2021 Year in Review

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Believe 271 Foundation, Inc.
2021 Year in Review

The Believe 271 Foundation Inc. was founded in March 2014 by a group of volunteer fire service leaders in Oneida County and Herkimer counties with one goal in mind and that is to assist volunteer firefighters and ladies auxiliary members beat cancer. Just this past month the IAFF announced that occupational cancer is now the leading cause of deaths among firefighters across our nation.

Since its formation in 2014, the Believe 271 Foundation Inc. has awarded $306,272.00 in checks/gifts to 90 recipients. Thanks to our founding team of Brian Healey, Brian DeStefanis, Brian Palmer, Brian McQueen and our past and present Board members, our Foundation has grown to become one of the premier supporters of volunteer firefighter and ladies auxiliary members battling cancer and life-threatening illnesses in this two-county region.

Due to the unending generous donors from these two counties and across this state and nation, the Foundation has been able to meet the ever-changing times in our society to continue the mission that no one will ever fight cancer alone again. Whether the donation is from a fire department, ladies auxiliary, business or someone off the street, every dollar taken in is returned through gifts to those in need. Our all-volunteer Board works tirelessly as you will see in this report to carry on the mission and vision formed by our founding members. We cannot say THANK YOU enough for believing in our mission and believing that after all is said and done, each and every one of you have made a lasting impression on the lives of so many struggling to see tomorrow.

Events: Our Foundation like so many others had to make some unique changes to our events due to COVID restrictions this past year. However, this year volunteer fire departments have made monetary donations to our Foundation reassuring our mission through various fund-raising events held within their departments and communities.

In February we held a Bowling Tournament in Boonville and in the spring a Fishing Raffle both coordinated for our Foundation by Rusty Yauger. Both events were very successful, and we would like to thank those who participated or bought tickets. Thanks goes out to the owners of Boonville Bowl and the Boonville FD for assisting us in this endeavor. Brian Palmer and Jim Kuhn assisted with the Fishing Raffle as well.

Usually in January the Western Fire Department sponsors a Bowling Tournament for our Foundation. But, due to COVID this had to be moved to the spring. This tournament is coordinated by our board member Fred Sherman and his team of firefighters from Western. Once again, this event provided our Foundation with a check in support of our mission. This will be held on the third Friday of January 2022. Special thanks to the staff at Vista Lanes for their support.

We kicked off another golf cart raffle this summer. This golf cart was designed by board member Jeff Abrial and his team at the Otter Lake FD. Brian and Mia coordinated the arrangement for the raffle tickets, and we were able to sell these tickets throughout the summer and part of the fall. A special thanks to Station 233 The Simple Bar on Route 233 in Westmoreland for allowing us to host the golf cart at their location and hold our Facebook live drawing. Also, a special thanks to Jon Barrett and the Cicero FD for assisting us in selling these tickets again this year.

In June, Red Knights Motorcycle Group held its "Ride for Bud" in conjunction with the Westmoreland Fire Department. This Ride continues to grow with over 200 riders travelling across two counties to bring recognition to the firefighter cancer epidemic. Dan and Betsy Schwertfeger took the lead on this event which provided each rider with a special patch designed by Brian Palmer, Justin Yourdon, and Boulevard Graphics.

Due to the COVID regulations here in New York, the NYSAFC Show in Syracuse had to be moved from June to July. Once again, our Merchandise Team and board members manned the booth at this show selling our merchandise for the Foundation. Thanks goes out to the leadership of the NYSAFC and Sue Revoir for allowing us to be a part of this outstanding event. Also, again in July the New Hartford Truck Show was held during the same week as the State Chiefs Show and Jim and Brenda Kuhn handled the table for us during that event. Thanks to the leadership of the NHFD for allowing us to be a part of this community event.

On July 31, 2021, our Foundation lost a man that assisted us in building the fiscal piece of our Foundation, Robert "Bob" LeBuis. Bob, better known as "Mr. Proceeds Man" was a person who led by example in so many ways. He was at every event we held making sure that we had everything we needed to make the event a success. To say we miss this man is truly an understatement. His example of leadership continues to live within each of our board members.

In July, Christy and Eric DeKing, along with the Bridgewater FD, held their annual Believe 271 Walk/Run once again. This event continually raises funds for our Foundation and brings so many walkers and runners to this event each year. If you have not participated plan on it in 2022.

In August, we held out 8 th Annual Believe 271 Foundation Golf Tournament at the Skenandoa Golf Course. We cannot thank our major sponsors for this event: Churchville Fire Equipment, NYS Tool Company and all of our other mid-level sponsors and hole sponsors for once again making this a huge success. Thanks to our board present as well as those who assisted with the cart deliveries and special hole events. Our Golf Balls from Heaven once again provide financial assistance to the Floyd Fire Chief who is in a courageous battle with cancer. Brian and Sarah McQueen were the lead on this tournament. This tournament has been renamed to the Believe 271 Robert LeBuis Memorial Golf Tournament to be held on July 31, 2022 at Skenandoa Golf Course.

September brought us to Old Forge Fire School where we were able to have a sale of our merchandise in our trailer. We cannot thank Jack Graham and his team at the OFFD for all that they do to get us involved in this event over the past seven years. This year Christy and Eric DeKing worked with the staff at OFFD to once again hold a walk/run for our Foundation. While the numbers were not what we expected, the sponsorships collected in the Old Forge region by the OFFD, Christy and Eric made this event one of the best! Thanks to Jeff, Sarah, Donna, Keith, Christy, Eric, Betsy, Dan, Melanie Perry, Kevin Kalk for assisting us with the trailer and sales this weekend. Thank you to all who walked with us in the parade.

In October we had planned to hold our 3 rd Pink Tie Gala. The Board decided that due to the restrictions in place for COVID, this event would be postponed until 2022. We have worked with Harts Hill Inn and this event will be held on October 15, 2022 from 6:00pm-11:00pm. We are working on the entertainment for that evening, and we will have more on this as the year progresses.

On October 30 at noon, we held our 4 th Annual New York State Believe Bowl in conjunction with the Utica College Pioneers. Lt. Kelby Ueltschi and FF Gabe Streif were the two volunteer firefighter Captains for this game. I was so proud of the job that they did throughout the week and at the game. Both the leadership of the Barneveld and Floyd fire departments should stand tall with the battle these two men have gone through.

In the fall Utica College Coach Blaise Faggiano and his staff did an online retro jersey sale with all proceeds going to the Believe 271 Foundation and the local American Cancer Society. At the Thursday press conference for the game Coach Faggiano presented the Foundation with a check in the amount of $3,000 from the sale. Next year this event will be held the first game for the season on September 3 at 7:00pm. We are in the talking stages with the Hope in Action group to come on board for the game next year. They provide gifts and baskets to the local cancer children and the children at the Golisano Cancer Center. Keep an ear out for a new event at the game: Fill the Fire Truck!

Also, in October we updated our website with the most updated information on the New York State Cancer Law. We included the application that volunteer firefighters can use to apply for this coverage. This law now in place for approximately three years has been a huge help in assisting volunteer firefighters battling cancer.

Appropriations Committee: The Board rewrote the guidelines for the Appropriations Committee in hopes of expediting our gifting, while providing transparency of decisions for our entire board. This committee meets via Zoom prior to our monthly meeting, discussing applications and doing additional legwork if needed to arrive at a set amount.

Finance Committee: Having been impacted by COVID restrictions and the loss of one of our main fund raisers for this year, we added some board members to this committee to look at our future gifting vision. We reviewed the not-for-profit requirements for Foundations in New York State and updated our fiscal piece to meet those requirements. We added new members to this committee due to the resignation of some board members. This committee also met with a financial planner to begin to review our finances. We needed to develop am Investment Policy required for not-for-profit investment needs. This policy was adopted at our November meeting. The goal of this committee is to develop a long-range plan that would assure the mission of this Foundation continues in the long run.

In closing let me say that the Believe 271 Foundation Inc., is dedicated to continuing the mission for many years to come. This would not be possible if it were not for the continued support that we received from all of you in our Believe family and extended family. This Foundation was always built on the power of teamwork. From the very beginning, this Foundation has been fortunate to partner with many generous fire departments, organizations, businesses, and corporations who share our mission. We are proud to work with those who are dedicated to helping us realize the dream all volunteer firefighters have for beating cancer.

We thank those serving, those who served on our board in the past and those who continue to battle occupational cancer and life-threatening illness for without you this mission of helping others would not be possible.

You Gotta Believe!

Respectfully submitted,
Brian McQueen - President
Fred Sherman - Vice President
Donna Grems - Treasurer / Corresponding Secretary
Betsy Schwertfeger - Recording Secretary

Jeff Abrial, Christy DeKing, Eric DeKing, Dan Mabbett, Sarah McQueen, Dan Schwertfeger, Dean Yauger

In Memory of Robert LeBuis, Treasurer- Emeritus