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Our Mission

Our Mission

To empower both active and retired first responders to address their mental and emotional health needs through the transformative power of peer support and the arts. Through our programs, we strive to create a safe and supportive community where first responders can share their experiences, find understanding, and pursue healing through the creative process. By providing these free programs, we can help first responders cope with the unique challenges of their profession and lead more fulfilling and healthy lives.


Our Story

Brendan McCarthy and Edmund Dalo are former Rhode Island career firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Each of them worked as a first responder for over ten years and live with job-related mental health diagnoses, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While working together, the duo bonded over a love of music and writing. That bond evolved into a brotherhood while they navigated their worsening mental health symptoms.

“Brendan was intuitively creating abstract paintings to cope, which were stunning. The paintings were often damaged and left outside; I thought if we organized the collection and tried to sell them, it would help Brendan, as he was in a tough situation. My brother Michael was the first buyer,” Edmund recalls.

Brendan knew there was more to Edmund’s interest and invited him to paint one day. “I held the puke bucket for him,” Brendan jokes.


“This creative process was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. To my horror and relief, this process exposed my inner world and subsequently changed my life.” 


They named the end product of this peer-supported, un-judged intuitive, creative process an “Authentic Abstraction” and started selling their works with unexpected success. As their portfolio expanded and conditions improved, they realized the potential to help others again was in reach. From this, Authentic Abstraction First Responder Foundation was born.


"Art went from a coping strategy to deal with the unfortunate realities of our work as firefighters to now being the gasoline and ignitor to the new fire we will be fighting - The fire of activism and advocation, creating, connecting, and healing."

Meet the Team

Board of Directors

Extended Team

Answer The Call!

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