With an eleventh hour cash transfusion, the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps. has made it off life support – and intends to stay that way.
A $50,000 no-strings grant from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will keep its ambulances rolling through most of 2014.
At the same time, the 34-year-old group now has the free services of a professional fundraiser to cobble together funds for next year.
“They’re going to teach us how to write grants, how to appeal for money,” said Bill Heaney, TNVAC chair, who’s been with the group since the beginning. “Everything from this point on is about moving forward.”
Corps. members met August 7 to hash out a fundraising strategy that keeps them ahead of the game and not squeezed at zero hour.
Like any volunteer group, finding funds has been the toughest challenge for TNVAC, opened since 1979 at a time when volunteer ambulance groups were abundant in the east Bronx.
TNVAC has outlasted RiverBay Ambulance Corps. in Co-op City and the City Island Volunteer Ambulance Corps. as monies for those groups dried up.
The corps. prides itself in having started medical careers, giving enough experience to hundreds of emergency medical technicians who’ve moved on to become full-fledged EMT’s.
With a current foster of five dozen volunteer EMTs, Heaney sees the corps. as a vital training ground for folks who intend to start a medical career.
“Some of them go on to be doctors or other things,” said Heaney, adding the corps. responds to 300 calls a year, ranging from life-treatening injures to simple cuts and bruises.
A bad economy made it rough for TNVAC to scrounge up enough cash to cover it’s yearly overhead, which includes skyhigh insurance, fuel for its vehicles and equipment costs.
State funding has also dwindled in the last few years, after Gov. Cuomo tightened the belt on member items, vetoing projects that ran into the millions.
WIth a bad economy and little public funds, TNVAC realized it could close as early as Labor Day.
But longtime member David Hochhauser, on the board of directors, spent weeks working the phones to get lawmakers to chip in funds.
While local pols pitched in as much as they could, with Councilman Jimmy Vacca earmarking his regular $8,000 this year, the large chunk of money came from Council Speaker Quinn, a mayoral candidate who used discretionary funds to cover TNVAC.
After getting the documents, Hochhauser rushed to the E. Tremont Ave. depot to give his fellow EMTs the news.
“I said ‘now the ball’s in your court,’” said Hochhauser, thrilled to see a happy ending for his plight.
He was quick to point out the donation came with no strings attached, dismissing pundits suggestion her donation was purely political pandering.
“We are not endorsing Christine Quinn,” emphasized Hochhauser.
For her part, Quinn simply saw the gesture as part of the job.
“…We are glad to be able to step in and help this vital group continue to protect the residents of the northeast Bronx,” she said.
Hochhauser was just as thrilled to see TNVAC get past its financial trouble and focus on the job.
Of the financial rescue from the electeds, he said “They saved our lives.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383