9/11 charity to help families of fallen COVID-19 responders with mortgage payments
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced the names of five more first responders whose families will receive support
By Laura French
NEW YORK — The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an organization established to support first responders and their families after 9/11, will provide financial support to families of first responders who died from COVID-19 through temporary mortgage payments.
The foundation announced in a press release the names of five more fallen first responders whose families who will be receiving support, including:
- NYPD Detective Ray Abear, a 19-year veteran of the Queens Special Victims Squad;
- Passaic (N.J.) Firefighter-EMT Israel Tolentino, who worked as a full-time EMT for the fire department for 15 years before becoming a firefighter in 2018;
- New Rochelle (N.Y.) Fire Capt. Andrew DiMaggio, a 31-year fire service veteran who was also a Westchester County fire instructor;
- Terre Haute (Ind.) Firefighter-Paramedic John Schoffstall, a nearly 12-year veteran of his department; and
- Registered Nurse Carolyn Ettinger, who was the director of nursing at the Verrazano Nursing Home in Staten Island
"Assisting our family to help pay our mortgage means that we can remain in the home that Andy built for us over the last 25 years," said DiMaggio's widow Eileen, in a statement. "It alleviates a financial stress that will allow our family to celebrate his life."
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation established its COVID-19 Heroes Fund to support first responders and healthcare workers during the pandemic and to provide financial relief to the families of frontline personnel who have died due to the virus, according to its website. The foundation has raised $5 million toward the initiative and plans to provide temporary mortgage payments to a total of 34 families in 11 states. It has also donated more than 100,000 meals and more than 2 million pieces of PPE to first responders.
The foundation was established in memory of FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, who died in the line of duty in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The charity has spent a total of $250 million since its founding to support first responders, veterans and their families.
"The COVID-19 Heroes Fund means security, compassion, love, kindness and overall honor," said Maria Vasquez, Tolentino's widow, in a statement.