If you are old enough to remember, you will never forget. If everyone has a story, then on this day, everyone lived a story they will share as long as they are alive.
Today we remember and in many respects still search for a way to heal and help others to do the same.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (120): A Towering Purpose
Dori Chait could see the plane, she had an unobstructed view of the towers as she conducted business for Merrill Lynch on the 53rd floor of the Citigroup building in New York City. “I was in my office doing my work”, says Dori. “I had my news channel going, and remember when the TV changed to the view of the burning building. I looked from the TV screen to my window, and back and forth again in disbelief. We all gathered in my office, and thought there had been a bad accident. Somebody grabbed binoculars, and I saw a plane flying into my view and thought ‘oh my god another plane must be coming to help’… and all of a sudden I saw the plane go through the other building.
“I screamed, dropped the binoculars and panic ensued in our office. Everyone grabbed their stuff and ran, it’s a blur. I do remember my friend Susie Goldberg and I got downstairs and stood on the street. Brooke Shields was doing a shoot in our building which was immediately evacuated so she was there too. The three of us all walked uptown to 96th street, shaking and crying and then Susie and I separated from Brooke. The city was a ghost town. You didn’t see a car anywhere and the smoke filled the streets. People were walking uptown, covered in soot. We were just all gathering on the street, and around 9 o’clock that night we were allowed to go downtown. I lived on 33rd street, and I remember our apartment smelled so terrible. So much of the day is a blur. I remember what I was wearing and what the sky looked like, but those are the only clear memories. It was traumatic, very traumatic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a plane the same way since.”
Alexandra Ade (Alex) was a bit younger, living in northern Virginia near Washington DC. She had a different perspective, being in her early teens and knowing so many parents who worked for the government. Alex says when the plane hit the Pentagon it too was traumatic. “Our lives changed so dramatically”, says Alex. “It changed your perception of the world and in a way we were all directly affected. There was this loss of innocence and despair in the moment. But since then we’ve done such a good job of commemorating it. We are commemorating by doing good work and creating a legacy.”
To create a legacy you must live a life of significance and that means finding a way to give back. Enter Dori and Alex. Because the memories are so fresh, as is the desire to help others and themselves to do more the two women have joined forces to champion the cause of Tailgate With a Purpose, part of the Day to Unite program for the Jewish Volunteer Connection. It’s a way to enable anyone to volunteer, for when we give of ourselves we bring peace by our presence and are present in our lives and for those we are helping.
Though the anniversary of 9/11 is the kick-off for the program, it all goes so much deeper than the memories of that day. Alex says there is a need for the community to officially engage people in volunteerism. “We look for ways to incorporate volunteerism into everyone’s life”, says Alex. It’s one of the reasons the JVC was created 15 years ago and why this year, on the 15th anniversary for not only the organization, but of that fateful day in 2001, the program is kicking-off with Tailgate With a Purpose.
Dori explains: “Since September 11th has such significance in our lives, Alex and I wanted to create something which is significant. But as we planned this event we knew there were obstacles to this day, (as there are to any day), with simply asking people to volunteer. One of the biggest is that there is a Ravens game today. Baltimore is obsessed with the Ravens and people plan everything around the game. We want people to be service oriented but not take them away from what they want to do. So we came up with an idea to incorporate giving back while watching the Ravens. We turned this into an event for today, but which will continue the entire football season, even during away games, where people even watching the game in their home can participate.”
On the website, (http://jvcbaltimore.org/volunteer-offerings/daytounite/), you can register for tailgate bags, and if not today, can still do this all season long. There you can also see the other volunteer opportunities happening throughout the month. Alex says one of the biggest challenges of volunteering for people is knowing where to give, this is how Tailgate With a Purpose can help, giving guidance and specific instructions on where and how to make a difference – and that makes all the difference in the world.
It doesn’t simply have to be hosting a Ravens party to find a way to volunteer today, or any Sunday for that matter, to find a way to give back. For example right before today’s game you could head down to Flight One Carriers in Baltimore, (right near the Ravens Stadium), and join the Repair the World team, where volunteers can eat tailgate food, watch the game, and pack crisis/disaster relief boxes for community emergencies and needs. The more the merrier to help others in need. All the information is on the Day to Unite website (http://jvcbaltimore.org/volunteer-offerings/daytounite/).
You can also get creative about creating a Tailgate party to give. Dori’s son has a baseball game today so instead of a Ravens tailgate, the parents and players are doing a tailgate before the baseball game right there in the Fort Garrison parking lot. Dori says by getting creative with giving you provide the children the exposure to what it means to give back. Many of the donations on this day, whether it be food, supplies or money will be given to the First Responders in the community, to recognize those who are on the front lines every day, including the heroes of 9/11.
“I think people are looking for things to do to commemorate September 11th in a way that feels good and give back and embrace diversity”, says Dori. “I think about the kind of people who were affected by that day and it is every race, every religion, economic status, from First Responders to financial executives. People from all walks of life connected with one another, it didn’t matter who you were, people were kinder and nicer and more giving… that’s the spirit of this day.”
Yet it is really the spirit of any day you decide to give back. It’s why Alex is so passionate about mission of the Jewish Volunteer Connection and in giving as a larger purpose: “I think for me it’s exposing people to, or encouraging them to understand they can do service anywhere. I think that’s the spirit of volunteerism. There is a way to incorporate good deeds and good work in anything that you do. Just put in some effort and its possible and available to anyone. You can have fun doing that watching the Ravens game and do something to make someone’s life a little better. Doing something that really makes an impact is my core value.”
For Dori, who witnessed the horror of 9/11 right out her office window, this year it’s a way to truly heal. “For me this days has always been a heartache and this year it’s the first time I’ve been presented with an opportunity to do something other than feel sad and just have the memories of that day. I know I will still feel that but now I can make the day even more important. Maybe I needed 15 years to get to that place, but I am grateful Jen Grossman asked me to participate with JVC because I am passionate about giving back and for me the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”
Today we all remember and we should never forget. But to move forward, the best way to draw out the best from that day is to give. A day for all of us to unite in the human spirit…powerful, resilient and undefeated.
Make today your day for a towering purpose of giving.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
#tailgatewithapurpose #daytounite #jvcbaltimore
(You can also expand your giving by hosting a Party with a Purpose, details are here: http://jvcbaltimore.org/partywithapurpose/)
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