may 2, 2013

Jack Fanous, Creator of Innovative Model for Veterans’ Services, Receives Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference

Fanous accepts award on behalf of the veterans he serves and vows to pledge all of his award earnings towards his organization to help returning veterans and those affected by Hurricane Sandy

MAHWAH, NJ - Jack Fanous, the Founder and Executive Director of The GI Go Fund, whose organization has changed the lives of thousands of veterans, was a recipient of the “Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference” at the 17th Annual Award Ceremony held by the Russell Berrie Foundation at Ramapo College.

Mr. Fanous accepted the award, along with a generous gift of $25,000 from the Russell Berrie Foundation, which he has pledged to give to his organization to continue the mission of helping veterans returning back home to New Jersey and throughout the country, as well as the thousands of veterans whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Fanous, a Marlton resident and native of Burlington County, founded the organization in 2006 in honor of his childhood friend, Lt. Seth Dvorin, who was killed in Iraq. His organization has led the way for veterans, assisting thousands of Jersey vets with finding work, going to college, getting healthcare, and finding housing.

Fanous’ organization has created an incredible partnership with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, where they have provided veterans with cutting edge services that have led to terrific advances, including this past fall when the Newark Fire Department inducted an all veteran class of recruits. Among his most recent work was providing veterans who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy with thousands of dollars in supermarket gift cards, as well as thousands of new clothes, blankets, and emergency supplies to families in immediate need, and hundreds of toys for their children during the holidays.

The efforts of Mr. Fanous with the GI Go Fund have received national recognition, as his work was highlighted on the ABC reality show “Secret Millionaire”, as well as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and the Fox Business Channel. Mr. Fanous has also testified before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs regarding his solutions to veterans’ issues.

“I do not accept this award for myself, but rather for the millions of veterans who have sacrificed their lives and their futures for our security,” said Fanous. “Veterans have once again led the way by revolutionizing the way municipal governments distribute services to their citizens. What we have been able to do as a nonprofit in partnership with Mayor Booker is utilize city resources to improve the lives of veterans. In doing so, we have proven that if a city government empowers nonprofits to service other communities such as seniors, people with disabilities, children, and even disaster victims, we can have a more cost-effective, agile, targeted approach that not only serves the specific population, but does so in a way that costs the taxpayers no money. And now, by allowing us to service them back home, our veterans have paved the way to the next century of providing services by creating a smarter government.”

The Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference celebrates New Jersey’s unsung heroes—everyday people whose extraordinary volunteer efforts have made a real difference in the lives of others. Created in 1997, the annual award program honors eleven individuals who have performed outstanding community service or an act of heroism. A selection committee comprised of New Jersey business leaders and professionals chooses the unsung heroes from a pool of several hundred nominees and awards the top finalist a cash award of $50,000, while three finalists each receive an award of $25,000 and up to eight runner-up finalist awards are given $5,000 each.