Thanks once again to all of you who attended Voices of September 11th’s Commemorative Luncheon to observe the fourth anniversary of 9/11. The Luncheon was a great success thanks to all of you who took time out of a very difficult day to share your strength with fellow family members. Every year, we are inspired by the tremendous emotional support our families provide for each other. We hope all who attended the Luncheon found it to be a fitting environment to remember and celebrate the lives of our loved ones. Many pictures of the families who attended, as well as our distinguished guests are available for viewing on VOICES’ website. The picture above shows VOICES members participating in the candle lighting ceremony that opened the Luncheon program.
We were very pleased that four Congressional leaders for 9/11 legislation attended our Luncheon to accept VOICES 2005 Building Bridges Awards. We offer our congratulations once again to award recipients Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA), and Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) along with our thanks for their efforts to enact reforms in America's intelligence and security services to make our country safer. VOICES also honored the Robin Hood Foundation with a Building Bridges award for their outstanding support to service providers for those impacted by 9/11. Two 9/11 family members, Carol Ashley and Laureen Selitto were recognized at the Luncheon for their ongoing efforts to promote public policy reform for prevention, preparedness and response related to terrorism.
We know many of you attended other memorial events in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, and hope you had a peaceful and healing observance. We hope all of you, especially those who could not join us this year, will accept an early invitation for VOICES fifth anniversary commemoration event.
September 10, 2005
VOICES Information Forum
Many thanks to all who attended and participated in the 2005 VOICES of September 11th Information Forum. This year’s event was our largest yet, with a host of support groups, panel discussions, workshops and service providers. The Forum also featured a children’s program and opportunities for family members to experience alternative therapy treatments provided by St. Vincent’s WTC Healing Services. Summaries of the information panels are offered below, along with web links to help you learn more about the very important issues they addressed.
WTC Memorial and Fresh Kills
Many VOICES families chose to attend this hearing on important issues related to memorializing our loved ones and ensuring proper burial. Kurt and Diane Horning, founders of WTC Families for Proper Burial (link to (http://www.wtcfamiliesforproperburial.com/) , have worked tirelessly to have the remains of WTC victims now found at Fresh Kills dump removed to an appropriate site for respectful burial. Diane Horning’s remarks (internal link) to open the discussion frames the important issues involved. Also joining the panel to discuss the World Trade Center memorial were 9/11 family members who actively oppose the International Freedom Center (IFC). Take Back the Memorial coalition members Anthony Gardner, Monica Iken, etc. Jack Lynch (links) joined VOICES Founding Director Mary Fetchet for an in-depth examination of current plans for the WTC Memorial site. With input from the audience, the panel explained why many family members are upset about the planned IFC, and feel it is inappropriate for the sacred ground of the Memorial. This week the effort to remove the IFC got a boost from Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who said she opposes the center because of “serious concerns that family members and first responders have expressed to me.” Read article. (Link to http://www.voicesofsept11.org/artman/publish/WTC/article_002012.php)
The 9/11 Commission Reforms
VOICES was honored to have 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer at our Forum to update our families on the progress of the Commission’s recommendations for reform. For the past year, Roemer and his fellow Commissioners have been monitoring the government’s response through the 9/11 Public Discourse Project (PDP) (link to www.9-11pdp.org) . VOICES members Mary Fetchet and Carol Ashley attended many of the hearings the PDP held this summer in Washington, D.C. They joined the panel to add their experiences and insights from years of working with the Commission and Congress to support vital 9/11 legislation, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Overall, the government has responded with varying effectiveness to the Commission’s recommendations, according to Roemer. But the flawed response to Hurricane Katrina shows that much work remains to be done, especially in the areas of communications for first responders and creating an integrated, coordinated emergency response plan for federal, state and local agencies. Click here to read a full version of the PDP’s report (link to http://www.9-11pdp.org/press/2005-09-14_report.pdf) , issued on September 14, 2005.
WTC Memorial Design Team Presentation
WTC Memorial designer Michael Arad and officials from the LMDC joined VOICES Forum for a lively presentation and discussion of the planned Memorial design: “Reflecting Absence.” (make it a link to: http://www.wtcsitememorial.org/fin7.html) Using a multimedia presentation, Arad showed the audience many computer-generated views of the memorial, as well as pictures taken of a simulated corner section of the Memorial constructed in Ontario, Canada earlier this year. The panel, which also included Max Bond, the lead LMDC architect on the Memorial and Anne Papageorge, a top LMDC official, touched on many aspects of the Memorial including formal design elements, its placement largely below ground level, and plans accommodate the large number of visitors expected. Many of the important issues discussed are found in a recent column by reporter David W. Dunlap (link to http://www.voicesofsept11.org/artman/publish/WTC/article_001989.php), who covered the VOICES Forum for the New York Times.
Community, Family and Personal Preparedness
Mark D. Cohen, an official with the New York State Homeland Security Department gave a presentation on community, family and personal preparedness at the Forum. Throughout this month, VOICES has been working with the Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov) and the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) to promote the September is National Preparedness Month campaign (link to http://www.voicesofsept11.org/artman/publish/cat_index_149.php ) . Mr. Cohen stressed that national preparedness begins at home, and his multimedia presentation highlighted easy ways that VOICES families can take a proactive role in preparing for a terrorist attack or natural disaster, including putting together an emergency kit, making a disaster communications plan and other important topics.
WTC United Family Group - Oklahoma City Exchange: “Sharing Grief”
In an emotional session facilitated by Anthony Gardner, Executive Director and Founder of WTC United Family Group (www.wtcufg.org) , VOICES families were joined by individuals directly affected by the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing who shared experiences and resiliency strategies. The devotion of the Oklahoma City families to helping all people affected by terrorism is truly inspirational, and VOICES is proud that they chose to share the September 11th Commemorative weekend with us this year.
Alternative Therapy Workshop:
Many of our family members received alternative therapy treatments on the fifth floor from the St. Vincent’s WTC Healing Services (http://www.svcmc.org/wtc/default.asp) Individual consultations for various types of alternative therapies including Reiki, Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy were available throughout the September 10th Information Forum. Other wellness and relaxation techniques were also discussed including meditation, yoga, and journaling.
Creating a Memorial Foundation Workshop
This workshop, presented by September’s Mission (www.septembersmission.org) , StoryCorps (www.storycorps.net), and VOICES, taught family members how to memorialize their loved one through foundations and oral history projects. Participants were encouraged to register (link to https://www.voicesofsept11.org/registration_memo_found.php )with VOICES so we can promote their foundation and related special events on our website. Click here to add your foundation to VOICES list, or to announce an upcoming event. Thanks to Jay Winuk of StoryCorps and Madeline Pace of VOICES for heading the workshop.
Financial Planning Workshop
Valerie Adelman of the Financial Planning Association (www.fpanet.org) helped family members take charge of their children’s financial security. Strategies were presented for teaching kids to be money smart in planning for their futures, from estate planning to daily discipline in spending habits.
VOICES Youth Program at the September 2005 Forum was a big hit with our youngest members. Under the direction of VOICES’ Director of Family Programs Dr. Robin Goodman, the art, music, recreation, and infant activities were specially geared to children age infant through 16. The professional group leaders, Bily Ayers, John Cashman, Eileen McGann, and Susan Liniker and many volunteers did a great job making it a fun and inspiring day for those who attended. On view for the children was a beautiful quilt made from panels created by the child participants at the Spring Forum in April, our thanks to Leslie Pressley who beautifully assembled the pieces. The quilt, seen here, was unveiled on September 10th. We also thank the many children who painted new panels for the next quilt that will serve as a record of the September 2005 Information Forum. VOICES looks forward to expanding and enhancing our children’s activities for future Forums and events.
We were very excited that so many family members participated in the support groups at the Voices of September 11th Information Forum. Based on the overwhelming success of support groups at VOICES Information Forum, VOICES will begin evening teleconference support groups for siblings and for grandparents, both starting in October. All those who are interested in participating can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call VOICES at 866-505-3911. Meeting times will be based on participant availability. The telephone groups are provided at no cost to the participants but prior registration is required. At this time, VOICES offers teleconference groups for Adult Children; Dads; Firefighter's Moms; Parents; Rescue and Recovery Workers; Survivor's and Witnesses; Siblings; and Wives. To see a complete schedule for the teleconference and in-person support groups offered by VOICES, please click here.
Over the next several months we will be expanding our teleconference groups to meet your requests. In October we will begin an evening teleconference group for siblings as well as a teleconference group for grandparents. We also invite you to join one of our eleven existing teleconference groups. Please contact our office to register.
This year, VOICES Information Forum was honored by the presence of many quilts that reflect the shared loss of our families and honor the heroes of 9/11.
America’s Quilts: The Victim’s Quilt ( www.911memorialquilts.com ) This massive quilt was a perfect background for VOICES’ Commemorative Luncheon on September 11th. It is a powerful and eloquent record for all Americans who have fallen victim to recent terrorist attacks. America’s Quilts is seeking photos for those victims whose image in not yet on the quilt. They will not add a picture without permission from a family member. To add your loved one’s likeness to the Victim’s Quilt, please contact:
America's 9-11 Memorial Quilt Organization
Jeannie Ammermann, President
1278 Sweetwater Lane #101
Naples, Florida 34110
Phone 239-594-9966 or cell 239-293-0136
www.911memorialquilts.com Flag of Remembrance ( http://www.flagofremembrance.com/ )
The Flag of Remembrance depicts the victims of the WTC attacks in a “stars and stripes” pattern. The viewer experiences a dramatic effect as they draw closer to the quilt and the victim’s faces emerge from the larger pattern. The Flag of Remembrance is also seeking photos of WTC victims. Please visit their website to learn more.
VOICES Information Forum also featured the “America, One Nation Under God” quilt created by middle-school students from Elmhurst, NY (teacher). Also on view were several Art For Heart quilts made by children directly affected by 9/11. We hope you find the time to view these powerful tributes to our loved ones.
As always, VOICES enjoyed a visit from the Smile Retrievers, four wonderful therapy dogs owned by Mario and Karen Canzoneri. Since 9/11, the Canzoneri’s have frequented Ground Zero and numerous other sites with their golden retrievers Jake, Jessie, Mattie and Macie to provide comfort and companionship to the grieving families, rescue workers and volunteers of 9/11. These four-legged therapists rekindle memories of comfort and affection in a time of despair and we were very happy they could join us again at the Forum. Wonderful pictures of the dogs relaxing at the Forum with some of VOICES’ younger members are available on the website.
The success of VOICES depends in large part upon the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. From the daily tasks of running an office to the smooth operation of VOICES Information Forums and events, VOICES is indebted to them for their commitment and belief in our mission. Pictured above are just a small number of the volunteers who have worked with VOICES. At this years Information Forum (from left to right) are Carmella Camello, Barbara Spasiano, Gerry Basile, Fulvia Alfano, Dee Twordy, Chris Kirjanowicz, Nancy Cotiaux and Diane Schaber; also Peggy Toce, Babs Horner and Barkey Powell. On behalf of VOICES, we give these volunteers a whole-hearted thank you!
Service Providers One of the main goals of our Information Forum is to connect our membership with the many wonderful organizations dedicated to supporting the 9/11 families. We hope many of you took the opportunity to connect with service providers at the September 10th Forum, and will continue to use the planning, resiliency, and wellness resources that they provide. Thanks again to the many service providers who attended the Forum—VOICES appreciates your commitment and our families are deeply grateful for your efforts on behalf of all those affected by 9/11. Service providers participating in the Forum included:
9/11 Health Insurance Group
9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt www.911memorialquilts.com
American Red Cross 9/11 Recovery Program http://www.redcross.org/general/0,1082,0_152_1392,00.html
Art for Heart
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NY/NJ http://www.bbbsa.org/site/pp.asp?c=iuJ3JgO2F&b=14584
Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund www.cantorrelief.org CARRI 9/11 Program
Faithful Response ( http://www.ldrny.org/faithful_response/faithful_response.asp
Families of Freedom Scholarships www.familiesoffreedom.org
Financial Planning Association www.fpanet.org
Flag of Honor
Flag of Remembrance http://www.flagofremembrance.com/
Home Ground www.homeground.org
Lower Manhattan Development Corp. www.renewnyc.com
Office of the Medical Examiner – NYC http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/ocme/html/dirmedex.html