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Gary Sinise Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Philanthropy, Public Foundations

Mission: At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.

Programs: Our R.I.S.E. program is dedicated to Restoring Independence & Supporting Empowerment for our wounded service members and their families as they adjust to life after injury. Atop the emotional and physical stresses are the financial burdens. Most military families lack the means to update their homes and equipment to fit their individual needs. Through R.I.S.E., we are providing adapted vehicles, mobility devices, and home modifications to injured, wounded, ill and/or aging heroes from all military conflicts. For our nation’s most severely wounded, life at home can be a constant battle. Without features designed for their needs, small tasks can present insurmountable challenges. R.I.S.E. builds mortgage-free, specially adapted smart homes all across the country. Our team provides hands-on management and real estate expertise from land purchase to construction. With a place to truly call home, these heroes and their families can move forward with their lives. From Gary’s early involvement in 2010 to the Gary Sinise Foundation’s work today, we have 61 specially adapted smart homes completed or underway.

“The best thing about this house is being able to get everywhere without the worry of injuring myself. There are no obstacles. I’m fully independent.” USMC GySgt. Guillermo Tejada (Ret.) lost both of his legs and suffered additional severe injuries while on tour in Afghanistan. He is married and has five children. The Gary Sinise Foundation was proud to provide the Tejada family a specially adapted smart home in 2016. Guillermo feels his new home has allowed him to be a better father to his children and alleviate stress from his wife that she was serving as a full-time caregiver. His favorite rooms include the kitchen, because he loves to cook for his family and the bathroom which allows him to shower on his own in a safe environment.

Lending a helping hand during difficult times can become the pivotal moment that changes a life’s direction. Relief & Resiliency keeps our defenders and their families strong by offering financial and moral support in times of trauma and loss. This program is crucial for those with struggles that are often not addressed, as their situations need to be handled urgently. It intends to function on a case-by-case basis with decisions made on funding within hours if necessary. We are able to help these individuals in need by covering necessities for them such as rent, an electric bill and school tuition payment as well as life afflicting debts as a result of tragedy. Oftentimes, many veterans with severe PTSD end up turning to alcohol or illegal substances to ease their pain. If a veteran does get in trouble with the law, the courts will offer an option to the individual to participate in an intense step-by-step program through Veterans Court. This program helps the veteran face their demons, get clean if needed, go back to school, and/or get a job. Through Relief & Resiliency we work closely with the social & case workers in charge of the program when learning about participants to help. Mr. Adams is a veteran who went through the Veterans Court program. During that time his daughter was put into foster care, and while there, she was abused. When Mr. Adams graduated from Veterans Court he worked to get his daughter out of the system and away from mistreatment. He had to pay an excessive amount of lawyer fees, but got her back and she is living in a safe environment with her father again. With the addition of the lawyer fees, his bills became overwhelming and challenging to pay. The Gary Sinise Foundation was able to help with all of his outstanding bills. He has a job that he can now maintain his finances on his own and start fresh with his daughter. Mr. Adams was overwhelmed with gratitude and shared, “The help you provided has been so meaningful to me. Now accomplishing future goals for my daughter and I seem easily in reach. Being reminded that someone out there really cares about your well-being has been the biggest gift I have ever received. I could never thank you enough.”

Relief & Resiliency also works to ensure those who have endured or currently are enduring medical issues from service related illnesses are not forgotten. This includes keeping spirits high by hosting day-long Invincible Spirit Festivals at military medical centers nationwide. By providing a respite from the rigors of their medical treatment these festivals offer a reminder of hope and positivity along the road to recovery. Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band boost morale on military bases at home and abroad, raise awareness at benefit concerts across the country, and headline our own Invincible Spirit Festivals. A recently established mentorship program through Relief & Resiliency introduces post-9/11 injured heroes to wounded veterans from the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Over the course of a seven-day retreat, heroes at the beginning of their rehabilitation are paired with veterans who have successfully overcome similar struggles.

Community Outreach & Education recognizes the importance of all heroes, past and present, to our everyday lives. Our Soaring Valor program is sending WWII veterans to New Orleans for a tour of the museum built in their honor while recording their oral histories for future generations. In 2017, the Gary Sinise Foundation expanded Soaring Valor by inviting students to join the trip. This educational experience allows our younger generations to learn personally from these heroes. One student, Amanda, shared her experience, “I wanted to thank you guys again a million times for giving me the privilege to attend Soaring Valor! It was unforgettable and absolutely inspiring and empowering. I just got off the phone with Mr. Harary (WWII veteran! I miss him deeply and I have learned so much from being connected with him. He and his family have become a very special part of my life. His story and the story of all World War II veterans and military veterans alike are part of the reason why I aspire to be the person I am today. Thank you again for letting me fulfill a lifelong dream. This trip exceeded every single one of my expectations and I really truly cannot thank you enough.”

Arts & Entertainment Outreach welcomes local veterans to the Steppenwolf Theatre for dinner and a free rehearsal performance. And Serving Heroes is showing America’s gratitude with hearty meals served at military venues nationwide. Each member of our Ambassadors Council is individually selected by our founder for their exceptional character and patriotism. As spokespersons, they proudly share our accomplishments and aspirations as well as their own stories of service.

The Gary Sinise Foundation recognizes and supports America’s firefighters, police, and EMTs through its First Responders Outreach. Through grants for essential equipment and training, we are ensuring these heroes perform to the best of their ability. The Chagrin Falls Fire Department had been trying to purchase an off-road rescue unit for over two years. They needed this unit because a woman had broken her leg while skiing in a large park, the firefighters could not get to her. The Gary Sinise Foundation was able to provide this fire department a grant to purchase their unit. Fire Chief Jack Philips said. “If it weren’t for the Gary Sinise Foundation, little fire departments that have a need and can’t purchase equipment without help wouldn’t have what they need and these emergencies would come in and they wouldn’t be able to provide service like they should.”

Community Stories

12 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer and donor, I am truly fortunate to be a part of this stellar organization since 2011. In that time, I have witnessed the tremendous growth of the Gary Sinise Foundation. An organization always striving to serve as many as possible, of our nation’s finest in need, with one of the lowest administrative costs of any nonprofit while offering an exceptionally high level of programs, and aid.

An organization created by Gary Sinise with his remarkable team led by Executive Director, Judy Otter who never tire of assisting, honoring, and serving those who have sacrificed for our country, and our freedoms. The belief that there is always more “we” can do is widely held from Mr. Sinise down through the organization.

To be a member of this remarkable team so devoted to honoring our nation’s military, veterans, first responders, and their families who have sacrificed for all of us has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am beyond grateful for the team Mr. Sinise and Ms. Otter have created, the friendships developed with individuals also devoted to this mission, and the opportunity to not only honor my own family’s service, but that of countless others who go into harm’s way with no expectation other than to selflessly serve for the greater good.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband was assisted by this remarkable foundation. The love and care that these people have for our veterans is unbelievable. We truly feel apart of the famly and it is a great feeling to know that such a strong backbone is there to support us.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Gary Sinise and everyone at the foundation has been wonderful to work with. These folks see people who are in need, and don't stop until they know they've made an impactful mark on their lives. I'm so grateful for this foundation. USA!!!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

This November will mark six years that I have had the pleasure of working with the Gary Sinise Foundation. Having partnered with GSF personally and professionally, I can truly say I have seen for myself the generosity of the GSF team and the 100% dedication they give to every mission. The transparency in the day to day activities through the end of the year report gives me the confidence to not only continue in our support, but to be an advocate for others to donate to this exceptional organization. Many of the things done behind the scenes are proof of the driving force behind this foundation....and that is to enhance the lives of every Veteran and First Responder that they can help. This is not just for the unfortunate individuals that lose limbs or have Traumatic Brain Injuries, but for all those that have stood (regardless of how long ago) for the freedom of this country. Mr. Sinise and his team will continue to do everything possible to remember them, insure younger generations remember them and their sacrifices. Most importantly, the Gary Sinise Foundation reminds us that it is all of our responsibilities to assist & support where we can the heroes of this great nation.

4 Kelsey M.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Gary Sinise Foundation stepped in to fill a void in our lives that we had. My husband lost his arms and legs by an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan back in 2012. We didn't have a handicap accessible home at the time and GSF gifted us with a fully equipped/accessible smart home! Now my husband can do daily tasks that he thought would be impossible, possible.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Dear Gary Sinise Foundation,
I want to thank you for all the support you give to Veterans. I am a Veteran and am lucky enough to work with Veterans. I have reached out to your foundation and on several occasions you have provided assistance financially but more importantly words of encouragement to our Veterans. It makes a world of difference that they know there are people that care about them and acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices they have made. The foundation has the most incredible team of people who sincerely care about each Veteran, their needs, their goals, and their well being. Our Veterans feel recognized and heard and they have expressed their gratitude to Gary Sinise and his team, stating they have "got our six". Thank you all for all you do.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have personally met many that are involved with the Gary Sinise Foundation. We met Mr. Sinise through a mutual friend in 2010. We have been actively involved in the Foundation since then.

In 2014 the R.I.S.E. program provided a home for my son that was adapted to his needs. Giving him a more independent life. They included a living space for me as his caregiver thaallows us to be close but not too close.

He was injured in Iraq Feb. 26th, 2007 by an IED. He recieved 85% burns, loss of both his hands, technically blind and has had over 90 surgeries.

There is life after injury with support and friendship.

We continue to support the Gary Sinise Foundation and their many programs.

Review from Guidestar

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have witnessed firsthand the great work/services the Gary Sinise Foundation provides to so many of our nation's first responder's and veterans. I have attended several RISE smart home dedications that the foundations has provided and met the families who are so grateful for GSF. I have volunteered for the Invisible Spirit festival in San Diego at the naval medical hospital where the GSF team brings love, hope, encouragement, and smiles to hundreds of families who are dealing with severely wounded veterans challenges. I have attended the GSF team along with WWII veterans to the National WWII museum in New Orleans, LA and seen the tears of joy as the veterans experience a tru hero's welcome with smiles, cheers from little children up to many seniors who want them to feel loved and appreciated. Gary Sinise has committed a huge portion of his life to meet the growing needs of first responders/veterans and his team works tirelessly to help in so many effective ways to pay if forward. This foundation stands among all nonprofits and I want to see more people join them in helping to make a difference with our veterans/first responders. Truly amazing group people!! Gib Bosworth

2

Donor

Rating: 5


On Monday, June 19th, 2017 I had the privilege of attending the Gary Sinise Foundation "Walls of Honor" program in San Diego, California. This recognizes the heroic contributions of our severely wounded service men and women through the RISE Program--Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment. I was so fortunate to be able to write a personal note of thanks to US Navy EOD1 Andrew Bottrell and his family on the interior wall of his Smart Home under construction. The ceremony was so impressive meeting Andrew, his wife Lindsey, and their baby daughter Jessa! This was an experience I will never forget!
I want to thank the Gary Sineses Foundation for making a dream come true.
Thank you,
Christine McGovern

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have been working with the Gary Sinise Foundation for the past two years and have met many of the severely injured veterans that have been built Smarthomes through this Foundation. I've listened to the stories of how dramatically these veteran's lives have been changed through these homes by restoring independence, dignity and purpose and the peace of mind in knowing they have a "forever" home to share with their loved ones. And this is only one program of the many available through the Gary Sinise Foundation that help to assist, motivate and thank our military and first responder's...

124 Nancy149

Donor

Rating: 5

While researching charities that lend a helping hand to our military with the intention of donating, my brother suggested The Gary Sinise Foundation, stating that it is an excellent nonprofit organization. I read everything I could on the website and was impressed. I also wanted to see the breakdown of donated money: how much goes toward programs, administrative, etc, but was unable to find out this information so I contacted the foundation. I received the following explanation in an email: "...I would also like to share that Gary, select members on our Advisory Board and select donors have graciously designated their gifts to fund our operation costs, which allows us to use 100% of our mailed in and online donations towards supporting our mission." Now that's what I call GIVING to our military!

94

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Gary Sinise is one of the most genuinely involved and purposeful Patriots to lend his talent and 'celebrity' to actively support US military. Gary has demonstrated via his foundation and the Lt. Dan Band that he (and a select few others within the Entertainment industry) met the old standard of using personal wealth and resources to meet the needs of America’s warriors.

The Gary Sinise Foundation is an organization I highly recommend via online formats and during face-to-face presentations to donors, friends, family and colleagues, because of their commitment to American military.