Commentary on the genius and insanity present in daily life.
Many people have written, expressing thanks for what I have posted and support for what we all have been through. Far too many to recognize individually, but every letter has meant a great deal to me. My sincere thanks to every one of you! Otherwise, there are a few stories I want to share from what I've experienced in the time between then and now.
The Kindness of Strangers
Many of you who read these pages and look at the pictures have, I am sure, donated to many of the various relief funds and agencies that helped to pull the lives of those affected by the attack on the WTC back together. As someone who has received aid from those organizations, I cannot begin to express how much the support has meant to me ... it continues to support me as I keep looking for a job here in NYC.
The first group I want to mention is the American Red Cross.
You may or may not recall the controversy caused by the former director of the Red Cross back in October or so who said that some money raised through donations to the September 11th relief effort would be set aside for the organization to use for other emergencies. I think the Red Cross was given a very undeserved "black eye" for this, seeing how much most Americans tend to ignore them most of the time ... yet they always show up where they are needed most. As someone who lost his job due to the attack and, given the job market since then, hasn't been able to find a new job, the Red Cross has been what has kept me afloat, allowing me to stay here in NYC and keep pursuing my dreams instead of leaving town and taking a job somewhere else outside of the line of work that I do. After looking at my documentation—lease, bills, and other financial documents—they were able to provide me with enough monetary support back in November/December to keep my apartment, keep eating, and keep looking for a job doing what I do best. Along with some money brought in by a few part-time, short term work assignments, I've been able to stretch that money out till now and should be able to eke things out through the next few months. With the economy showing signs of improving (thanks to consumers and not the corporations in this country), business has been picking up and things are looking more hopeful.
Another group that helped out a lot is Safe Horizon.
The Red Cross I had heard of, of course, but Safe Horizon? I had no idea who they were and what they did. Not only did they provide me with a grant to cover some of my lost wages, but as an administrator for the September 11th Fund I also received some financial assistance from this charity. Along with the Red Cross, Safe Horizon's aid is still helping me stay current with my rent and other bills.
I didn't talk with the Salvation Army (I was too overwhelmed with the support from other organizations), but they were there at the "end of the line" of aid organizations, trying to catch any need for anyone that did not get covered by the others. All of these organizations were pulled together at disaster assistance centers managed by FEMA, who did a great job of getting people in the door, matching needs with charities available, and checking you out on the other side to see if you needed another appointment at a later date. There were all sorts of other city, state, and federal agencies there to help. The Salvation Army was also there to serve meals, since going through the lines for these charities took a lot of time (I spent four full days there).
But even waiting in line, there was all sorts of support all around us. I imagine that every elementary school class across the country must have taken the time out to have their children write letters to the rescue workers ... there were letters posted everywhere inside the relief center (not to mention at all the firehouses and police stations I've walked by in the last 6 months). The center was also junk food heaven: many companies donated goods instead of money. Soda, candy bars, crackers, bottled water (the must have drained Poland Spring!), chips, cookies. The Red Cross received a lot of non-food items, which wound up in "care packages" given to people who received aid from them—from hand cream to phone cards to teddy bears.
I guess the most important thing I wanted to bring out is some reassurance for anyone out there reading who donated money and were wondering if it was doing any good: from what I saw around me those days I spent at the relief center, a lot of people were getting a lot of assistance and, from it, a lot of hope. Thanks!
Remembering September 11th
There are a number of things going on here in NYC to mark this sixth month anniversary of the attack. Two of importance to me are the dedication of a temporary memorial down at the Battery and the columns of light from spotlights that will light up the sky at the sight of the Twin Towers, beginning tonight. I hope to get some pictures of these posted in the next few days once I get a chance to get down there and see them for myself. So check back later this week....
Comments, as always, are welcome.