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HomeNewsArchivesHELP NEEDED TO BRING N.Y. FIREFIGHTERS TO VISIT

HELP NEEDED TO BRING N.Y. FIREFIGHTERS TO VISIT

Dec. 18, 2001 — St. Croix resident Chuck Ulrich may not look like Santa Claus to most people, but to more than two dozen New York City firefighters and their families he sure does.
Ulrich is the driving force behind the effort to bring firefighters who grappled with the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center to St. Croix for a little rest and relaxation. But if Ulrich is Santa, he now needs the help of many, many elves.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, five firefighters and their families — a total of 22 people — were the guests of Ulrich, owner of Blue Water Travel, a St. Croix-based villa-brokering firm, and a host of other island businesses and residents. During their visit, the firefighters were feted at a Jump-up Street Festival in Christiansted and were treated to boat trips to Buck Island and dinners around the island.
The idea to offer some R&R to the men came to Ulrich after he watched the events of Sept. 11 and the subsequent rescue efforts unfold on television. He took it upon himself to put together a vacation package of a donated villa and other perks for a firefighter and spouse. He told Marti Gotts of Vacation St. Croix, another villa broker, about his plans, and she got several more villas donated.
Ulrich then let the Family Crisis Center of the New York City Fire Department know about the available packages. Response was immediate, and the Thanksgiving visit was a unqualified success.
But there's more — more firefighters and their families who want to accept the invitation to come to St. Croix. Ulrich said Monday he has 25 firefighters set to visit between now and next November. With their families, that comes to some 85 people.
As was the case with the first group at Thanksgiving, airfares are proving to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome, Ulrich said. "We raised the funds to bring down the first group," he said. "Now, we need to do it again. The only expense is airfare and American Airlines came through for us with a deep discounted fare of $300 per person for the firefighters and their families."
Carl Gotts, Marti’s husband and owner of Gotts Insurance, donated the airfares for the first group of families, which even at the discounted rate, were too much for a family of five to afford. The Tourism Department is covering the airfare for the 25 firefighters themselves, but there is a need for donations for family members. And that is why Santa Ulrich is looking for the help of some elves.
"We have the villas ready to accept guests," Marti Gotts, owner of Vacation St. Croix, said. "We just need to get them here."
Anyone interested in contributing toward airfare costs can send or take donations to the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, 202 Chandlers Wharf Building, Gallows Bay, St. Croix VI 00820. Checks should be payable to St. Croix Foundation, with "firemen's visit" wrottem on the memo line.
"With the first group down here, the family thing is what really made it," Ulrich said. "Because they have been so busy, you could see it was really nice for them to get together with their family members."
To see some photographs of firefighters visiting St. Croix in November and to learn more about the project, click on www.st-croix.net/firemen.html.

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Dec. 18, 2001 -- St. Croix resident Chuck Ulrich may not look like Santa Claus to most people, but to more than two dozen New York City firefighters and their families he sure does.
Ulrich is the driving force behind the effort to bring firefighters who grappled with the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center to St. Croix for a little rest and relaxation. But if Ulrich is Santa, he now needs the help of many, many elves.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, five firefighters and their families -- a total of 22 people -- were the guests of Ulrich, owner of Blue Water Travel, a St. Croix-based villa-brokering firm, and a host of other island businesses and residents. During their visit, the firefighters were feted at a Jump-up Street Festival in Christiansted and were treated to boat trips to Buck Island and dinners around the island.
The idea to offer some R&R to the men came to Ulrich after he watched the events of Sept. 11 and the subsequent rescue efforts unfold on television. He took it upon himself to put together a vacation package of a donated villa and other perks for a firefighter and spouse. He told Marti Gotts of Vacation St. Croix, another villa broker, about his plans, and she got several more villas donated.
Ulrich then let the Family Crisis Center of the New York City Fire Department know about the available packages. Response was immediate, and the Thanksgiving visit was a unqualified success.
But there's more -- more firefighters and their families who want to accept the invitation to come to St. Croix. Ulrich said Monday he has 25 firefighters set to visit between now and next November. With their families, that comes to some 85 people.
As was the case with the first group at Thanksgiving, airfares are proving to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome, Ulrich said. "We raised the funds to bring down the first group," he said. "Now, we need to do it again. The only expense is airfare and American Airlines came through for us with a deep discounted fare of $300 per person for the firefighters and their families."
Carl Gotts, Marti’s husband and owner of Gotts Insurance, donated the airfares for the first group of families, which even at the discounted rate, were too much for a family of five to afford. The Tourism Department is covering the airfare for the 25 firefighters themselves, but there is a need for donations for family members. And that is why Santa Ulrich is looking for the help of some elves.
"We have the villas ready to accept guests," Marti Gotts, owner of Vacation St. Croix, said. "We just need to get them here."
Anyone interested in contributing toward airfare costs can send or take donations to the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, 202 Chandlers Wharf Building, Gallows Bay, St. Croix VI 00820. Checks should be payable to St. Croix Foundation, with "firemen's visit" wrottem on the memo line.
"With the first group down here, the family thing is what really made it," Ulrich said. "Because they have been so busy, you could see it was really nice for them to get together with their family members."
To see some photographs of firefighters visiting St. Croix in November and to learn more about the project, click on www.st-croix.net/firemen.html.