09/09/2011 07:02 pm ET | Updated Nov 09, 2011

Serving Others Makes America Great

All Americans remember where they were on September 11, 2001. Ten years ago today, I was in my office in Alexandria, VA, and I heard the explosion at the Pentagon from my window. It was a sad and frightening day that left many of us feeling vulnerable and unsure of our safety as Americans.

Despite the shock and the sorrow, we refused to let the attacks weaken our great nation. We emerged from that day with a renewed commitment to one another, united with a common goal to help strengthen our communities and our country. Over the years, I am proud that September 11 has evolved into a day of solemn introspection and service to our friends, families and fellow Americans.

At Goodwill Industries International, we are grateful for the many volunteers who have supported our mission of helping people find employment and become independent while strengthening our communities.

People who donate their time to Goodwill Industries® do so in a variety of ways. Some families serve meals at a Goodwill® homeless shelter. Many professionals lend their expertise to review resumes or help job seekers practice their interviewing skills. Often, retirees teach English as a second language. And caring adults are mentoring students through the Goodwill GoodGuides® program, while school children are organizing donation drives to help fund Goodwill's mission.

We all have skills and talents to share with our communities, and we all can make a difference. In honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Goodwills across the country who are involved in the AmeriCorps program will participate in a national pledge of service in remembrance of September 11. The mission of this call to action is to provide a positive and forward-looking way for Americans and others to forever honor and remember the 9/11 victims, survivors and the many that rose in service in response to the 9/11 tragedy, including first responders, recovery workers, volunteers, public safety officers and members of our military.

This year, Goodwill Industries started a new initiative to expand job training, placement and employment services to not only thousands of Americans, but also to veterans and military families. Through the initiative known as the Goodwill for America's Heroes and Their Families, the organization aims to hire 1,300 military spouses, veterans and their families. That's 20 percent of Goodwill's overall targeted employee growth for the next year. Goodwill agencies around the country also plan to provide face-to-face career and family strengthening services to more than 15,000 military spouses, veterans and their families, and are prepared to provide virtual career services that can be linked to military websites, expanding these services to tens of thousands more people.

While time often heals our wounds, I hope that Americans will take the time to remember those who perished on September 11, 2001, and the brave sacrifices our country's service members have made since that time.

I'd like to give my sincere thanks to our nation's volunteers -- both those who serve Goodwill and those who help other community-based organizations fulfill their missions. Whether volunteering to meet needs during times of crisis or to help with ongoing social problems and create better communities, Americans coming together to do good have formed the foundation of our nation and they make our country strong.

To locate a Goodwill near you or to find volunteer opportunities, visit, or call 1(800) 741-0186.

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