As another anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, it is natural to wonder the best way to remember and honor the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost that day.
Since 2011, Westchester County has partnered with Volunteer New York! to hold 9/11: Serve + Remember, an effort where residents can participate in one or more volunteer efforts throughout the day to help a nonprofit organization or another worthy cause.
Alisa Kesten, executive director of Volunteer New York! said many of the victims’ families have fought hard to have Sept. 11 become a national day of service to help communities and the less fortunate around the United States.
“They did so to create a legacy, a legacy that will always be around, that should always be remembered, and we do that each year by doing good together for our community,” Kesten said during an announcement last Thursday afternoon at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla to promote the Serve + Remember program.
Volunteer efforts around Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties will actually start this weekend, Sept. 7 and 8, for those who may not have the time on a workday to participate, she said. Some of the efforts include creating literacy kits for Head Start programs, providing clothing to children from needy families, packing back-to-school kits, spending time with seniors or working to clean and restore environmentally sensitive areas such as trail and lake clean up at Teatown Lake Reservation.
Then next Wednesday, Sept. 11, people will be able to participate in a service project at the County Center in White Plains to help about 35 nonprofit organizations. Residents can donate blood, support families in emergency shelters, package and donate diapers or help to feed the hungry by making sandwiches, among many other projects.
Last year, a few thousand people were estimated to have signed up for Serve + Remember, according to Volunteer New York! and it’s looking for even greater response this year. Most of the activities this weekend and on Sept. 11 are appropriate for families with children.
County Executive George Latimer said volunteering to help community organizations is not only a way for people to make a difference on a day that remains difficult for many Americans, but to help others have a better life.
“This program brings some closure to those of us who remember that day personally, most of us here, not all of us,” Latimer said. “It brings closure to that. It’s a way to honor those lives that were lost and those lives that were changed forever that day to put something positive to what is horrific.”
David Singer, of Robison Oil, one of the sponsors of Serve + Remember, said instead of feeling helpless and hopeless, the program can encourage anyone to give of themselves for one day. For many who have participated before, volunteerism can become contagious and it is something that is done on a regular basis, he said.
Board of Legislators Chairman Ben Boykin (D-White Plains) said when volunteers step forward, they often help to transform lives.
“It is very important to volunteer because we help those that are less fortunate, we help those in need and in pain,” Boykin said. “We’re helping those that if we give a little push to it may make the world a better place.”
For anyone interested in participating on Sept. 7, 8 or 11, they can view the list of projects for each day and register by visiting www.volunteernewyork.org/service or by calling 914-948-4452.
County to Hold 9/11 Memorial Ceremony
Westchester County will be honoring and remembering the Westchester residents who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, with a memorial ceremony at The Rising located at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. For anyone wanting to attend, an RSVP is encouraged by e-mailing Communications@WestchesterGov.com.