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NYC Firefighter, Jacqueline Benel, Honored with the Freedom Mortgage 2023 Celebrate Freedom Award


Fourth annual contest to honor a service member or frontline worker. Award presented July 4 at the Wawa Welcome America Festival in Philadelphia.

Jul 5, 2023, 2:47:13 PM GMT

Boca Raton, FL - July 5, 2023 - Freedom Mortgage, one of the largest full-service independent mortgage companies and a top Veterans Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lender in the U.S., has named Jacqueline Benel of New York this year's winner of the company's Celebrate Freedom Award. Benel was officially recognized on July Fourth at the Wawa Welcome America Festival in Philadelphia, where the Celebration of Freedom ceremony was held in front of Independence Hall. Benel received a check for $10,000 from Freedom Mortgage and a trip for two to the festival.

The Celebrate Freedom Award is open to all service members, veterans, first responders, and healthcare workers who enter and answer the question: "What does freedom mean to me?"

As a New York City Firefighter, Benel constantly puts herself in harm's path, but views it as a way to fully live up to the opportunities presented to her. "Freedom to me means possibilities, opportunities, and feeling like you're never alone," said Benel.

Benel immigrated to the United States with her mother from Peru, who wanted to give her a better life. She uses her freedom to give back as a first responder and is motivated by her three children.

"I'm so grateful to receive this award from Freedom Mortgage," said Benel. "I don't think moms-especially the single ones-get appreciated and this honor makes me feel very appreciated and recognizes my work at home and as a first responder. The winning will allow me to make some home improvements for my girls and me."

Stanley C. Middleman, Freedom Mortgage president and CEO, said, "It was inspiring to hear from so many heroes during our annual Celebrate Freedom Award contest. We must always recognize the impacts they make on our communities along with their many sacrifices. Congratulations to Jacqueline Benel on receiving this year's award; we thank you and all other first responders, veterans, service members, and healthcare workers for your service."

For the first 600 submitted applications for the Celebrate Freedom Award, Freedom Mortgage made a $5 donation to both Feeding America® and the USO (United Service Organizations). A total donation of $6,000 was split evenly between both organizations. helping to provide at least 30,000 meals* to people facing hunger and supporting programs for service members and their families, respectively.

Through Freedom Cares, Freedom Mortgage's employee engagement and philanthropic program, the company provides assistance to many charities, including those that support military service members, veterans, and their families. Last year, the company and its employees donated more than $625,000 to support several organizations, including Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, MBA Opens Doors Foundation, The Salvation Army, and Toys for Tots, among others.

For more information on Freedom Mortgage's philanthropic efforts, visit

*$1 helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local partner food banks.

About Freedom Mortgage

Freedom Mortgage is a non-bank, full-service mortgage company that provides mortgage loan servicing and originations through retail, wholesale, and correspondent channels. As the nation's fifth largest mortgage provider, licensed in all 50 states, Freedom Mortgage is renowned for providing world-class service to its clients, borrowers and partners. The company was founded in 1990 and is headquartered in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. 

About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. As a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 agency partners, including food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.2 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About the USO

The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, the support of our corporate partners, and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission and learn more about the USO, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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