(Author of Find the Helpers) Fred Guttenberg makes a guest appearance on The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan podcast.
On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Mitchell Kaplan talks to Fred Guttenberg about his new book, Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me about Recovery, Purpose, and Hope.
From the episode:
Fred Guttenberg: We’re going to have to get through some really challenging times politically. But these kids are coming. And they will be the legislators of tomorrow. And they have a really different idea about what America and Americans are. Really democratic ideas, really inclusive ideas, and they want to fight for their safety, for the safety of kids they may bring into the world; they want to fight for the planet. Because they have to spend a lot more time on this earth than we will, and their kids will have to. They really do want to lead. And I am so hopeful, because they have morals and values that should give us all pride.
Fred Guttenberg began his public life after the murder of his beautiful fourteen-year-old daughter Jaime in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on Feb 14, 2018. The day after the murder, Fred decided to attend a public vigil. While there, the mayor asked him to speak. His words shook a nation and he has not stopped since. Only four months prior to the murder of his daughter, Fred’s brother Michael passed away in October 2017 from cancer related to his service in 9/11 in New York City. He was one of the original first responders at the World Trade Center with a team of doctors who got trapped in the WTC as it collapsed. Amazingly, the room that they hid out in did not collapse and Michael and his team of physicians spent sixteen days at ground zero taking care of others.
Following his involvement in these two distinctly American tragedies, Fred has traveled the country talking about both events but also talking about perspective, perseverance, and resilience. He discusses pivotal moments in our lives and how we respond to those moments, using his speech to inspire others. Prior to these events, Fred Guttenberg’s professional life included over a decade in sales and management with Johnson & Johnson, followed by almost fifteen years as an entrepreneur, having built a business including nineteen Dunkin Donuts. Fred and his wife Jennifer now spend time challenging elected officials to do more. They began a nonprofit organization dedicated to Jaime’s life called “Orange Ribbons for Jaime.” He has been a regular on TV news programs and myriad online and print media. The nonprofit is now his full-time mission.
What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope
Life changed forever on Valentine’s Day 2018. What was to be a family day celebrating love turned into a nightmare. Thirty-four people were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Jaime Guttenberg, a fourteen-year-old with a huge heart, was the second to last victim. That she and so many of her fellow students were struck down in cold blood galvanized many to action, including Jaime’s father Fred who has become an activist dedicated to passing common sense gun safety legislation.
Fred was already struggling with deep personal loss. Four months earlier his brother Michael died of 9/11 induced pancreatic cancer. He had been exposed to so much dust and chemicals at Ground Zero, the damage caught up with him. Michael battled heroically for nearly five years and then died at age fifty.