9/11 Day Fifteen Years Later

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

Facing Off Against Terror

Catholic Charities volunteers successfully helped pack 500,000 meals on 911 Day

By Katie Tamola

I think about September 11th and that’s why I offered to cover 9/11 Day, an event that brought together hundreds of volunteers from Catholic Charities and other organizations to help pack meals for hungry New Yorkers and make something good come out of the horror that struck 15 years ago.

I think about the people hurt during the terrorist attack as I’m sure we all do. We have sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandparents, and children present in our minds.

I often think about how a lot of them may have felt as though they were having a great Tuesday. Maybe they somehow got a free coffee or felt that feeling when the E train comes right as you’ve stepped onto the platform. I think about marriages, baptisms, triumphs, births, and serendipitous joys that were robbed maliciously that day. I think about all the people who survived who will spend the rest of their lives trying to make sense of something that will never make sense.

I lately have been also trying to remind myself of what these people were. These were humans who had great love in their hearts and who brought great love into the lives of those who loved them. Fifteen years later, these people are still prominent gifts in our lives. I, among millions of other New Yorkers, am humbled every day by their sacrifice and selflessness.

Honoring 9/11: Small Things with Great Love

David Paine and Jay Winuk, co-founders of 9/11 Day, have started a movement that enables us to take small steps to reverberate the love in the hearts of those who died fifteen years ago.

Mother Teresa once said, “We can do small things with great love.”

This past Sunday, 15 years after the terrorist attack, several hundred volunteers from Catholic Charities and other organizations including Feed the Children, John Jay College, UJA Federation partnered with 9/11 Day at Basketball City to prepare 500,000 meals for the New York City hungry.

The co-founders greeted the crowds before the food-packing shifts began.

“It doesn’t matter your race or religion, or whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. 9/11 taught us that we are all one. That’s what inspired me to make today into something good,” Paine said when greeting the crowd.

Jay Winuk, who lost his brother Glenn on 9/11, described the event and day’s mission as “really special”. He added that he was very impressed that so many people would come out to display such love and compassion.

Volunteers United by Memories of Terrorist Attack

Divided into groups and sent to tables with food packaging supplies, volunteers were eager and elated to begin their service.

The Ortiz family came out on Sunday to volunteer together. Stephanie Ortiz, Program Coordinator for the Immigration Services Hotline at Catholic Charities of New York, said she knew it was something she wanted her family to do as a unit.  So she brought her family – her husband, Michael Ortiz Sr., daughter, Jocelyn, 18, and son, Michael Jr., 13.

“I saw the event and immediately called my family,” Stephanie Ortiz, said, recalling memories of the two planes crashing one after another into the World Trade Center towers.

The family came together in a beautiful fashion to do what all of the event’s volunteers set out to do: a small act of great love on the anniversary of a tragedy.

Inspiring Words from Multiple Faiths

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan reverberated the beauty and importance of just that when he participated in a Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim interfaith blessing before a shift of the event began.

“Together we pack a half a million meals. Our witness is not grandiose, but it does contain a clear message: Building a world of solidarity, service, and love is within the reach of every single person,” Monsignor Kevin Sullivan said.

Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA Federation, also spoke to the crowd of volunteers about the showing of solidarity that New York has possessed each day since the terrorist attacks in 2001.

“On 9/11, the Jewish community shared the profound grief of every New Yorker. Whatever our belief or background, we mourned as one, and we found strength in coming together,” Goldstein said. 

Volunteers weighed, packed, and assembled food that US Hunger brought to hungry New Yorkers the very same day. The crowds were passionate, jovial, yet cognizant of the immense sacrifice that 2,977 New Yorkers made fifteen years ago.

On Sunday, hundreds of New Yorkers attempted to pay homage to their 2,977 lost brothers and sisters through a small act of great love.

Over 500,000 meals were assembled, packed, and boxed for hungry New Yorkers.

They were small packages of food that each contained a great amount of love.

Check out our 9/11 Day Facebook photo album.

Katie Tamola is a native New Yorker, aspiring writer and high school English teacher in White Plains. 

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