59° Good Morning
59° Good Morning

FDNY, NYPD widows’ charity raises funds to help others

Answer the Call volunteers Susie Gruda, 33, left,

Answer the Call volunteers Susie Gruda, 33, left, Chase Altenbern, 27, and Katie McGovern, 25, wrap gifts at a Barnes & Noble store in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

For Katie McGovern, it’s about giving back.

McGovern, 25, will never forget the love her Smithtown family received the Christmas after the death of her father, FDNY Battalion Chief William McGovern. And every year that followed.

He died on Sept. 11, 2001, responding to the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

On Saturday, Katie McGovern was one of several volunteers wrapping gifts in Manhattan to raise money for Answer the Call -- the nonprofit that helped her family.

The charity gives financial and network support to hundreds of widows and children whose NYPD, FDNY and Port Authority husbands and fathers died in the line of duty.

“After 9/11, we had our struggles, and I remembered the people who were loving and supportive, and I want to do the same for the other families,” said McGovern, who was wrapping books and toys for holiday shoppers with her mother at the Barnes & Noble store in Union Square.

“It feels good to give back to an organization that did so much for us, and doing service work during the holidays also gives me a good feeling,” said McGovern, who noticed shoppers dropping $20 donations in their box.

Her mother, Mary McGovern, said: “We were helped by so many organizations, and the financial help we received helped my daughter go to college.”

Katie McGovern, who recently graduated, said she plans to earn an advanced degree in mental health counseling from New York University.

Answer the Call, also known as the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, has distributed more than $130 million to nearly 600 families since it started in 1985.

This year, the charity has distributed more than $3.6 million to families, including survivors of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder, who was posthumously promoted to detective after he was shot by an armed robber in October.

“We are the only organization that stays with the family,” said Loren Profeta, a spokeswoman for the charity, which was founded by former Mets player Rusty Staub. The charity gives an initial $25,000 to each family, and $6,000 annually after that.

The annual aid is a reminder to families and their children that “people remember your dad for their ultimate sacrifice,” Profeta said.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos