Soot, debris, and, dust filled the lungs of hundreds of Americans as they rushed down the streets surrounding the World Trade Centers on September 11th, 2001. It would take days for the cloud of soot and dust to settle around the 40-acre site (which has come to be known as Ground Zero) and 8 months & 19 days to clean-up the debris from the terrorist attack that took over 1,000 American lives. On September 11th, as well as the days, weeks, and, months to come, Americans came together to dig through the debris, to sweep the soot away, and, help to rebuild the grief stricken community surrounding Ground Zero. In an effort to remember, and honor all those who came together for their community, the nonprofit, 9/11 Day, decided to turn the memory of a tragic event into a good one by asking Americans to serve their communities on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In 2009, 8 years after the attacks, Congress, under bipartisan federal law, designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. 15 years after the attacks, 9/11 Day, in partnership with the Corporation for National Community Service, have come together to help organize and coordinate yearly Day of Service projects across the nation; one such project took place in the Tucson Community, thanks to a hand full of dedicated and passionate organizations.
Serve Tucson, an organization that helps to coordinate and plan various clean up projects around Tucson, joined forces with a University of Arizona Fraternity and Arizona Serve to organize a community clean up that surrounded 3 local public schools. Pueblo Magnet High School, along with CE Rose PreK-8 School, and, Charles Hollinger K-8 School, came together to clean-up, and strengthen their surrounding communities. With various sponsors, whom helped to provide both food and supplies, over 250 community members came together to complete a total of 30 projects on the 9/11 Day of Service. Projects included: landscaping (both on and off of all 3 campuses), painting murals, repainting handrails and doors in the schools, and, weeding gardens.
The services that were provided on the Day of Service in Tucson were greatly appreciated by schools, students and community members. By taking the time to serve, in remembrance of the service of others on September 11th, 2001, each and every one of the 250 volunteers was helping to build, and strengthen, the Tucson Community. Building community is a vital part of my position as a Community School Coordinator; it is also the reason why I’ve chosen to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I, as VISTA, and a person, firmly believe in the power of a strong community. I also believe, and know from my experience helping to organize a 9/11 Day of Service, that remembering how a community was able to come together, in a time of pain, shock, and, desolation, can help to change and build communities across America.