July 25, 2008
Dear Families and Friends,
As we enter the final week in July, I am sure many of you are discussing with your families how and where to observe the upcoming seventh anniversary. You may have heard the wonderful announcement by the Port Authority that families will be able to descend to bedrock at the World Trade Center site on September 11th. We have included further information about the announcement in our “In the News” section below.
Over the past seven years VOICES has hosted an annual September 10th Forum and a September 11th Commemorative Luncheon at the Marriott Financial Center hotel, just adjacent to Ground Zero. Providing an opportunity for the 9/11 community to gather during the anniversary events has always been a priority for VOICES. In the past, the event was generously sponsored by a number of foundations whose 9/11-related funding ended last year. We are hopeful that VOICES will be able to host our two day event again this year and are working with the National September 11 Memorial Museum to secure funding. We expect to have an answer by the end of next week.
On a related topic, at a time when the needs of those impacted still exist, funding to support 9/11 organizations is disappearing and many have regretfully closed their doors. As VOICES meets one-on-one with 9/11 families, rescue workers and survivors around the country during our 9/11 Living Memorial workshops, we have seen a significant increase in those who seek our services. Providing ongoing support and continuity of care has always been a fundamental principle of our organization, yet this year we will also have to make difficult choices regarding the best use of our limited resources.
In the next few weeks we will provide details about VOICES’ plans for September 10th and 11th. If we do not find a sponsor for the Forum and Luncheon at the Marriott, we will explore other locations in close proximity to the WTC site to host a smaller event. As always, we welcome your suggestions about sources of funding or facilities available in the downtown area that would enable us to provide a quiet place for families to gather as we have done in the past. We appreciate your generous support of our activities and will keep you informed of our plans.
Mary and the Voices Staff
VOICES Programs and events
Mental Health Support Still Crucial to VOICES' Members
A recent survey of those who use VOICES’ mental health services shows that our support is still crucial to those impacted by 9/11. And our growing membership and outreach through the 9/11 Living Memorial project is revealing differing and even greater needs as we travel across the nation to meet with people who have not had the same levels of access to service and support.
Participants in our teleconference support groups and other services describe them as “a life saver” and a place to connect with people who understand them because of their shared experience. Said one participant” “I think that VOICES’ model of supportive conference calls and its welcoming attitude towards all who were affected should become a best practice for long-term disaster recovery programs, especially when a large population of affected people livie in communities outside of which a disaster occurred.”
96% of respondents felt the groups were meeting their needs, and 88% reported an improvement in their ability to cope after being part of the group. Adapting to changing needs and increased demand as a result of 9/11 Living Memorial outreach, we have added a new parents’ teleconference group to its schedule. A final comment from a participant truly brings home why VOICES’ services are still so important: “When the rest of the world has moved on, we find ourselves wringing our hands and silencing our voices because it is nearing seven years since our lives changed for ever. (In the teleconference group) we can talk about anything with people who understand, people who won’t think we’re crazy for still NEEDING to talk! Please continue to let us be heard by our peers.” Below is this week's teleconference schedule:
Monday, July 28th: Evening Siblings Group 7:00PM to 8:00PM
Tuesday, July 29th: Parents Tuesday AM Group 11:00AM to 12:15PM
Tuesday, July 29th: Parents Group 3:45PM to 5:00PM
Tuesday, July 29th: Rescue/Recovery Workers Group 7:00PM to 8:00PM
Wednesday, July 30th: Firefighter Mothers Group 10:00AM to 11:00AM
9/11 Living Memorial Workshops
This week we hosted a workshop in Wethersfield, Connecticut that was featured on WFSB Channel 3 Eyewitness News. Our 9/11 Living Memorial Workshops are continuing throughout much of the summer. Upcoming workshops include one next week in Mill Neck, NY at a private location - if you would like to plan a workshop in your community, the VOICES team will be happy to come to you. Our next open workshop is at Suffield, CT on Tuesday, August 26th.
9/11 families, rescue workers and survivors are encouraged to attend the 9/11 Living Memorial workshops. Reservations can be made by contacting Michelle Doherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (203) 966-3911. In addition to workshops, individual appointments can be scheduled at our New Canaan, CT office. For more information on how to participate in the 9/11 Living Memorial project, contact our office or visit www.911livingmemorial.org.
Mill Neck, NY
Date: Monday, July 28th
Time: 2:00pm to 6:00pm - Private
Date: Tuesday, August 26th
Time: Noon to 6:00pm
Location: Kent Memorial Library, 50 North Main Street, Suffield, CT
Space limited - reservations required.
9/11 living memorial Feature
This week’s 9/11 Living Memorial feature celebrates the life and spirit of Danielle Kousoulis, a 29-year-old Vice President at Cantor Fitzgerald who participated in Cantor’s mentoring program, providing support and guidance to new employees.
Danielle’s caring spirit was evident in a note to her brother Peter that is included in her Living Memorial tribute pages. “Dear Peter, Hey. Just wanted to send you a little note telling you that I'm thinking about you and hope that everything is ok….. If you ever need to talk about anything, I'm here, ok? We all are. So take care and be happy. I love you.”
Danielle had planned on running in the Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run on September 16, 2001. Her number, 5494, was retired in her honor after Sept. 11, 2001.
Born in Haddon Township, N.J., Danielle was part of a close family with two sisters and one brother. Her passion for running started at Villanova University, during early morning conditioning runs with the crew team. She joined Cantor after graduating in 1993 and gained her MBA from NYU in 2000. Her friendships at Villanova led to the founding of the Danielle’s Spirit nonprofit by four of her friends from Villanova. The organization has awarded scholarships in each of the past three years to female student-athletes who share Danielle’s spirit. Danielle is also remembered through the Danielle Kousoulis Memorial Scholarship Fund.
events and INFORMATION FOR THE 9/11 COMMUNITY
Fly a Kite in Rememberance on September 7th
The Freedom Flight Staff and volunteers helping to organize this unique 9/11 Tribute, which involves large kites, art, singing and other activities to honor those who gave of themselves unselfishly, would like to invite you to a day of remembrance, hope and healing on September 7th, 2008 at Riverside Blvd., Long Beach, New York from 12pm – 4pm. The Sixth Annual Freedom Flight 9/11 is a way for all of US to honor those who survived, served their country, volunteered and those lost on 9-11 til present. Read More.
Connecticut Responds and Reflects
The Connecticut Historical Society is holding its traveling exhibit on September 11 from August 24 to September 28. The exhibit, which will travel every Fall until 2010, will be installed at the Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Association, 205 Bridge Street, CT. Visit the Connecticut Historical Society's website for more information.
In the News
Jury Selection in Guantanamo Bay Trial
The trial of Salim Hamdan, the first prisoner to face a US war-crimes trial since World War II, has begun, with selection of the six jury members complete and testimony under way. Hamdan, from Yemen, is denying of conspiracy and supporting terrorism, and faces life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors allege Hamdan, known as Bin Laden’s driver, was aware of the impending attacks on 9/11. Read More
9/11 Victims’ Families Can Visit WTC Site on Anniversary
The Port Authority announced that families will be able to return to ground zero for this year’s seventh anniversary memorial services. Families thought that last year’s ceremony was their last opportunity for several years to visit the site. Delays in the Port Authority’s rebuilding schedule are thought to be the reason for the decision. AP reports that a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg says the city will lead the nation in a day of remembrance that includes a ceremony at Zuccotti Park and access to the lower level for family members. Click here to read the full article.
Hearings on Implementing 9/11 Recommendations Look Ahead to Transition
The Committee on Homeland Security is holding a month long series of hearings that focus on laws implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. According to Congressional Quarterly, hearings during the week of July 15 stressed the need to meet statutory deadlines on some of the legislation before the transition to the new Presidential administration in January of 2009. The hearings focused on the retention of staff members in agencies to ease the Presidential transition, having a border security plan implemented and consolidating the Department of Homeland Security’s oversight and required action. Read more.