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September 9, 2016

9/11 Day of Service creates space for reflection

Working for an organization that is all about change can seem a bit contradictory to human nature. Human beings tend to be drawn to stability, to things we can count on to be there when we come back. In many ways, I have to fight the instinct for sameness, that desire for something to hold onto, because it is so important to make huge shifts in the way our society is structured and treats its members. The big change Reading Partners strives for is a seismic shift in the options available to kids by providing them with literacy support and attention.

Tragedy and loss, which so often seem senseless and lack explanation, represent some of the most difficult and disruptive kinds of change we can experience. These events can be moments of cultural shock, shared grief, and sometimes even of awakening.

This is part of why each year AmeriCorps members spend their time on 9/11 participating in a Day of Service. The projects can vary from spending time bagging fruit at a food bank to working on an urban farm to cleaning up a local library. But the purpose is the same: to remember those we lost and honor the hope for big changes—which AmeriCorps and Reading Partners cherish. Because that hope is there, right next to the heartbreak.

AmeriCorps members working for Reading Partners come from all walks and are experiencing various life stages. Some were quite young when 9/11 happened; some were living in distant places. The degree to which that day looms in our memories is difficult to capture or describe, as it is also shaped by collective memory. Yet, we have all chosen to serve a year and are united by certain ideals.

“Being born and raised in NYC, I witnessed the 9/11 clean-up efforts first hand. The sense of community and seeing everyone coming together despite cultural, economic, and social differences was extremely inspiring. Even at such a young age, I saw the value of people rallying together for a common goal and how big of an impact community members (and volunteers) had in bringing NY back.”

–Krystal Cabrera, VISTA Partnerships and Alumni Coordinator

“Witnessing the altruism of volunteers and rescuers on 9/11 inspired my path to service. I was especially moved by the rescuers who entered the towers as they were falling to help those inside and the heroic efforts of the passengers on United Flight 93. These events motivated me to demonstrate altruism in my own life by volunteering in my community and pursuing a career in the mission-driven sector.”

–Shelby Lemons, National Development Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA

Reading Partners is determined to empower young minds and nurture positive changes, and in a world that is sometimes resistant to transitions, it is worth remembering the unexpected, the goodness, and courage that endures in the everyday humans around us even in tragic circumstances.

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