History of the Angels
32 Years of Service
New York has seen a startling change during the past 32 years and The Guardian Angels were in the trenches, not as mere witnesses, but active modifiers of history. They heard a president tell the city to “drop dead,” felt the impact of both the economic boom and bust, experienced first hand the rampant crime …and more recently faced the palpable devastation of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Through it all there has been one constant – Curtis Sliwa and The Guardian Angels’ service to New Yorkers. After 32 years as promoters of safety and empowerment, The Guardian Angels continue to teach communities and schools to take control and responsibility of both their environment and their lives. Now their community is global as they reach citizens around the world.
The story of this organization’s genesis and nascent roots are by now familiar. The McDonald’s night manager in a crime-ridden area of the Bronx, who, sickened and saddened by his city’s deterioration, took matters into his own hands. He formed a voluntary, weapon-free patrol of 13 to take the subways, the streets and the neighborhood back from crime. The accolades that followed and success of their programs only heightened the symbolism of the red beret, now a worldwide icon for safety. Less familiar is the story of its progressive adaptation to societal needs. Curtis and his Angels inspired young people to create 140 chapters around the world and won the support of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; iconic businessmen like Carl Icahn, Paul Carlucci, Leon Temiz and Fred Drasner; sport heroes Dave Winfield and Boomer Esaison; entertainers Regis Philbin, Phil Collins and Oprah; and revered broadcaster Walter Cronkite. The Guardian Angels helped to establish community forces with groups such as the YMCA, the National Crime Prevention Council, the United Way, and the Points of Light Foundation.
Alien to many are the strides the Guardian Angels have made in the field of education in the past few years. Though neighborhood watches and clean-ups are still in effect, it is the hurdles they have bounded over to ensure safety in our classrooms that is currently paramount on their agenda. Their CyberAngels program patrols the Internet, while their school safety programs are mandated in New York and New Jersey. Thanks to the persistence of the education division of The Guardian Angels, spearheaded by COO and Executive Director Mary Sliwa, they have also developed cooperative ventures with educational institutions to train their teachers in classroom management and protocol. The Guardian Angels presence in our schools helps our teachers take back their classrooms. Mary is confident these safety education programs will be as widespread and effective as the now legendary street patrols.
The Guardian Angels are always on patrol and if New York is the city that never sleeps, then founder Curtis Sliwa is its resident insomniac. He is crucial in efforts to expand their services as society dictates. With commitment, conviction and compassion as their credo, they continue to fulfill, with funding or without, the demand for safety and self-actualization. The Guardian Angels have personified benevolence and fortitude every year since 1979 and continue to do so as they transcend geography – from the city streets into our classrooms, our boardrooms and our legislature.
The story of The Guardian Angels is a unique one. Its efforts and achievements in the past quarter century are remarkable. Though to ensure its continued success, funding is not only essential, it is the oxygen which allows these programs to breathe into each and every community and school in need. With your generosity we believe we can thrive in the next 32 years and stamp history with accomplishment.
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