Family Resources

2022-2023 NFFF Scholarships

Grief in Progress: A New Podcast Series from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Everyone’s journey through grief is unique. But shared stories can be a powerful tool of hope for those who have experienced sudden loss. Grief in Progress inspires listeners with messages of resilience from peers who have found their own ways to cope. The compelling episodes feature one-on-one conversations with spouses, children, and life partners of fallen firefighters—but the perspectives they share will resonate with anyone dealing with grief. Through the generosity of these Fire Hero Families, the open dialogue focuses on contemporary issues of grief and offers strategies to promote healing. Most of all, Grief in Progress inspires new ways of seeing the world and connecting with others after tragic loss.

Episode 2

Finding Meaning via “Found Families”

Grief in Progress​
Ryan Woitalewicz was just four years old when he lost his dad Kenny, a volunteer firefighter in Nebraska. When Ryan attended his first NFFF Kids Camp for children ages 7-17, Illinois Fire Chief Chad Hoefle was assigned as his Big Buddy—a mentorship match that has stood the test of time. Over the years, Ryan and Chad returned to camp together until Ryan reached age 18. And the “found family” they created continues, as the two celebrate milestone events such as Ryan completing his education and becoming a teacher. They remain close and enjoy any opportunity to talk about Ryan’s father and finding meaning in his loss.


» Read More: NFFF Launches Grief Podcast to Foster Hope and Healing

NFFF Connect

Watch the 2021 Fire Hero Family Tree Lighting

Each year, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation decorates trees in memory your firefighters. These beautiful trees are on display in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel, featuring ornaments from the you, our families, and departments of America’s Fire Heroes from around the country.

Fire Hero Family Trees

Ornaments on Our Fire Hero Family Trees

You sent ornaments in honor of their loved ones. Each year, these precious memories are displayed in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel. These ornaments are hung with care to let you know that you are not alone, and that we too, remember your beloved firefighter this holiday season.

View Photos from the 2021 Fire Hero Family Winter Retreat

» Home Fire and Life Safety Tips During the COVID-19 Crisis «

Focusing Our Energy

Erin Browning

Erin Browning

Outreach Assistant
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day
is the rest we take between two deep breaths.

Etty Hillesum

Jenny Woodall

Jenny Woodall

Grief Specialist
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking
new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Beverly Donlon

Beverly Donlon

Director of Family Programs
Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice; the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

Eric Nagle

Eric Nagle

Family Programs Specialist
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…
it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Vivian Greene

Ashley Whitmore

Ashley Whitmore

Family Programs Support Specialist
If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Forever in Our Hearts®
Resources for Families of Fallen Firefighters

Families of fallen firefighters face a long and difficult journey. While the rest of the world moves on, family members must figure out how to live without their loved one. The Foundation offers a variety of programs and materials to help during this most difficult time.

Most importantly, we want you to know that you are not alone. There are others who understand your loss and honor your loved one’s memory.

Fire Hero Family Programs

  • NFFF and Partner Scholarship Programs
    The Foundation offers financial assistance for post-secondary education and training to spouses, life partners, children and stepchildren of firefighters honored at the National Memorial.
  • Wellness Conference
    This special week of activities is designed to address issues related to loss, provide training for those providing outreach to others, and provide a chance to network with other fire hero families.
  • Remembrance Program
    During the anniversary month of their firefighter’s death, families receive a Remembrance card from another fire hero family member.
  • Hal Bruno Camps for Children of Fallen Firefighters
    This is a weekend bereavement camp for children and stepchildren of fallen firefighters who have been honored at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg.
  • Programs for Young Adults
    The Foundation offers programs for young adults, ages 18-24, whose firefighter parent died in the line of duty.
  • Memorial Weekend
    Every October, the Foundation sponsors the official national tribute to all firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year. The weekend features private activities for fire hero families and co-workers, along with public ceremonies.
  • Winter Family Retreat
    A multi-day event for all ages and family members, focused on fellowship, self-care, and giving back during the holidays.
  • National Fallen Firefighters Holiday Tree Lighting
    Each December, ornaments, holiday cards, and notes provided by Fire Hero Families adorn trees in and around the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel. These tributes in honor of fallen firefighters remain on display throughout the holiday season.

Family Benefit Information

To help with immediate and long-term financial concerns, we can help families find information on benefits available at the national level and in each state. The Foundation’s Scholarship Program can help fire hero families achieve their educational goals.

Fire Hero Family Resources and Information

Memorial Weekend Information

Family Resources

Fire Hero Family Network

Fire Hero Families can provide unique support to one another. Simply connecting with someone who has lost a firefighter can offer a sense of hope.

Survivor Benefits

Family Benefits

The NFFF has conducted extensive researchto identify the range of benefits available to survivors of firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Outward Bound 2018

Programs for Young Adults

For a child, losing a parent changes life forever, even into adulthood. The Foundation offers programs for young adults to focus on grief and on building life skills.


The NFFF offers assistance for post-secondary education/training to spouses, partners, children and stepchildren of firefighters.