Fred Guttenberg loved watching Mr. Rogers with his daughter and his son when they were little. Their favorite piece of wisdom was: In the midst of tragedy and catastrophe, find the helpers.
“Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers. Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know there’s hope.” —Fred Rogers, interview with Television Academy, 1999
Life changed forever on Valentine's Day 2018. What was to be a family day celebrating love turned into a nightmare. Thirty-four people were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Jaime Guttenberg, a fourteen-year-old with a huge heart, was the second to last victim. That she and so many of her fellow students were struck down in cold blood galvanized many to action, including Jaime’s father Fred who has become an activist dedicated to passing common sense gun safety legislation.
Fred was already struggling with deep personal loss. Four months earlier his brother Michael died of 9/11 induced pancreatic cancer. He had been exposed to so much dust and chemicals at Ground Zero, the damage caught up with him. Michael battled heroically for nearly five years and then died at age fifty.
This book is not about gun safety or Parkland. Instead, Find the Helpers tells the story of Fred Guttenberg’s journey since Jaime’s death and how he has been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the kindness and compassion of others. Good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people─and the world is filled with them. They include everyone from amazing gun violence survivors Fred has met around the country to former VP Joe Biden, who spent time talking to him about finding mission and purpose in learning to grieve.
If you have read books such as Eyes to the Wind, Haben, The Beauty in Breaking, The Book of Rosy, or We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders; then you'll love Find the Helpers.
“Few people better exemplify the power of turning tragedy into action than Fred Guttenberg. His grace, resilience, and courage in the face of unspeakable heartbreak serve as inspiration to us all. In the fight to end gun violence in America, Fred has not only been there for me, but has also found ways to engage new voices and build new bridges while honoring the memory of his daughter. This book offers powerful and heartening lessons on how we can help one another move forward and build a safer, more just world.” ―Gabby Giffords, former U.S. Representative (AZ) and gun control advocate
"Hopefully, this book will move you, upset you, enrage you, and, ultimately, inspire you to be the best ‘Helper’ you can be. Because life is so much better for those who are helped AND for those who do the helping. Fred suffered the ultimate loss and chose to turn it into the ultimate mission: to protect our children from gun violence. As a career homicide prosecutor, I had the unimaginable privilege of working with hundreds of ‘homicide families.’ No family should ever have to bear that horrific label. Yet once a family suffers the loss of a loved one to violent crime, some feel that the label ‘homicide family’ will forever define them. Fred is living proof that we need not be defined by our darkest day. In his painful yet ultimately uplifting memoir, Fred Guttenberg is a living tribute to the triumph of purpose over tragedy. And he has helped us all." —Glenn Kirschner, Legal Analyst and Former US Army prosecutor
Fred Guttenberg made several appearances at the virtual Democratic National Convention, including representing Florida in the delegate roll call. He will continue to promote the book in national media outlets, and virtual author events, including the Miami Book Fair, November 15-22, 2020.