January 12, 2009
Dear Families and Friends,
Happy New Year to you and your family from all of us at VOICES! We hope you had a wonderful holiday and look forward to our work together in 2009. Over the holidays I had an opportunity to reflect about our key accomplishments in 2008, which I would like to share with you.
Last year we were honored to meet with hundreds of 9/11 families as they participated in our 9/11 Living Memorial Project workshops in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and other locations. Our staff provided families with individual support and guidance as they participated in the healing process of creating a meaningful tribute to their loved ones. In addition, we continued to advocate for implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Our efforts included supporting national campaigns - to promote September as Preparedness Month and educate the public about the February 2009 digital transition that will free up critical radio spectrum so first responders can communicate during an emergency.
We remained committed in 2008 to our core mission of providing programs that address the ongoing needs of the 9/11 community - through our weekly e-newsletter, facilitating weekly teleconference support groups, providing mental health programs and hosting special events. In May we held our first fundraising Gala, hosted by our friend, NBC Nightly News Brian Williams. Former Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and ESPN's Chris Berman were our special guests. In partnership with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum we hosted our seventh annual September 10th Information Forum and September 11th Commemorative Luncheon in New York City. President Bill Clinton, Governor George Pataki and Governor David Patterson were among our honored guests during the two day event.
As we look ahead to 2009, VOICES is one of the few remaining organizations which supports the needs of the 9/11 community. Our goals for the coming year are ambitious - to broaden our outreach for the 9/11 Living Memorial Project; to promote the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and WMD Commission and expand our support of the 9/11 community nationally and internationally. A recent development in 2009 is our partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). VOICES efforts to create the 9/11 Living Memorial Project is the spotlight feature this month on the CGI website. Our partnership formalizes VOICES' commitment over the next three years - to profile each victim of the attacks and broaden our outreach at home and abroad.
How can you help support our efforts in 2009? During this challenging and unpredictable economic time, the financial support of our membership is more important than ever. If you haven't already done so, please consider making a personal contribution to support our programs. Donations can be made online or by mail to Voices of September 11th, 161 Cherry Street, New Canaan, CT 06840. In today's newsletter we are highlighting the heartwarming efforts of Jillian Rossi, a remarkable young woman from Easton, PA who raised almost $800. We are indebted to Jillian for her generosity and support for our work.
All of us at VOICES extend our best wishes for 2009 and our sincere thanks to those who have supported our annual appeal. We welcome your involvement in our 2009 fundraising campaign to support the 9/11 Living Memorial Project, along with any suggestions on individuals, foundations or corporations who may be interested in sponsoring our programs in the coming year.
Mary and the Voices Staff
VOICES Programs and events
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop Schedule
VOICES is putting together its workshop schedule for 2009. If you would like us to come to your neighborhood, please contact us so we can consider including it in our schedule for the coming year. For more information, or to register for the workshops below, contact Michelle Doherty at VOICES of September 11th, (203) 966-3911 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also schedule an individual Living Memorial appointment at our Connecticut office.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Date: Tuesday, January 27th
Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm
Location: New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), 120 Albany Street, Tower 1, 7th Floor, New Brunswick, New Jersey
KBW, New York
Date: Thursday, January 29th for KBW families
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 787 7th Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY
VOICES, New Canaan
Date: Friday, February 6th
Time: 10:00am to 3:00pm by Appointment
Location: Voices of September 11th, 161 Cherry Street, Second Floor, New Canaan, CT
KBW, New York
Date: Thursday, February 12th for KBW families
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 787 7th Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, NY
Manhasset, New York
Date: Tuesday, February 17th
Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm by Appointment
Location: Manhasset Public Library, 30 Onderdonk Avenue, Manhasset, NY 11030
Voices of September 11th offers teleconference groups that are facilitated by our mental health professionals. The teleconference groups provide an opportunity for those impacted by 9/11 to talk with others that share their same experience. Please contact our office at (203) 966-3911 if you are interested in participating.
Tuesday, January 13th: Parents AM Group 11:00am to 12:15pm
Thursday, January 15th: Siblings PM Group 3:00pm to 4:00pm
events and INFORMATION FOR THE 9/11 COMMUNITY
Innovative Fundraiser Benefits VOICES' Annual Appeal
Jillian Rossi is a remarkable teenager. A senior at Lehigh Valley Charter High School, Jillian organized a fundraiser for VOICES of September 11th that raised nearly $800. It all began on September 11th, 2001, when Jillian realized that her beloved cousin might be at the World Trade Center. She and her family will never forget the panic they experienced. Fortunately, he was discovered safe and sound, but Jillian was so frightened and moved, she felt enormous sympathy for all those who were lost, and all those who loved them. Her heart is still with them, and New York.
She remained true to her dedication when the time came to conduct her graduation project. At first she thought about having a school assembly, but she very quickly realized raising funds for victims’ families would be more productive. After investigating various organizations, Jillian selected VOICES, and we are very grateful she did. A singer herself, Jillian enlisted the entertainment talent of Lehigh Valley Charter High School alum Kristen Morgenstern, another great singer, as well as local DJ Brian McKay and country artist Buddy B. She promoted the event on the radio, in church bulletins, and through word of mouth. The event was a huge success—sold out, with over 130 guests filling the hall.
In addition to the entertainment, an opening prayer was offered by Monsignor Edward Zemanik. The Mayor of Easton, Sal Panto, presented Jillian with a well-deserved commendation. As Mayor Panto said, and as Jillian firmly believes, we must never forget the people whose lives were lost that day. It’s easy to push these painful thoughts aside as time goes by, but the memories are important to preserve, to honor the victims and to try as best we can to prevent future disasters.
In the News
Reality TV Showcases Homeland Security
ABC has begun airing a new reality series entitled “Homeland Security USA.” The program follows border patrol and customs officials as they engage in their duties, and is prescreened by the Department of Homeland Security. Critics have concerns the program may provide an unbalanced picture of the state of homeland security, focusing on the strengths of the system, but not the weaknesses. Learn more at: The NY Times and National Public Radio.
Judge’s Order May Limit Public’s Access to Key Guantanamo Trial
Military Judge Stephen R. Henley has signed a protective order that may prevent the public from learning much about the Guantanamo Bay trial of 5 men (including Khalid Sheik Mohammed) accused of planning the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. The order, designed to protect classified information, is extremely broad, and therefore likely to limit public scrutiny of the trial. Some human rights groups are concerned the order may affect the openness of trials in the future. The judge may be willing to modify the order and has asked for briefs on the issue by counsel in the case. Read more in the Washington Post. The alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is now on trial in France, along with two other men, for the 2002 suicide bombing of a Tunisian synagogue. Mohammed, who is being tried in absentia since he is currently imprisoned by the US government at Guantanamo Bay, is accused of commanding and financing the bombing. Read more at GlobalSecurity.org.
Cast Your Vote for September 11 as National Day of Service
My Good Deed, an organization devoted to encouraging good deeds in honor of 9/11 victims and heroes, is hoping September 11th will become a National Day of Service. Toward this end, they are asking people to cast their vote for this idea at President-elect Obama’s transition website, Change.gov. For more information, visit www.mygooddeed.org.
September 11th Memorial May Be Ready in Time for Anniversary
The September 11th Memorial may be open in time for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, according to Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the National September 11th Memorial & Museum, the nonprofit that is leading the project. However, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns the site, is not as optimistic. 9/11 families have advocated along with the NS11MM for a 10th anniversary opening of the memorial. Read more at Crain’s New York.
Transition to Digital TV Causing Confusion
There have been many stories in the newspapers in recent days about the possibility of delaying the planned February 17, 2009 transition to digital television. Although a majority of Americans know the transition to digital TV is scheduled to take place, many are confused by the details, and mistaken in their understanding of what they need to do. VOICES advocated for this transition, which is among the vital recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, and will improve government communications during an emergency. Well-functioning communications systems are essential to our safety during an emergency and have become a focus of VOICES’ advocacy efforts. We therefore ask you to ensure your household is ready to make the transition. If your household is among the estimated 19 million households with 44 million non-digital television sets, you will have to take action to keep watching. Here is what you need to do:
• If you get TV from a cable, satellite or telephone company, your provider should handle the conversion for you.
• If not, check your television set for labels such as "DTV," "ATSC" or any indication that your set has digital reception. If your TV is less than 10 years old, it may be equipped for digital reception. If you bought your TV after March 1, 2007, you don’t need to worry.
• If you have an analog set and don't want to buy a new one, you can buy a converter box to translate the digital signal back to analog. The converter box costs between $50 and $70 and should be widely available where TVs are sold. The good news is that with the converter box, your picture will improve significantly. And the government is making up to two $40 coupons available per household for those who need help to buy the converter boxes. To find out more about the coupons, call 888-388-2009 or go to the the Government's DTV website. Additional information on the transition is available at DTV.
Charges Filed in Deutsche Bank Tower Fire
John Galt Corp. and three of its supervisors have been indicted on manslaughter and other charges in connection with the deaths of two firefighters who died in 2007 trying to extinguish the blaze at the Deutsche Bank building in lower Manhattan. Prosecutors have also reached an agreement with the City of New York to implement new fire safety measures. Read more: The New York Times and CNN.
Flight 93 Families ask President Bush to help Secure Site for 9/11 Memorial
The advocacy organization Families of Flight 93 has asked President Bush for his help in securing the land needed for a memorial to their loved ones, who died when their plane, hijacked by terrorists on 9/11, crashed in Shanksville, PA. The crash site is considered sacred ground, since many of the victims’ remains were never recovered; even today, without a formal memorial, 140,000 people visit the grounds every year. President Bush has called Flight 93 "the first victory" in the war on terrorism, since passengers on the doomed flight did all they could to prevent additional tragedy. However, issues regarding the land have been bogged down in red tape. For more information, visit the Washington Post.