Monday, February 25, 2013

Generations of Service

Brooks Brothers has a long, proud tradition of supporting the American Red Cross. The relationship between the clothing retailer and the humanitarian organization goes back to 1898 when Brooks Brothers made a financial contribution to the Red Cross during the Spanish-American War.

Today the Golden Fleece Foundation, Brooks Brothers’ non-profit arm which manages its charitable endeavors, carries on this tradition. The Foundation aims to create a “culture of caring” within the Brooks Brothers organization by giving back to the communities it serves. 

The Red Cross has found a staunch partner in Brooks Brothers. The retailer hosts Red Cross blood drives, encourages volunteerism within its workforce, creates and carries out customer donation programs and provides direct financial support for Red Cross programs and services. Brooks Brothers’ support extends to almost every Red Cross line of service, including the Service to the Armed Forces program that helps military members and their families, blood services, and local, national and international disaster response.

Spearheading this modern-day relationship is Emilie Antonetti, vice president and managing director of the Golden Fleece Foundation.

“Personally, I hold the same ideals as the Foundation,” she said.

Accompanied by her 16-year-old niece, Katie Stratton, Antonetti recently visited a Red Cross feeding site in Howard Beach, Queens, a community deeply impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

“I wanted to see service delivery first-hand and interact with those affected by Sandy in person,” explained Antonetti. “I also wanted to share the experience with Katie; imparting to her ideals that have so much meaning for me.”

Overseen by Tommi Patterson and Billy York, two long-time Red Cross volunteers, Antonetti and her niece spent the afternoon serving lunch to local residents still reeling from the effects of Sandy.

For several hours a steady stream of people, mostly elderly residents, came to the Red Cross mobile feeding truck to collect meals and snacks. On the menu when Antonetti and her niece were serving: chicken, corn and mashed potatoes. 

“Each day, the residents are lined up here, waiting for us when we arrive at 10:45 am,” said Patterson. “The financial strain Sandy has put on these folks makes buying food really difficult.”

This was the first time Stratton had helped people in need face-to-face. Originally apprehensive about what to expect, Stratton felt real empathy for those she knew were suffering. 

“It was sad to see people hurting,” she said. “I’m glad we were able to help them in some way.”

Antonetti, who embodies the humanitarian ideals the Red Cross stands for, was glad to give her niece an opportunity to see and practice compassion in action. And thanks to her leadership at Brooks Brothers, the retailer’s tradition of service should continue for years to come.

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