near and far, people we’ve never met, in order to get help to us ASAP. We received gift cards for food, gas, pet food from Jessica’s family members and friends.Jessica wrote letters and made personal phone calls to a Senator’s office; many other 9/11 foundations; the President of the Honda Corporation (re our repossessed auto and was able to help us receive “forgiveness” on the outstanding $8,000 balance owed to Honda!); to our MD (requesting forgiveness/reduction of medical bills exceeding $9.000). She acted as a reference if needed by other 9/11 foundations on our behalf. Beyond that, Jessica was a friend, a “shoulder” for me and was available to me for any reason, anytime. Jessica even made herself available to us while we were in need and she was on vacation. She didn’t want us to ever feel alone or abandoned.Jessica went above and beyond for our children. Our daughter had braces and we could no longer afford to have them tightened. Jessica reached out to a friend, a NYC firefighter, who graciously made payments for the remainder of our daughter’s orthodontic visits until it was paid in full.Jessica reached out to a fire company in Boston, and together they made it possible for my son to have a 16th birthday party in the midst of so much hardship.Christmas followed my son’s party, and we had no money (not even for a tree). Jessica and a friend reached out to a local nursery, they made it possible for us to have a beautiful Christmas tree and wreath for our home on Christmas. We didn’t have the ability to buy presents for our children. Jessica arranged for gifts to be sent.Jessica is a Godsend, and we call her “one of our Angels”. Thank you is not enough, there will never be enough words to thank Jessica for all she has done for us.Most Sincerely,Darlene C.
Jessica is a doer, not a talker. FF. Rich N., FDNY
My name is Tom Lopez and I am the President of the Newton Firefighters Association. It is with great pleasure that I have this opportunity to share with everyone what a wonderful experience we have had with Jessica Locke and the Firefighters Fund.
I first met Jessica in October 2006 when the Newton Firefighters had been engaged in a difficult battle with the sitting mayor. We had been without a contract for three years and the six fire stations were crumbling all around us. Jessica had heard we had no screens on our windows from some firefighters in her own community in Watertown and she wanted to help. After giving Jessica a full review of what we had faced and seeing the utter frustration in her face, she turned a simple mission of getting screens for our windows into a whole lot more.
Over the last four years, with dedication and a relentless perseverance, Jessica and the Firefighters Fund raised the awareness of the unsafe and deplorable working conditions in our fire stations to a level never seen before in this community. Her commitment to her mission never wavered, and, with the assistance of some of the local politicians, they forced the mayor into a ten year renovation plan for the six fire stations.
Jessica did not stop there. During her fire station endeavors, it became abundantly clear there was a strong need to address the dilapidated safety equipment that was being used on a daily basis. The lack of investment in firefighter safety was abundantly clear, and never more so than in the late night hours on May 25, 2007 when Lt Rich Geary was run over by a malfunctioning 24 year old fire truck. Jessica spent the next year taking whatever steps necessary to bring this injustice to the forefront. From testifying in front of the Board of Alderman, meeting with the media, or standing on a busy street corner holding a picket sign – there was no stopping her.
It has not been all confrontational. It is true that Jessica has put much attention on the many needs that we face here in Newton but she has also worked diligently to raise awareness of what all firefighters do for their communities – the sacrifice and dangers that we face on a daily basis in order to protect the citizens of our communities.
Since we have been blessed with the presence of Jessica Locke and the Firefighters Fund, we have seen one fire station renovated with the second to begin any day now, four new fire trucks, and numerous safety equipment upgrades that undoubtedly would have taken many years to get done. Over the last three years she has arranged for a firefighter appreciation day in the Greater Boston area on September 11 where local residents and restaurants provide meals for all the firefighters on duty that day, just as a way of saying thank you.
The Firefighters Fund was created by a compassionate, dedicated, selfless woman looking to do some good for a group of people who have given and suffered much. Many times, I have been asked what it is like to have met and worked alongside Jessica, and the only way I can describe it is: Jessica is the ray of sunshine that beams through the dark clouds as the storm passes by. You just know with Jessica there are better days coming.
With the deepest appreciation,
Tom Lopez President Newton Firefighters Association Local 863