Last week, we shared our first employee post about 9/11. This week, we’re bringing you another story from a New York Cares employee who volunteered through us on that day almost 10 years ago. Sue Craine, our Community Programs Director, writes about what she was doing when the planes hit and how she felt about volunteering afterwards.
On September 11, 2001, I had to be at my office, which was 3 blocks north of the World Trade Center at 7 a.m. I was working at a voter help line New York Cares ran yearly on primary day. I was also slated to start team leading a children’s Urban Adventure project that following weekend. By this time, I had been a New York Cares volunteer for 2 years and had been on a waitlist to lead a Urban Adventure project for about six months, and I was so excited to finally meet with a staff member to plan and discuss a fun day for children living in a domestic violence shelter.
Needless to say, everything changed for me in the next few hours. We were trapped in our building all morning with a bird’s eye view of everything that had happened. Once we were able to leave and regroup in Brooklyn, the rest of the day was spent trying to figure out if friends and colleagues were safe. Most of the phone calls were happy ones, but a few were not.
I didn’t even think about the Urban Adventure trip until a couple days later when I looked at a calendar. I got in touch with my New York Cares contact, and we rescheduled the trip for the following month.
The next few months were a blur. Days were spent trying to ensure that our organization would survive the attack and the economic aftermath. It was a frightening, stressful time, but whenever I got to the point where I didn’t want to deal with things, I would think about the kids in the shelter and it reminded me of how lucky I was. I had a home, a job, family and friends. It was true that I witnessed a terrible tragedy and had lost people. However, I was raised to not dwell on tragedies, and that it’s always best to try and make good things come from even the darkest of times. I would think about all the things the kids from the shelter would be able to do and see because of my work, my team of volunteers and New York Cares.
A group of those kids got to ride their first roller coaster that year because I was willing to spend the time planning a trip to Coney Island. They screamed, yelled and laughed all day long. It was opportunities like that that made me want to volunteer more with New York Cares and see how else I could give back to the city that I loved so much. Volunteering took on a whole new meaning after September 11th, and I look forward to getting to work on the 10th anniversary in honor of all the victims.