After the destructive storm, dozens of 9/11 Memorial volunteers were eager to help in any way they could. These selfless men and women fanned out across the tri-state area to take part in hurricane relief and recovery efforts. Some aided clothing and food drives. Others helped families in hardest hit areas salvage whatever they could and clean up debris from homes that remained.
No task was too great for them.
"One thing I noticed on all of the people's faces was appreciation and humility -- that was remarkable to see," 9/11 Memorial volunteer Karmen Katz said to me after helping a family clean out their home's basement in the Rockaways in Queens.
One of our volunteers, who lost her own home in the storm, believed it was important to help others in her community. The response to Sandy reminds me of the citywide and global response after 9/11. In this city's greatest hour of need, and despite circumstances, people came together to help one another navigate the path to recovery.
I have the pleasure of working with a uniquely dedicated group of volunteers at the 9/11 Memorial. They help make a difference every day, and in turn, they are helping to preserve the memory of the nearly 3,000 men, women and children who died in the World Trade Center attacks of 1993 and 2001. One volunteer, Amy Lyons, told me that by volunteering at the memorial and helping visitors she was "honored to be a part of their experience."
Volunteers are crucial to our mission to honor and remember the victims of the attacks. I am always looking for good people to join us in that mission.
Recently, I attended career and community service fairs at local colleges to discuss memorial volunteer opportunities with students. It was interesting to hear their recollections of the attacks, though many were probably in elementary school at the time. Some of them told me they watched the events unfold live on TV, others said they were pulled out of classes, while more of them remarked that their parents worked in lower Manhattan. That day left a powerful mark on them and sparked a desire for them to give back. Many were interested in volunteering at the 9/11 Memorial, and I hope they do and spread word of the opportunity.
Memorial volunteers ensure every one of the more than 5.5 million visitors who have visited so far had a meaningful experience. They will continue to do so for the millions of future visitors.
Volunteer Lisa Daiboch explained her role this way. "If in some small way, I can be there for another person, and I am fortunate and blessed enough to be honored with their personal stories, I can end my day with a sense of purpose."
Whether responding to a natural disaster or honoring those lost on 9/11, our memorial volunteers embody the importance of community service.
We could use more volunteers like Katz, Lyons and Daiboch. To learn more about signing up to volunteer, please visit www.911memorial.org/volunteer.