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Our Founder's Letter

Greetings!

 

My name is Mark George, Founder, Executive Director and Visionary of 4 Heroes 4 Life. Our organization was born out of a lifetime journey through pain, hardship, and behavioral health challenges. As a First Responder, Firefighter and Deputy Fire Marshal with the City of San Diego for 23 years, I witnessed first-hand the challenges facing the job we do every day and the recognition that it can be an unforgiving profession. I was blessed to make it 23 years, but collateral damage along the way took its toll. My own personal journey through physical and emotional traumas provides the passion for our mission of Genuine Goodwill to help our nation’s Heroes and their Families.

 

My Journey

 

In my first year as a Firefighter, I was called to the scene of the worst mass shooting in our country at the time, the San Ysidro Massacre in 1984. During my experience in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway CV-41, I was challenged by another traumatizing incident. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been compromised by these experiences. So much so that it took me years to understand I had been struggling with the silent wounds of PTSD.

 

In addition, I suffered with chronic pain from 18 surgeries due to injuries sustained while working as a First Responder and in Public Service. Along the way, these physical and behavioral challenges, and the battle over a grave injustice, cost me my livelihood, two marriages, 5 kids (two of my own and 3 adopted), and now 7 grandkids. I became unemployable and lived in homeless shelters. There were many dark days and countless “triggers” keeping my PTSD switch “on.” With every tragedy, fires with tragic loss of life such as the nightclub fire in Brazil (2013), the Oakland warehouse ‘Ghost Ship’ fire (2016), and the Grenfell Tower fire in London (2017), and mass shootings such as the one in Las Vegas, I struggle to keep in balance as I relive my own horrific traumas.

 

HOWEVER, despite my difficult journey, I do NOT call myself a victim. I knew that I had a choice to be ‘sour grapes’ or to ‘make lemonade’ and I chose the latter. Through a LIFE purpose and commitment, I have dedicated myself to NOT letting another family go through what my own family and I have been through. I looked in the mirror and saw not a victim, but instead, I called myself a Hero. 4 Heroes 4 Life is the life path toward Hope and Healing for myself, my family, and others.

 

We are Heroes Helping Heroes extending a 4Life-line to our Heroes and their Families so that they may not only heal, but thrive. We support a total of eight Heroes Communities, including Veterans because I am one, but our focus now is on our nation’s First Responders. 

First Responders Community

Recently, our Community of First Responders has been recognized for the life-saving job we do. We appreciate the honor and long-awaited thanks from the public and from corporations like Verizon, with its recent ad honoring First Responders. The NFL and Justin Timberlake prominently displayed a campaign to thank our First Responders during the 2018 Super Bowl. These gestures of thanks and appreciation are near and dear to my heart, and to those of other First Responders. We are grateful for the accolades, yet we know intimately of the all too real struggles of First Responders and their families. As a grassroots movement, we are here to do something about it. We have been called to service for the very Heroes that serve us, for who is there for them if not us? 

Cause and Purpose

4 Heroes 4 Life brings Hope and Healing through programs around behavioral health, including PTSD and Suicide Prevention. In the same way Wounded Warriors Project helps Veterans, we serve our First Responder Heroes on the Front Lines. I was fortunate to go through one of the top PTSD programs in the nation at Stanford University. It was there I learned many tools I can use to help with my own behavioral health challenges. We strive to provide this kind of life-sustaining help for our Heroes.

 

We currently partnering with these critical programs in support of our First Responders:

 

·       Jeff Dill’s Firefighters Behavioral Health Alliance - Saving Those Who Save Others

·       100Club - Financial assistance to wounded or killed Public Safety Officers and Firefighters

·       National Police Suicide Foundation - Support and education for police/emergency responders

·       Steve Mercado Foundation - Honoring friend and firefighter who perished saving others on 9/11

 

We have humbly received this Vision to form the 4Heroes4Life-line Group, with three pillars consisting of an Enterprising side, a Special Events side, and our 4Life-line Foundation of programs. As a student at San Diego State University, I was told my “business plan” using a for profit to support a nonprofit could not work. Now it’s called Social Enterprise. We raise funds through products and services to support our programs. Just like Newman’s Own, TOMS Shoes, and Girl Scout Cookies, we dedicate the money we raise to our CAUSE. 50% of all money earned will be committed to our programs. We choose NOT to rely on government funds, but rather on the Genuine Goodwill of all those who join us as partners on our mission to “See a need, Solve a need.” With our Cause and Purpose, we will join with Community to help many Heroes and their Families.

 

Our mission is to reach out to a Hero and his or her Family extending a 4Life-line for Hope and Healing. We teach ourselves to fish, so we can teach others to fish. We plant seeds so others can grow their own. As we put our first Hero through our 4Life-line Incubator, we will help others to help themselves with their own business enterprises. 

Help Us Help Others

We are asking for your help for our Heroes and their Families. Join with us so that no other Hero and their Family has to endure the same hardships that my family and I went through. On our website, you will find the many ways you can support our First Responders and their Families with life-sustaining services through your purchases and participation in our very Special Events.

 

4Life-line United We Band - Unique bands that proudly display unity for humankind

Buy a Bag for $1 Campaign - Support our 4Life-line Recycling Program

 

We are dedicated to Genuine Goodwill. Our purpose is uplifted through the strong bonds of our hometown community in San Diego, and especially with the heartbreaking loss of a dear childhood friend and community mainstay, the dream now has wings. I believe in my heart that we as human beings are more alike than different and that together, we CAN change the world, one heart at a time. I still struggle to this day, but the gift of Faith and Love has given me the Hope to persevere through a horrible journey. I do see hope, hope for healing of myself, my family, and hope for others, who with our help can avoid some of the roadblocks and pitfalls that we have experienced, so that they may heal as well. ONLY by the Grace of God am I still here.

 

Peace and Love,

 

Mark George

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