Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation teams up with EndDD.org to eliminate distracted and impaired driving
Firehouse Subs has become much more than just a restaurant chain. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Southeast, the company’s co-founders, Chris and Robin Sorensen, visited Mississippi and provided meals to survivors and first-responders. Being former first-responders themselves, the Sorensen brothers were inspired by the relentless work and effort involved in the aftermath of the disaster and quickly established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to provide local heroes the equipment to better serve their communities.
Recently, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has played a significant role in raising awareness of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. In 2015, Firehouse Subs’ CFE Greg Delks lost his daughter Morgan due to impaired driving, devastating the Firehouse Subs community. With the shock of her passing, the Foundation established the Mermaids for Morgan restricted fund. [View the video about Morgan and Mermaids for Morgan here.]
Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation spreads the message of safe driving
However, this was just the beginning of a battle to end impaired and distracted driving. The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to the Casey Feldman Foundation as part of their prevention education efforts. The generous funding enabled EndDD.org to reach an additional 4,800 students, teachers and parents with its end distracted driving presentation and create a book for children to be used in EndDD’s upcoming elementary school program. Firehouse Subs’ support also made possible the creation of a public service announcement video by high school student filmmaker, Ben Cerauli. The new PSA, used in EndDD presentations and at traffic safety conferences, “Lets End Distracted Driving—It’s a Matter of Respect”, examines respect as a core value and why it should be another reason to drive without distraction.
Collaborating with Joel Feldman, father of Casey Feldman and founder of EndDD.org, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has spread the message of safe driving not only to its nationwide franchisee family but, also to a number of organizations, schools, and communities in and around Jacksonville, Florida. “Doing presentations with the Foundation has been wonderful,” said Joel Feldman. “Whether it is a school presentation, or a business presentation, it is clear from the reception we get just how valued a member of the community the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation is.” The Foundation has even awarded DUI/impaired driving simulators to first-responders in hopes of sharing them with their communities. With several tools to educate the public about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has made the roads safer for Jacksonville drivers and beyond.
The Foundation has awarded over $44 million in grants, primarily to first responders
Since the Foundation’s establishment in 2005, the nonprofit has awarded over $44 million in grants, with funding in five specific areas: lifesaving equipment, prevention education, scholarships and continued education, support for members of the military, and disaster preparedness and relief. Executive Director of the Foundation, Robin Peters, explained the importance of working with first-responders, claiming that “[they] are forced to make do with older equipment or do not have the financial resources to purchase the equipment their department desperately needs. Our goal is to ensure we’re able to impact local communities by providing life-saving tools, technology, and training to protect and save lives.”
This initiative has reached far and wide, as the Foundation has provided more than 3,725 public safety organizations with funding for equipment and resources. With the proper tools and training, these local heroes have gone on to save countless lives. Yet, the Foundation’s efforts are not only intended for first-responders; by targeting local communities as well, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has kept everyone healthier and safer on a larger scale.
However, the path to philanthropy was not always easy for the Foundation, which was significantly smaller 10 years ago. Starting as a $750,000 a year nonprofit, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was only able to give out around 60 grants per year. Peters looked back on this time, claiming, “grant denials were some of the toughest moments for us.” This is still an issue for the Foundation, which has grown to an $11 million a year nonprofit and awards more than six times its initial grants: “We currently receive more grant requests than we have funding to award. We’re always working to bridge that gap and be in a position where we can help more first responders and public safety organizations,” said Peters.
A portion of all Firehouse Subs’ purchases supports the Foundation
You can help Firehouse Subs save more lives and embrace the culture of philanthropy by purchasing pickle buckets or simply stopping in for a bite at a Firehouse Subs restaurant. Pickle buckets may be purchased for a donation to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Moreover, for all of 2019, the Firehouse Subs will donate a portion of your purchase to the Foundation. You can also round up your purchase to the nearest dollar and donate the difference. Through efforts like these, Firehouse Subs has been able to fund more than 100 grants each quarter. Treat yourself to a delicious sandwich next time you’re in a Firehouse Subs, and you’ll be making a great difference in the wellbeing of communities nationwide.
*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.