[StBernard] Slidell, St. Bernard firefighters welcome donations to help them say 'Thank You' again

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Fri Aug 17 20:52:41 EDT 2012

Slidell, St. Bernard firefighters welcome donations to help them say 'Thank
You' again

Published: Friday, August 17, 2012, 9:00 AM

By Carol Wolfram

Tiny stickers representing a hurricane and several tornadoes dot the side
panel of St. Tammany Fire Protection District 1 fire prevention officer Erik
Kreppein's Chevrolet pickup truck. Each of the unique markings represents a
disaster that has occurred in the United States that has been followed by
the compassionate, voluntary response of firefighters from throughout St.
Tammany and St. Bernard parishes.

Kreppein's next sticker will be a symbol representing snow skiing, as the
Slidell-based New York Says Thank You Foundation, or NYSTY, team's next stop
is North Dakota.

That is where firefighters from throughout the nation will converge to
complete a "bucket list" project that was the dream of Ann Nicole Nelson, a
resident of Bottineau, N.D., who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th
floor of the World Trade Center. Nelson was among those whose lives were
taken on 9/11 and, Kreppein noted, was the only person from her home state
to perish in the World Trade Center attacks.

Annie's House, an adaptive ski lodge to teach disabled children and wounded
warriors how to ski, was a vision included on Nelson's personal "bucket
list" of to-do actions that was discovered on her laptop computer after her

In addition to the Annie's House project, NYSTY volunteers will rebuild two
homes in the nearby town of Minot, N.D., where a 100-year flood last July
destroyed more than 4,000 homes. "It is the first level-5 FEMA disaster
since Hurricane Katrina and almost no one in the country knows that the
folks in Minot need help," NYSTY spokesman Jeff Parness noted.

Kreppein and 21 other firefighters from St. Tammany and St. Bernard will be
among the NYSTY volunteers working on three projects in two locations over
one extended weekend in September.

The impressive scope of the project comes as no surprise to Kreppein, who,
eight years ago, was the sole local participant in the NYSTY mission to "pay
forward" the gift New York City firefighters received after 9/11. Since that
time, Kreppein has worked on related projects in Georgia, California,
Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Kansas and Iowa.

The New York Says Thank You Foundation was established in 2003 and has grown
to include more than 500 volunteers.

"In 2005, our community and region was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In
the months that followed, we were all fortunate and blessed to receive an
incredible amount of help and support from every corner of our great country
by people ready to lend us a hand in our recovery," Kreppein explained. "In
that spirit of giving, our local firefighters have continued the tradition
of 'paying it forward,' giving a helping hand to another community in need."

Kreppein said he is proud of the dedication of the local firefighters, many
who use their vacation time to participate in the projects and have, in past
years, driven to the disaster scenes in their own vehicles, pulling trailers
filled with construction tools and equipment from their own homes. The
Slidell firefighters also have become well-known among the NYSTY volunteer
brigade as the "go-to" participants on site, Kreppein said. Last year, the
Slidell team was among the firefighters featured in a documentary film, "New
York Says Thank You: The Movie," which premiered at the Tribeca Film
Festival in Tribeca, New York. Kreppein was on hand for its red carpet

Kreppein said he is equally proud of the community for its support of the
local firefighters, 22 of whom will be spending Sept. 9-10 in the Minot and
Bottineau, N.D., communities. "It's the longest trip we've ever been on,"
Kreppein noted, adding that the majority of the participating firefighters
are flying to North Dakota, which is adding to their lodging and meal

"We have been fortunate in years past to receive generous donations from
individuals, businesses and civic groups that made it possible for us to
make these trips each year, " Kreppein said, adding that the outreach is
backed each year by Fire District 1 and Local 2455, Slidell Firefighters

Those wanting to assist this mission are invited to send donations made
payable to the Slidell Firefighters Association to St. Tammany Fire District
1, 1358 Corporate Square Blvd., Slidell, LA 70458.

Additional information also is available by calling Kreppein at
985.788.6294; St. Tammany Fire District 1 at 985.646.4387; or Capt. Eric
Abney at 985.290.0481.

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