It may be 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, but Westchester County once again is making certain that the nearly 3,000 victims from that day, including more than 100 county residents, will always be honored.
For the 11th year since the catastrophe, the county and Volunteer New York! are partnering to offer the 9/11: Serve + Remember opportunities, this time a full weekend where local residents can participate in community service projects to remember those who perished.
“The most important thing is to remember what the 9/11 Day of Service is all about,” said Jeannette Gisbert, executive director of Volunteer New York! “It’s really about, if you speak to the family members, they want people to remember not the tragedy but how people ran to Ground Zero to help each other. That’s what they want to remember as their legacy, so that’s what we’re trying to do here, give people an opportunity to engage in community through volunteerism.”
Last week the nonprofit organization, along with the Westchester Parks Foundation and County Executive George Latimer, gathered at Kensico Dam Plaza to announce the events that are scheduled for that weekend.
Volunteers are encouraged to participate in a live webinar on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. Volunteer New York! Community Outreach Manager Charles Curtis will present a program called “Volunteering With Equity in Mind.” He will share tips on how to advocate for those in the community and bridge the gap between those who serve and are served.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, there will be two two-hour park cleanup efforts at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers and Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson. The two sessions at each location will run from 9 to 11 a.m. and 12 to 2 p.m.
Gisbert said the two park cleanups are new for this year’s commemoration for people who may be uncomfortable volunteering indoors because of the pandemic.
On Sunday, Sept. 12, there will be two volunteer hubs, one at Westchester Community College in Valhalla and the other at Iona College in New Rochelle. Volunteers can choose between making fleece blankets for children in local hospitals, creating literacy kits for elementary school students or making cards for deployed service members.
Those interested in participating can register in advance for either location for a 90-minute morning session starting at 10 a.m. or a two-hour afternoon effort beginning at noon.
Latimer said that for all the challenges the country is facing, the spirit of helping others is an example of what communities around the country can offer.
“When we think of America, that is the best of America, an America that sacrifices for each other, an America that doesn’t put its own individual desires first…and they sacrifice their lives so other people can live,” Latimer said.
On the afternoon of Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m., Westchester will hold its annual 9/11 ceremony at Kensico Dam Plaza. That same afternoon it will unveil a memorial to first responders and others who have died from illnesses related to working at Ground Zero. It will be located near the 9/11 memorial The Rising at the park.
Gisbert said more than 33,000 families and groups in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties have volunteered more than 400,000 hours of service for Volunteer New York! Their efforts benefitted over 300 nonprofits.
In the previous 9/11: Serve + Remember events, more than 10,000 volunteers have joined in the effort over the past decade, she said.
Anyone interested in volunteering that weekend, may register in advance by calling 914-948-4452 or visit volunteernewyork.org/service.