Today, 10 years ago seems like yesterday, with all the media coverage that forces us to re-live the imagery of two iconic buildings collapsing and lives perishing. Back then, I was home with four children and my small community in Long Island had just lost 38 of our neighbors. Needless to say, we were all hands on deck for each other. That lasted for a few years, because we were so busy picking up pieces of peoples’ lives and trying to glue them together.
In fact, we are still emotionally available for each other.
When Tuesday’s Children approached me to become executive director, I embraced the opportunity as a chance to become a change agent for thousands of still suffering people and help carve a new niche in social services and serve a new population in the U.S. — victims of terror and families of first responders, who fell trying to save those 9/11 victims or died of acute respiratory problems after trying to save them.
Helping victims of terror recover is very different from helping victims of accidents or natural disasters. There’s an emotional quotient that is unique to how they suffer, how they grieve, and how they restore balance to their lives. Just imagine watching on television or on YouTube the World Trade Center towers collapse, over and over again, over the course of 10 years, knowing your dad or sister was on the 104th floor.
It is piercing, haunting, numbing, confounding. The pain of loss is immeasurable. So is the horror.
We have developed programs for this explicit sort of loss. And we have found in our journey of developing these programs and evaluating them, that we can adapt many of them for first responders. First responders need unique programs too, and if we don’t offer them, we won’t have any around to rush in and help, if and when we really need their help. First responders need to know that programs exist that help their families if anything happens to them in the line of fire. I see my work as my own form of service to our country, and it’s very gratifying.
Our nation needs our help. We need people to engage in human and social services that assist those touched by terror and other disasters in their own recovery. We need adults who can provide the services through training and education and volunteerism.
Here are 5 steps you can consider taking today:
1. Explore a career in social services. Your community college or state university has some of the nation’s best degree programs and career centers for these skills.
2. Seek positions with a non-governmental organization like American Red Cross, World Emergency Relief, or Presbyterian Disaster Assist. There are many that provide such services.
3. Volunteer for anything, if and when the time comes – whether it’s water distribution or blood donations.
4. Contact tuesdayschildren.org to get involved in your community. We have partners all over the globe in need of your support.
5. Be emotionally available to help others in the wake of terrorism, and become part of a living memorial that helps heal and recover.
I also invite you to contact me if you want to learn more about getting involved, or about ways you can help serve victims of terror and first responders: Terry@tuesdayschldren.org