By: Sharon Aron Baron
Members of the Guardian Angels who have voluntarily stationed themselves at Marjory Stoneman Douglas after the school shooting will be honored in a special event created by two local residents.
Several months ago, many parents had never heard of Cobra, Black Cat and Yankee, however, after seeing their daily presence at the school, many have found the added layer of security comforting.
Beverly Barna, who drives her daughter to school each day says their presence has been a big help. “I’d say that in these emotional, trying days since 2/14, every sign of support and help is most welcome and deeply appreciated.”
The event honoring them was created by Parkland Isles neighbors Jon Faber and Stephen Feuerman who both have children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. They wanted to not only honor the Guardian Angels, who put their lives on hold to watch the school, but to help raise money to compensate them for their loss of income during this time.
Before February 14, Faber wasn’t even aware there were Guardian Angels in South Florida until he was walking his kids back to school the first day after the school shooting. He noticed these “crazy-looking guys with red berets” and walked over to them and asked, “You guys are Guardian Angels from New York? I’m from New York.” They began talking and he got to know them and found out how much they wanted to take care of the kids in the community and help. All with no other agenda.
Feuerman said he also felt a sense of comfort with them. “I’m from New York, and in the 70’s, I remember Curtis Sliwa fighting crime in the city. But they’re so far from that.”
Faber realized the Guardian Angels needed a centralized station in front of the school, which was on city property. He approached Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky who put him in touch with the parks department to help expedite the necessary permits. He then went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought them a tent to protect them from the rain while other people donated chairs and a table. Meanwhile, Feureman, made sure they had a meal train set up: an online list of volunteers who help provide breakfast and lunch and bring it over to them.
“We got to know them over the months. I work a full-time job in an office, and Stephen works out of his home, and he spends an hour or more everyday with them,” said Faber.
Faber, who also heads up a Facebook group called “Parkland Parents: A Group to Heal” said, “These guys just really love the kids and they would take a bullet for any one of them. They have eyes behind their heads and don’t sit in air-conditioned vehicles looking at computers. They know the terrain. They know by now who is normal on the campus and who’s not normal.”
Faber said the Guardian Angels get to Marjory Stoneman Douglas each day between 5:30 – 6 a.m., and stay until the kids get picked up in the afternoon. They also work at local charity events on the weekend.
Faber and Feuerman hope they raise enough money to help take care of them financially. “Cobra was actually a full-time security guard and took off four months,” said Faber.
Their ultimate goal is to raise enough money so they are able to go to New York to meet Curtis Sliwa, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels. Cobra has met him, the others have not.
Feuerman said Cobra is the kind of guy that takes care of people. He along with the other Guardian Angels helped work security at Andrew Pollack’s events, the Parkland March Of Our Lives, and From Broadway With Love concert at the BB&T Center.
During the event on Thursday, May 31, they will first honor the Guardian Angels, and during the second part, they will be addressing PTSD with speaker. Dr. Scott Poland, a nationally recognized expert on school crisis, youth violence, suicide intervention, self-injury, school safety, threat assessment, parenting and the delivery of psychological services in schools. Other special speakers will include Rabbi Mendy Gutnick and Fred Guttenberg.
Guests are asked to bring cash or check donations. Or if you cannot make it a GoFundme has been set up for them. The event will be held at the Parkland Amphitheater at Pine Trails Park from 4:00 p.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday, May 31. In case of rain, it will be moved inside.