Twenty years ago on September 11, 2001, I had just entered my first year of college and thought I was ready to face the world. With fellow New Yorkers and people around the globe, I watched unspeakable tragedy unfold. On that same day, I also witnessed people spring to action in service of our community in unbelievable ways that inspired me to a lifetime of working in support of our collective wellness.
On that day, my mom, a psychologist, was in Manhattan at her office with patients. As the attacks took place in front of her, my mother calmed me and my new friends in the dorm room down, searched desperately for my father as the phone lines to his Union Square office were shut off, and ensured my brother got home safely from high school. She made sure we were OK first, and then instead of coming home, she went to the Armory to offer mental health support to victims of one of the biggest tragedies her adopted country had ever experienced.
I’ve written about my mother before, but it didn’t become clear to me until recently that she is the one who gifted me with a deep sense of obligation to support others. She never told me to care for others, I just witnessed her in action, and September 11, 2001 was especially pivotal in showing me how urgent it is not to turn away even during the hardest of circumstances.
As we work through our feelings about today and the global crises that persist, I want to remind you (and myself) of a few truths: Your feelings are valid, you matter, you are needed, and you have the power – through your kind acts toward yourself and others – to support our collective ability to survive and thrive in the world.
Your kindness challenge today: Show up for your community today by donating your time, gently used items, food, dollars, or anything else you are able to safely give. Here are a few ideas from our friends at 911Day to get started.