Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope (School Safety, Grief Recovery)

Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope (School Safety, Grief Recovery)

Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope (School Safety, Grief Recovery)

Find the Helpers: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope (School Safety, Grief Recovery)


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How a Parkland Dad and 9/11 Brother Faced Tragedy

"Don't tell me there's no such thing as gun violence. It happened in Parkland." ―Fred Guttenberg

2020 Nautilus Silver Winner
2021 Chanticleer Hearten Awards First Place Winner

Life changed forever on Valentine's Day 2018 for Fred Guttenberg and his family. What should have been a day of love turned into a nightmare. Seventeen people died at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Fourteen-year-old Jaime Guttenberg was the second to last victim.

“Fred Guttenberg is a hero." ―Lawrence O'Donnell.  That Jaime and so many of her fellow students were struck down in cold blood galvanized many to action, including Jaime’s father Fred now a gun safety 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 too much dust and chemicals at Ground Zero. Michael battled heroically for nearly five years and then died at age fifty.

Find the Helpers has a special meaning to the Guttenberg’s. It was a beloved family wisdom learned from watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In the midst of tragedy, "always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers. Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know there’s hope." ―Fred Rogers, 1999

Healing from grief. Discover the story of Fred Guttenberg’s activist’s journey since Jaime’s death and how he has been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the kindness and compassion of others. Good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people─and the world is filled with them. They include everyone from amazing gun violence survivors Fred has met to former VP Joe Biden, who spent time talking to him about finding mission and purpose in learning to grieve.

If you enjoyed Eyes to the WindHaben, or The Beauty in Breaking, you'll love Find the Helpers!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781642505351
Publisher: Mango
Publication date: 09/22/2020
Pages: 198
Sales rank: 1,076,604
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

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.

Bradley Whitford is an American film and television actor. He has played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the NBC television drama The West Wing, Danny Tripp on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Dan Stark in the Fox police buddy-comedy The Good Guys, Timothy Carter, a character who was believed to be Red John in the CBS series The Mentalist, and antagonist Eric Gordon in the film Billy Madison. Whitford was nominated for three consecutive Emmy Awards from 2001 to 2003 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role on The West Wing, winning the award in 2001. This role has also garnered him three consecutive Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. He received a second Emmy Award in 2015 for his role in Transparent. In addition to acting, Whiford is also a political writer and activist. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

Find the helpers. They will assist you in ways you can’t imagine or didn’t expect. They don’t have to be high-powered politicians like Pelosi or people with great wealth. They can be your loved ones, your family members, your neighbors, your colleagues, your church or temple congregation, or even total strangers. Whatever hardship you’re going through, you can’t get through it alone. The night Jaime was killed, her dance sisters made orange ribbons in her memory—orange was Jaime’s favorite color. That was an inspiration in itself, but then a picture of the girls wearing their ribbons went viral on social media. Within 24 hours, people all around the dance world were wearing orange ribbons. A Los Angeles-area mom came up with the idea to wear orange ribbons at their competitions. Professional dancers at the American Ballet Theatre posted on Instagram showing orange ribbons affixed to their costumes. Broadway shows like Lion King and Hamilton honored Jaime by wearing orange ribbons. Seeing all of this support for Jaime helped us get through that rough first week—and inspired us to start her foundation, Orange Ribbons for Jaime.

Romper writer Jen McGuire beautifully covered the orange ribbon tribute, “All over the country this weekend, people will be dancing for Jaime. She'll be present in auditoriums, in concert halls, in theaters and dance studios. The memory of Jaime Guttenberg and the senseless violence that cut her life so terribly short will spread through the country, one orange ribbon at a time. It's a lovely tribute, one her family might appreciate through the terrible fog of their own crippling grief. Wearing an orange ribbon for Jaime will keep her memory alive, even as her family plans her funeral. Because I guess that's the cold, awful reality, isn't it?”

In February 2020, days after the two year mark of our loss, we held a fundraiser and three comedians (Jessica Kirson, Jim Breuer, and Alonzo Bodden) volunteered their time to raise money for our cause. Everyone who attended said that they had not laughed like that in years—that included me and my family. Being able to laugh with our loved ones, our friends, and our community was a healing moment that will not be forgotten. More helpers from unexpected places.

This book is not about gun safety or Parkland. Instead, it tells the story of the journey I’ve been on since Jaime’s death and how I’ve been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the love and kindness of others. I tell the story of my family life, my brother Michael’s illness and untimely death, and the story of what happened to my family and our community. Despite these very hard subjects, this book looks forward. You need to know, despite how hard it’s been, I got this. What’s more, You got this.

I know what it’s like—you turn on the TV or click on social media and maybe all you want to do sometimes is crawl under the covers. But hang on and look past the noise. You can get through these moments when they happen, whatever the moments in your life may be, as long as you look for the helpers. So much of what I’ve learned these past few years is how amazing and decent people are. I have been truly amazed by those I’ve known for years, those I have gotten to know, people in media, and people in politics—and the extent of their thoughtfulness and compassion.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“While Find the Helpers is not a conventional ‘political book,’ Fred Guttenberg is the father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, whose life has inherently become political since that tragic day on February 14, 2018. Intertwining his experiences losing his brother during 9/11 and his fourteen-year-old daughter to gun violence, Guttenberg show readers how to find hope within the darkness and fight to make lasting change.
Marie Claire magazine

“Fred Guttenberg has lived through the unimaginable. The shooting death of his beautiful daughter Jaime in Parkland was reported all over the world. It is impossible to know the anguish that Fred carries after such a catastrophic loss, but because of this beautiful book, we are shown the way toward hope, belief in the good of humanity, and discovering purpose. Through his story we meet all the Helpers who helped carry his pain when he couldn’t, and we see Fred, now strong and focused, a fierce leader and compassionate Helper.”
—Debra Messing

“No one should experience what Fred Guttenberg has, not once but twice. Fred has taken searing loss and made it a mission. His story is extraordinary, perhaps all the more so because he didn't seek anything more than a good life for his loved ones, a simple, ordinary happiness and togetherness. Fred Guttenberg is a dad and brother whose deep love for his family was put to the test by the crucible of grief, shock, and pain. He took that and turned it into a passion for taking a stand and making a difference. May you be inspired by Fred's book Find the Helpers. I know I am.”
—Alyssa Milano

"Fred Guttenberg’s life with his family before Valentine's Day 2018 sounds almost magical. He had two wonderful children, a loving wife, a successful track record as a businessman, and he lived in Parkland, Florida, a community considered one of the safest in the nation. That all changed on Feb. 14, 2018, when his daughter Jaime was killed in her classroom along with sixteen other students and teachers. Like so many others who are survivors of gun violence, there was Fred's life before losing Jaime and Fred's life afterward. This book talks about his life afterward, but in doing so it affirms something much bigger. This book is so important because it lifts up the essential role of ‘helpers’—friends, neighbors, fellow advocates, elected officials, and even strangers—without whom real change, and the energy necessary to be a change agent, would be impossible. In the disconnected, now socially isolated world in which we live, Fred reaffirms the central importance of real human connection, often at the most random moments, that can make the difference between marching on or giving up. As I write this, our nation is experiencing an awakening of consciousness to profoundly disturbing issues. I hope all who want to make a change in this world for the better read this amazing book and understand how ‘helpers’ made a difference in Fred's life and how every one of us has a role in creating the change we want to see in the world. Simply being a ‘helper’ can be the secret ingredient, the catalyst, for the real and sustaining changes needed to make our world a better and safer place for everyone."
—Kris Brown, President of Brady

“If you’re looking to discover the best of us during the worst of times, read Fred Guttenberg’s Find the Helpers. Fred shares his journey of unimaginable grief at losing his brother to a 9/11-related illness and his daughter at Parkland. Yet, from Fred’s loss, we read about his strength to not only find the helpers around him, but to become one to others.”
—Congressman Eric Swalwell

“The author has crafted a heartbreaking and inspirational story that had me in tears on more than one occasion as he recounts Michael’s and Jaime’s stories. His ability to move forward and stay focused is impressive, but even Guttenberg admits, there are some really tough days. Indeed, grief is touched upon throughout Find the Helpers and everyone deals with grief in different ways. There is no normal way to navigate loss, but it is possible to move forward and make the world a better place. Fred Guttenberg is living proof.”

"Hopefully, this book will move you, upset you, enrage you, and, ultimately, inspire you to be the best ‘Helper’ you can be. Because life is so much better for those who are helped AND for those who do the helping. Fred suffered the ultimate loss and chose to turn it into the ultimate mission: to protect our children from gun violence. As a career homicide prosecutor, I had the unimaginable privilege of working with hundreds of ‘homicide families.’ No family should ever have to bear that horrific label. Yet once a family suffers the loss of a loved one to violent crime, some feel that the label ‘homicide family’ will forever define them. Fred is living proof that we need not be defined by our darkest day. In his painful yet ultimately uplifting memoir, Fred Guttenberg is a living tribute to the triumph of purpose over tragedy. And he has helped us all."
—Glenn Kirschner, Legal Analyst and Former US Army prosecutor

"We each have something to learn from Fred Guttenberg. Amid heartbreaking loss, Fred has found reason to press forward. In Find the Helpers, Fred shares of finding support and comfort from those he knew and those he had not yet met, a journey that would lead him to friendships with the Vice President and with the Speaker of the House. And he shares of his enduring commitment to ending gun violence through dogged and tireless advocacy. Fred once shared with me that he wished he had started the work to end gun violence before it was too late for him and his family. His lesson is now ours. His words now our calling."
—Former Congressman David Jolly

“Few people better exemplify the power of turning tragedy into action than Fred Guttenberg. His grace, resilience, and courage in the face of unspeakable heartbreak serve as inspiration to us all. In the fight to end gun violence in America, Fred has not only been there for me, but has also found ways to engage new voices and build new bridges while honoring the memory of his daughter. This book offers powerful and heartening lessons on how we can help one another move forward and build a safer, more just world.”
—Gabby Giffords

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