A community church bell ringing, virtual military veterans and families support conference, youth service campaign and candlelight memorial service are among activities planned for Niagara County residents when they join volunteers across the U.S. in observing this year’s September 11 Day of Service and Remembrance.
The planned events are being coordinated by Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center with support from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency tasked with improving lives, strengthening communities and fostering civic engagement through service and volunteering.
The agency last year awarded the medical center a $31,500 grant to organize volunteers from across Niagara County to plan, promote and participate in September 11 Service and Remembrance activities.
“This effort has been a remarkable example of community collaboration,” said Sheila K. Kee, Memorial’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “A talented steering committee with representation from education, health care, government, business, religion, law enforcement, EMS and other fields has worked hard to put together programming that will support our nation’s military veterans, first responders and other area residents interested in community service.”
The observance will begin Aug. 31 with the launching of a virtual information campaign at 911dayniagara.org to provide an overview of programming, financial aid, introductions to tutoring services, and community-based educational support services available to Niagara County military veterans and their family members. Information will include summary offerings of the GI Bill and who to contact locally for more information.
A companion campaign called "Answering the Call to Respond" will detail information about starting a career as a first responder – police, fire or EMS – and the various channels throughout the county that can assist.
Information will be updated yearly through the creation and distribution of a Niagara County Veterans and Military Service Members Community Resource Manual. The booklet will be a valuable reference tool for connecting veterans and their families with social services, job training, educational opportunities, behavioral health, medical and other available services.
Aug. 31 will also mark the launch of the county’s "Get Involved" youth service campaign. On Sept. 1, Memorial will have a virtual menu of local nonprofit organizations and community service opportunities that will be posted at 911dayniagara.org. This resources will also be widely shared with local schools and youth-service agencies. Attesting to the importance of youth civic engagement, this portal will remain available on 911dayniagara.org as a year-round resource and updated at least monthly.
On the morning of Sept. 11, houses of worship across Niagara County will be asked to ring their church bells at 8:45, 9:03, 9:43 and 10 a.m. in remembrance of the attacks that were carried out by terrorists who hijacked commercial airliners on Sept. 11, 2001. Churches without bells will be asked to use audio equipment to produce the sound of bells that morning.
Also on Sept. 11, students from Niagara Falls High School will be conducting interviews of family, faculty, military and community leaders about the impact the 9/11 attacks made on their lives and career choices. The interviews will be compiled as a feature video presentation titled "Where Were You When?" that will be broadcast countywide on Spectrum cable TV by OSC Channel 21, Niagara Falls High School’s student channel.
On the evening of Sept. 11, Memorial Medical Center will host three programs in historic Schoellkopf Park. The first, a “1,980 Steps Challenge,” will be a fundraiser memorializing the 1,980 steps New York City firefighters climbed in their efforts to rescue people from the 110-story World Trade Center following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Funds raised will support local police, fire and EMS agencies.
At 7:30 p.m. Schoellkopf Park will be the site of a storytelling event featuring local community and military members along with government officials who will share their first-hand experiences from 9/11. This event will also feature a station for volunteers to sign-up through 911dayniagara.org.
Concluding the evening will be a 9 p.m. candlelight memorial service officiated by Day of Service and Remembrance Project advisory chairman, the Rev. Craig Pridgen.
For more information about these events, contact Michael Bevill at 716-278-4413 or email [email protected].