Recently, the New York-based One Day's Pay organization launched a $500,000 regional campaign called "NYC Remembers." The nonprofit group, founded prior to the first anniversary of the 2001 attacks, hopes to bring together the region in a spirit of voluntary charitable service on Sept. 11.
"Our ultimate goal is to help redefine the day so that future generations remember that 9/11 was about a lot more than the fear and destruction inflicted by terrorists; it was also about the bravery, selflessness and unity of people coming together in a time of great tragedy and need," said David Paine, president.
Their web site (www.onedayspay.org) provides a "one-stop-shop" in the form of links to many volunteer and giving opportunities through nonprofit partners, including New York Cares, the Mayor's Volunteer Center and the United Way. The site also invites visitors to voluntarily "pledge" to observe 9/11 as a day of service - the group has a goal of generating at least two million pledges this year.
Here in Hudson County, there are also many group and organizations that also want to recognize 9/11 as day of service, charity and compassion. Below are also agencies that can always use volunteers and donations.
Local Synagogue to hold 'Mitzvah Day'
Four years after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Hoboken and its residents are preparing a number of service-oriented events. One of the more ambitious is by the United Synagogue of Hoboken, which will hold its first "Mitzvah Day" on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Inspired by Mitzvah Day's perennial theme, Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, the community service day has been created to encourage the congregants to go out into the community to make a difference in the lives of others.
The event will be a chance for the United Synagogue Community, adults and children of all ages, to participate in of 14 different community service projects around the area.
Activities will include delivering meals to seniors, sending cards to soldiers in Iraq, tutoring in literacy and English as a Second Language, providing assistance at the local shelters, cleaning up a local park, working with Habitat for Humanity to construct affordable housing, and creating artwork for hospital patients.
Jake Stuiver, who is the social-action chair at the synagogue, said that at first, scheduling Mitzvah Day on Sept. 11, was just coincidence, but now it makes sense.
"It meaningful day when people turn their attention to greater community," Stuiver said. He added that it's their hope that by getting locals to volunteer this one day, they will be more willing to volunteer later and more often.
"We really don't look at this as a one-day event, but hoping that people that haven't been that involved in service might be energized to give more of their time in the future," he said.
Mitzvah Day will conclude with a 9/11 commemoration ceremony at 5 p.m. at the synagogue at 115 Park Ave. For more information call (201) 659-4000 or go to www.hobokensynagogue.org. But that is just one local group that is doing their part. Here are some other charitable groups that are always looking for help.
Serve a meal at a shelter
The Hoboken Homeless Shelter at 300 Bloomfield St. serves over 27,000 meals a year and has 30 beds, which are full most nights. The shelter is always looking for volunteers to maintain the facilities and aid in the serving of meals from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is also accepting contributions of money, clothes, toiletries, and food left over from parties and entertainment functions. For more information on how to help, contact Sister Norberta Hunnewinkel at (201) 656-5069.
Another nearby shelter is St. Lucy's Shelter, at 619 Grove St. in Jersey City. St. Lucy's is a supervised 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, year-'round emergency shelter facility for single women and men, offering emergency housing and food for those in need. Individuals are offered a 45-day stay. For more information on how to volunteer, call (201) 656-7201.
A third shelter is the Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC), formerly St. John's Shelter, at 108 36th St. In Union City. The co-ed facility has 40 beds available nightly at (201) 348-8150.
Be a hospice volunteer
One form of volunteerism that involves very personal emotional investment, but can also be the most rewarding, is being a hospice counselor. A hospice is an environment designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain management.
The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of a patient's last days by offering comfort and dignity.
Volunteer roles might include companionship for the patients, emotional support for patient and family, errands, telephone reassurance, and transportation. The patients are often cared for in their own homes.
Although the training takes place in Jersey City, volunteering is done throughout Hudson County. Volunteer hours are flexible, according to the needs of the patient/family and the availability of the volunteer. For an application and further information, call (201) 433-3303.
Mentor a local youth
The local schools and youth organizations present another excellent opportunity to give back to the community's youngest residents. The Hoboken and Jersey City Boys and Girls clubs are always looking for volunteers to spend their time as a mentor or role model.
Whether you have an interest in athletics, technology, the arts or any other programming skills, the Boys and Girls clubs always room for more volunteers. For more information on how to be a mentor call (201) 333-4100.
In the days immediately following 9/11, local blood banks were full of people giving blood, but as time passed, the national need has remained. Yet, the number of people giving blood on a regular basis has declined.
People who weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health are eligible to donate. The first step is to call the nearest blood center at (888) USBLOOD or (800) GIVE LIFE to find the nearest blood center and schedule an appointment. During the appointment you will be asked general health and lifestyle questions in a private setting while a medical professional takes your vital signs.
Donors must meet guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration. If qualified, the entire process of giving blood will take six to eight minutes. For more information, visit http://www.americasblood.org.
Donate to the Salvation Army or United Way
Two organizations that supplied aid to the families of 9/11 victims and residents throughout the Tri-State area in the days following the tragic attacks were the Salvation Army and United Way. The Salvation Army continues to serve those in need through its corps community centers in New Jersey, New York and around the country. Primary services include financial aid to victims' families and others whose livelihoods were affected, and continued counseling for a variety of workers involved in the disaster's aftermath and cleanup.
To give a tax deductible donation, call (201) 653-3071 or visit the Hudson County stores at 248 Erie St. in Jersey City or 515 43rd St. in Union City.
The United Way of Hudson County is a community-based organization that funds health and human care services. For every dollar raised, 89 cents of that dollar goes to help people in need, according to United Way officials. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (201) 434-2628.