The Firebird Society of Bridgeport has performed mighty community and social work since its inception in 1983. That’s the message founding members Donald Day and Ron Mackey share in this commentary penned by Day following the arrest of Fire Captain Darrien Penix who was charged on Monday with second degree larceny accused of embezzling funds using the Firebird Society’s credit card and checking account for his personal use.
The fraternal organization created to fight for the rights of minority firefighters has stepped up on behalf of community charities as well, a message highlighting an effort larger than any one person.
From Donald Day:
After much consternation Ron Mackey and I as past Presidents and Founders of the Firebird Society decided that we must respond to the actions of the past president and his using the finances of the organization without permission. First let us say that we find the actions of the captain reprehensible and repugnant and in the thirty six (36) year history of our illustrious organization nothing this like has ever happened and like I told the vice president and the membership when we were first told of this incident and that they involved the police in this matter that it will have UNINTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES for the Firebird Society. Remember those two words, UNINTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES!
The Firebird Society has donated thousands of dollars to charitable organizations within the City of Bridgeport and for the most part has never said no to any request for help or assistance. Make no mistake about this, there is nothing that this individual did that should be considered a black eye toward the Firebird Society and we both think that this should have been handled internally, ESPECIALLY SINCE HE PAID THE MONEY BACK!
The very first smoke detector drive in the history of Bridgeport was done by me as President of the Firebird Society and Ron Mackey with the assistance of Kidde Corp and the Home Depot which donated smoke detectors to put in the homes of those people that didn’t have them or couldn’t afford them. The Firebird Society has given a cookout for thirty (30) years that is FREE to the public and in our heyday we fed three to four hundred people at our own expense. We’ve run study groups for hiring to the BFD that resulted in over forty young Blacks, Latinos and women being hired as Bridgeport firefighters. We have run study groups for promotions that have resulted in over thirty members of our organization being promoted to elevated ranks within the BFD. As you see we are a proactive organization that has an undivided and unyielding love for the city that pays our salary.
We find the actions of the vice president and the executive board to be counterproductive and against everything that the Firebird Society holds dear to the ideals and principles that aided us when this organization was first founded in 1983! Running to the police was a decision that was made by the vice president and the executive board and not that of the membership ESPECIALLY SINCE HE PAID THE MONEY BACK! I’ve never personally liked the captain, in fact when he first ran for president I told him and the membership that I thought that the organization deserved better than him because in my humble opinion he lacked a social conscience which is needed as our president for it to continue to grow and prosper.
Finally, those UNINTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES that I spoke to earlier in this article, Chief Richard Thode immediately cancelled a boot drive to raise money that the Firebird Society did to benefit the Southern Connecticut Sickle Cell Association in their fight against sickle cell disease which primarily affects Blacks. How dare you Chief Thode cancel this worthwhile endeavor because of this incident involving the captain? All money collected went straight to the Southern Connecticut Sickle Cell Association in a ceremony in front of Headquarters and wasn’t touched by this captain or any members of the Firebird Society and to cancel this was punitive, cruel and draconian.