BW Gives Back: The Borough of Ramsey 9/11 Remembrance

September 13, 2011

by Alan Asarch, Manager, Licensing and Content Development, Business Wire

Located in Bergen County New Jersey, The Ramsey Wind Symphony is one of the region’s most established wind groups.  Celebrating its 26th Season, the Symphony consists of volunteer participants from all walks of life who love to play and perform music.  Every year, the Symphony holds several concerts for the community, and is invited to participate in seasonal community events.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the Borough of Ramsey conducts memorial services for the three local residents whose lives were lost on that tragic day.  The Ramsey Wind Symphony provides patriotic and solemn musical interludes as part of the 9/11 Memorial Services, as community leaders speak and those we lost on that tragic day are remembered.

Borough of Ramsey 9/11 Remembrance

Local police and firefighters attend the Borough of Ramsey 9/11 memorial service

On the 10th anniversary of September 11, Ramsey held its memorial ceremony in a remote, peaceful, tree-lined area of Finch Park, which will soon include a beautiful, permanent memorial in remembrance of the 3 residents.  The families who lost loved ones were invited back to participate in the groundbreaking of the memorial.  Only two of the three came.

Also in attendance were the mayor and councilman of Ramsey, and many members of the Police and Fire Departments of Ramsey. In front of one of the firefighters stood a bell, which would ring three times, once for each person the town lost on that fateful day.

Prior to the groundbreaking, the Symphony played patriotic interludes in a somber, rather than celebratory, tone.  The families were invited to light candles in remembrance of their loved ones.

For the first time, I saw with my own eyes families of the victims of that fateful day:  A mother and father who lost a son, and a wife and her children who lost a husband and father.  We all watch the 9/11 ceremonies on television and hear the roll call of names of loved ones who were lost.  Seeing it on television does not have the same impact as observing it in person.  I looked into their eyes as they sat in the front row, stood for the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, and walked to light their candles.  In their eyes, I see straight through to the holes in their hearts that will never be filled and the pain that will never completely heal.  My eyes fill with tears desperately wanting to be shed.

As the ceremony reached its conclusion, the Mayor thanked the Symphony for participating in the service.  The applause was warm, yet unnecessary.  More surprisingly, the families honored on this late Summer day stood for us as they applauded.  It should be the other way around–the Symphony stands for those families,  applauds them, and honors them for their strength and courage.

Memorials for Ramsey, NJ 9/11 victims

Memorials for the three Ramsey residents who lost their lives on 9/11

I walked to the banner that displays the design of the new memorial.  I wanted to speak to the families and look closer into their eyes, offer a simple, thoughtful handshake, and let them know that I share their sadness, even though I was fortunate enough to not lose a loved one on September 11, 2001.  I saw them stare at the model of the memorial, envisioning the names of their loved ones on it, which will be permanently displayed for everyone to see and never forget.  And they deserved to spend this time alone in thought.

Even though I did not speak with the families, I know that the Ramsey Wind Symphony’s participation in the ceremony gave them solace from unimaginable sorrow.  I am honored and grateful to be a part of an organization that gives back so much to its community.

In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire is giving back by providing each of its 500+ employees up to 12 hours of paid time off in 2011 to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice. Read more about what BW employees are doing to give back.

BW Gives Back: LA’s Melinda and Jill Rosenzwieg Serve as Butterfly Docents

August 11, 2011

by Melinda Rosenzweig, Marketing Supervisor, Business Wire

My six-year-old daughter, Jill, loves butterflies. In fact, she’s a ‘butterfly expert.’   She knows male from female, how many legs a butterfly has, and what happens when a butterfly undergoes change before becoming an adult.

For the past few months, Jill and I have been learning about the world of butterflies by serving as Butterfly House Docents at the Environmental Nature Center, home to the only native butterfly house in OrangeCounty.  The ‘OC’ is located just 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The ENC provides quality education through hands-on experience with nature.


VIDEO: Jill Rosenzweig, age 6, plays with a Red Admiral butterfly at the Environmental Nature Center, home to several butterfly species native to Orange County, CA.

As part of the volunteer program, Jill and I planted 45 host and nectar plants for the native OC butterflies that live within the Butterfly House. The plants have matured, and their leaves provide caterpillars with host food while their flowers offer nectar to mature butterflies. Inside the House is a “nursery” where guests can witness the birth of butterflies as they emerge from their chrysalises.

One of the ways Business Wire is celebrating its 50th anniversary is by giving employees paid time off this year to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice.   Read more about what other BW employees are doing to give back.

Happy 50th Anniversary Business Wire!

Business Wire Gives Back: San Francisco Tech Staffers Volunteer at Alameda County Food Bank

July 29, 2011

by Ann Bennett-Beals, Senior Software Engineer

As part of the Business Wire 50th Anniversary Give Back program, a group of Business Wire software developers and testers from the San Francisco office ventured out to Oakland, California for a memorable volunteer effort at the Alameda County Food Bank on the last Friday in June.

BW SF tech staffers (L-R): Sreelatha Chandra, Gilbert Vahanian, Ann Bennett-Beals & Judith Zeichner

We were all revved up to sort and package fresh produce for thousands of low income and hungry residents at the new volunteer center.  It was a huge warehouse filled with thousands of pounds of food that needed to be prepared for delivery to more than 275 food pantries, churches and agencies around the bay area.  The food bank distributes enough food for 300,000 meals each week and serves one in six residents of which 43% are children and teens (source:

The crew went to work bagging more than 2,500 pounds of carrots during the morning shift and 1,500 pounds of onions during the afternoon shift.  By the end of the day we had our fill of physical work but we enjoyed giving back to the community thanks to Business Wire’s generous gift of sharing. 

Volunteers for this wonderful event were Sr. Software Engineers Ann Bennett-Beals & Gilbert Vahanian,  Quality Assurance Manager Judith Zeichner, News System Developers Anastassia Sytnik & Sreelatha Chandra,  HQ Developers Almon Tang & Mariam Rajabi and Web Support Specialist Sahn Vong. Thanks, team!

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In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire is giving back by providing each of its 500+ employees up to 12 hours of paid time off in 2011 to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice. Read more about what BW employees are doing to give back.

Find out more about the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

Business Wire Gives Back: Teaching Piano to Share Love for the Arts

June 23, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

Marketing Specialist Amy Yen teaches piano to Lourdes Mack for CoachArt

For the past 18 months, I’ve been volunteering with CoachArt, a Los Angeles based organization that improves the quality of life for children and adolescents with chronic and life-threatening illnesses by providing free, personal lessons in the arts and athletics. CoachArt students are matched with a volunteer coach and receive private lessons one hour a week for ten weeks at a time. Lessons can include art, cooking, dance, music and athletics, depending on the student’s interests.

I’ve taught computer graphics and art in the past, but for our 50th Anniversary BW Gives Back program, I’m teaching piano to eight-year-old Lourdes Mack from Culver City. It’s been a challenge since I haven’t played piano in years. In fact, my parents sold our piano when I left for college. CoachArt is loaning Lourdes a keyboard for the duration of the sessions, and I’ve been using a piano app on my iPad to prep for our lessons.

So far, we’ve been learning a mixture of classics like “Ode to Joy” and Disney favorites like “Someday My Prince Will Come.” It’s been a joy teaching Lourdes, whose positive attitude is an inspiration. I was lucky to have seven years of piano lessons growing up and am happy to share a little of what I learned, especially with a student as deserving and eager as Lourdes.

In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire is giving back by providing each of its 500+ employees up to 12 hours of paid time off in 2011 to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice. Read more about what BW employees are doing to give back.

Read more about CoachArt and check out Lourdes’s blog.

Business Wire Gives Back: In Tokyo, BW Manager Keeps Snacks Stocked for Earthquake Victims

June 7, 2011

Akio Kobayashi, Business Wire’s Country Manager in Japan, spent a recent day helping those afflicted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami by keeping supply shelves stocked at a Tokyo relief center.  The effort was part of  our 50th birthday BW Gives Back campaign.

Akio Kobayashi, Business Wire Japan Country Manager

Akio Kobayashi, Business Wire Japan Country Manager, Volunteers in Tokyo

Kobayashi  worked the snack counter at a Tokyo high school that is serving as a temporary relief center.  Several families were crowded into a single classroom where government agencies made food, diapers and information available about jobs and living quarters.

“Old people, young couples with babies….They lost everything–jobs, homes.  Some lost their families,” Kobayashi shared via email. “I didn’t want to believe the situation but very unfortunately it was a fact that we are facing.”

The BW Gives Back campaign, which challenges each Business Wire employee to volunteer up to 12 hours to the worthy cause of their choosing, continues through the end of 2011.

Business Wire Gives Back: BW Staff Goes Back to School to Help Students Find Success

March 24, 2011

Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary celebration this year features the BW Gives Back volunteer program, which affords employees the opportunity to “go to work” in their communities for the educational or charitable organizations that mean the most to them.

Laura Sturaitis addresses the Job Search Boot Camp at St. Thomas University, Miami, FL

Executive Vice President Laura Sturaitis spent last Thursday sharing her time and expertise with job seekers among the students, alumnae and members of the general public at her alma mater St. Thomas University in Miami, FL.  Sturaitis served as a panelist at St. Thomas’s Job Search Boot Camp.  Her presentation, “Developing and Managing Your Professional Online Brand,” sparked a lively discussion.

Business Wire Executive Vice President Laura Sturaitis

Many Business Wire staff, including Laura, regularly speak to college PR and Communications students as guest lecturers on a variety of industry topics from Writing for the Web to What is the Wire?  These talks help students prepare for and excel in our quickly changing industry.

“I try to impart the fact that it’s necessary to apply their wizardry using new technologies and social media to the old-school communication skills they are learning in class – good writing and grammar, identifying and building audiences through meaningful professional relationships and networking, determining the right channels for their well-crafted message and the ability to evaluate the results of their efforts in order to make adjustments,” says Sturaitis. “We always have a lot to talk about and share in class.”

Raschanda Hall, Business Wire’s Chicago-based Global Media Relations Manager, is another staff member who regularly takes her experience and skills back to school. She recently spent the afternoon with a class of Chicago State students.

Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager

Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager

“I love the opportunity to talk to college students studying my craft, ” says Hall.  “Getting just a glimpse of what life is like in the working world of public relations is something these kids can’t get from books….When I’m asked to talk to a local college class about PR, I jump at the chance. I end up getting as much out of it as the students because I’m inspired by the next generation.”

With a company wide goal of 5,000 hours of community service in honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire supports employees’ efforts to volunteer by providing up to 10 hours of paid time off in 2011.


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