Mitchell Serlin, Founder, Executive Director
Mitch Serlin founded the Hope for Heroes Foundation in September 2010 which began from a community need to heal Veterans and First-Responders from PTSD and other injuries by empowering them to get back to the things they love. Our mission is to help change that mindset by creating experiences that are physically and emotionally possible — and therapeutic — for all Heroes.
We often call our work at Hope for Heroes “camouflage therapy”, because the healing we provide takes place subconsciously -- but tangibly -- through participation in exciting and fun outdoor outings like hunting, deep-sea fishing, boating, hiking, kayaking, camping, competition barbecues and more.
Mitch Serlin is a retired Westchester County K-9 Police Officer and a 9/11 Ground Zero K9 responder. Mitch Serlin served as U.S. Army Sergeant of the 101st Airborne Division, with additional duty as Infantry Scout Sniper, and Desert Storm Combat Veteran.
Mitch joined the U.S. Army after he graduated college in 1989. Mitch was a team leader for a five (5) man reconnaissance team responsible for scouting the enemy's positions and relaying crucial intelligence to the battalion command staff. Mitch was also deployed to the Euphrates River Valley with his team's primary and secondary responsibilities were to provide reconnaissance and sniper support. Stemming from his time serving in a combat environment, Mitch was familiar with the struggles of PTSD.
Through his years of service, Mitch connected with Military, Fire, Police, and EMS heroes, who were also suffering from PTSD and other debilitating conditions. His desire for emotional and spiritual healing inspired him to start Hope for Heroes and create services for other everyday heroes who were in need of recovery and healing.
Mitch and the Hope for Heroes Foundation have served hundreds of disabled heroes since its inception.
Denise Potenza, Vice President
Denise Potenza has been a board member in the role of Vice President of Hope for Heroes since 2018. A close family friend and a co-worker with Mitch Serlin’s for over 20 years, Denise has watched the work of Hope for Heroes from the beginning. Denise began her service with Hope for Heroes in 2010 as one of their first volunteers and continued with her volunteer support until she became a board member.
Denise served as an NYPD Police officer from 1998 - 2002 making the decision to retire from the NYPD after 9/11.Shortly after, Denise began work at Westchester County Police Department in various roles including Police Academy Instructor.
Denise has always believed that the work of Hope for Heroes would become successful and grow. Years later, Denise continues to be inspired to help those who have gone above and beyond for their country.
Denise is proud of the success and growth and how it is evolving into offering support for the “whole person”. Heroes have many types of needs and Hope for Heroes strives to implement a multimodality approach to support our disabled Heroes.
Matthew Notaro, Treasurer
Mr. Notaro has been a supporter of Hope for Heroes since it was formed in 2010. Matt formerly joined the Hope for Heroes Foundation Board of Directors in (year) as the treasurer.
Matt Notaro brings to Hope for Heroes his passion for hunting, and fishing, and specializes in dog training. Matt is an ambassador of our Canine Companion Program and its specialized service of training and matching canine companions for our disabled Heroes.
Matt Notaro served as a City of Poughkeepsie Police officer prior to becoming a Westchester County Police K9 officer and trainer. Matt retired in 2015 after twenty-three years of service to the community. In addition, Matt is a Canine Instructor training first responder Handlers and their canines for service through the Northeast Houndsman organization.
Matt, although not a veteran himself, he carries the utmost respect for our past and present military and first responders and their daily sacrifice for our country. Getting involved with Hope for Heroes was a natural step for Matt. Matt’s work with Hope for Heroes is his opportunity to give back to those who gave it all for us and to show thanks.
Joseph Carinha, Secretary
Mr. Carinha has been actively involved with Hope for Heroes Foundation from the start volunteering his time when he could. Mr. Carinha became a Board Member as Secretary about 5 years ago.
An avid outdoorsman, Joe enjoys hunting, fishing, and his newest found hobby of Metal Detecting. Joe is a retired Veteran Detective of the NYC Police Department where he dedicated over 25 years of service retiring in 2013 out of the Manhattan North Homicide Squad.
For Joe, the Hope for Heroes Foundation became an extension of the Police Department. It offers the bond of brotherhood to all of those who serve(d) our country and communities. “It’s a way to give back and do the right thing for those who have the courage and dedication, and who unselfishly sacrificed themselves for duty, honor, and our freedom.” Joe is married to his wife Kathleen for 33 years, raised 2 children, and is now proud grandparents of 2 grandchildren with hopes of more to come.