Our Mission


The Erik Foundation will aid economically disadvantaged veteran and civilian families by breaking the cycle of hardship through which these families struggle to support themselves and their children. We will break this cycle by providing basic needs such as transportation, housing, education, life skills training, job placement assistance and medical care with an emphasis on PTSD. We will first offer these services in southeastern Pennsylvania with the intent of expanding statewide and nationally.

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Meet our board of directors

Behind every great organization there are great people.  It is through trust and teamwork that we achieve far beyond what is individually possible.

Our Vision


Empowering One Family at a Time

Great achievement is only possible through positive self-image

Education and support can provide the confidence that will break the cycle

A cycle of poverty and helplessness can easily turn into homelessness

It is through trust and teamwork that we achieve far beyond what is individually possible

Healthy family relationships = positive self-image and high confidence

Too many of our veterans suffer from physical and mental injuries that affect their ability to successfully reintegrate into society

Accessible transportation is a key element in providing education and support for disadvantaged veterans and civilians

Some Alarming Statistics


15.8 million American children lived in food insecure households in 2012 (1)

In 2013, 14.7 million American children (approx. 20%) lived in poverty (2)

The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that from 2009 to 2014, 37% of the homeless population was comprised of families (3)

In 2004, 24 million US jobs (one-fifth of all jobs) did not keep a family of four out of poverty (4)

About 9% of homeless people are veterans (3)

(1) Gundersen, C., E. Englehard, A. Satoh, & E. Waxman. Map the Meal Gap 2014: Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level. Feeding America 2014
(2) DeNavas-Walt, C. & B.D. Proctor. Income and Poverty in the United States:2013. U. S. Census Bureau 2014
(3) "Snapshot of Homelessness." National Alliance to End Homelessness: Web. Accessed 19 July 2015. www.endhomelessness.org/pages/snapshot_of_homelessness
(4) Waldrom, T et al. Working Hard, Falling Short: America’s Working Families and the Pursuit of Economic Security. Annie E. Casey Foundation 2004

About Deborah E. Brussolo

After finishing high school, Deborah attended DeVry in Woodbridge, NJ. She worked in electronic quality assurance for a year before working in the medical imaging technical support and repair field for several years. Deborah became bedridden with a then-unknown condition, and spent over a decade being misdiagnosed and subjected to fruitless therapies. Finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Deborah researched and chose therapies that allowed her to become much more productive. Deborah emerged from her long illness with a new creativity and has used this talent to create the Erik stories and product.

It was during the summer of 1994 that Deborah first conceived of the "Fishing Away" project as she watched people fishing on the shore of Ocean City, NJ. Deborah worked on the game concept for 4 years, changing the look and focus several times. Eventually, she decided on the current look and format and in 1998, her company, DAB-A-DEW, printed 1000 copies of "Fishing Away with Erik All Day".

Because of her brush with death, Deborah is eager to devote her time and products to charitable work. The main character in her products is based on her nephew Eric, who has always been her inspiration and love.

Eric, an active-duty member of the United States Army, took his own life in August of 2013. Eric saw action in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Eric’s father served in the Air Force and saw action in the Middle East and Eric’s grandfather served in Europe during World War II on an artillery battery. Eric always looked up to his father and grandfather and there are many pictures of him as a child in military uniform. Eric loved learning and was inquisitive about everything. Eric was unwavering in his friendship and support, both to his Army buddies and his civilian friends. He was truly loved by all who knew him. He play-tested games and read and critiqued stories and was always interested in the products Deborah created. His energy will always be throughout the Erik products, including those yet to be developed.

Board of Directors


Deborah E. Brussolo
executive director
and President

Deborah spent several years working as a medical imaging service engineer. Deborah is President and Creative Director of DAB-A-DEW Corporation, and developed “Fishing Away with Erik All Day”, the first product line from DAB-A-DEW Corporation. She started “THE ERIK FOUNDATION” after losing her nephew Eric in the Army and wanting to reach out to those families in need.

Richard Williams
Chair

Mr. Williams is a Vice-President for CityTeam Ministries, an international, non-profit charity organization with offices in the United States and 51 other countries. Mr. Williams ran the Philadelphia office for several years and oversees Leadership Development and Training for CityTeam’s national disaster relief team. Richard served as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.

Chuck Mahon
Vice President Operations

Chuck brings a diverse background in many aspects of business operations. After owning his own construction company, where he remodeled private and industrial properties, Chuck held many positions, gaining significant project management, supervisory, budget and negotiating skills. Chuck managed facilities, equipment purchasing, scheduling, installation and maintenance while decreasing overall costs for three companies as he rose to the VP of Operations position at American Telecast Products. In over 20 years at American Telecast, Chuck supervised and maintained manufacturing tooling and quality control in factories in China and Taiwan. He also continued to keep costs down through negotiation with shippers in the United States. Chuck has extensive expertise in electronic equipment and security. Chuck has spent the last few years consulting in the overseas manufacturing and shipping fields, bringing his vast experience to bear for smaller companies needing help. Chuck is a United States Navy and Reserve Veteran who was in the SEABEES. He is now President and owner of Mahonster Sports Center Inc. and President of the Glenmoore/Eagle (PA) little league. Mr. Mahon enjoys his personal time with family and friends in the outdoors. 

Dr. Jacqueline Caramenico-Russell
Secretary

Dr. Russell has a chiropractic office near Philadelphia and is also skilled in Therapeutic Nutrition, Homeopathy and NET (Physiology of Emotions). She participates as a member of the multidisciplinary board for the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth. Dr. Russell also volunteers for Rubye’s Kids, an advocacy group for children living in poverty.

Brandon J. Frank
(Of Counsel)
Chair

Mr. Frank handles intellectual property and entertainment law. Over the past 10 years, he has served as counsel and advisor to individuals and companies in the areas of business development, operations and expansion, intellectual property protection and exploitation, marketing and promotions, digital media, technology development and management, branding and sponsorship, entertainment industry contracts, licensing intellectual property rights, talent/artist development, and entertainment property production and distribution.

Brandon is a co-founding member and advisor to two nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, MuzArt World Foundation, Inc based in Utah, and the Southern Museum of Music based in Atlanta, Georgia. MuzArt recently produced a major benefit concert with 650 performers and nearly 20,000 attendees to raise awareness about the importance of music and arts in education and in the lives of children and youth. He also serves as an advisor to the Right to Succeed Foundation, which is currently undertaking a national initiative focused on creating new and/or transforming 6,000 public K-12 schools to become Dream Schools over the next 10 years and deeply engage over 2.5 million students across all socioeconomic backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM).

The 'Big Picture'


It is the aim of The Erik Foundation to provide disadvantaged people with the support needed to become self-sustaining and independent. Our intended beneficiaries are anyone needing these types of support, with our primary emphasis on United States military veterans and their families.

In a like manner, we intend for The Erik Foundation to become self-sustaining in order to become less dependent on recurring annual donations as we build out our range of services to aid our veterans.    

We intend to offer support in the form of assistance with housing, life skills and career training, medical care, counseling, parenting skills, general education and other areas.

 We believe that a significant transportation gap exists for people in need of many forms of assistance and although there are existing avenues through which people can receive assistance, many of these avenues are closed if the intended beneficiaries cannot take advantage of them due to a lack of accessible transportation. Affordable and accessible transportation is a key element in providing many services, especially education, counseling and medical care.

 At first, we will provide beneficiaries with direct assistance in transportation and partner with established providers for assistance in education, medical care, counseling, housing and other needs. We will integrate these types of services within our scope of direct benefits as funding permits.

   In order to drive our self-sustainability, The Erik Foundation has a renewable exclusive license to a set of children’s products. We will have books, games and other products and media (TV shows/DVDs/movies), all oriented around a set of characters and their stories. We intend to vigorously pursue licensing opportunities for the characters.

 Our aim is to be self-sustaining through income generated by product donations and licensing of the product line. We intend to build a lasting legacy that supports our disadvantaged veterans and civilians and their families.