Updated, 6:30 p.m.
Irvington resident Tony Russo, owner of Aries Wine & Spirits in White Plains, was pleased to see an event where people could find out about volunteer organizations that they may never have knew of otherwise in a pressure-free setting.
“I know some people at the Volunteer Center and there are always new groups that need help,” said Russo.
Updated, 6:13 p.m.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and his two sons stopped by the Westchester County Center Friday to make cards for active duty soldiers, as well as veterans and those who are sick or injured.
Adam Getis, IT manager for Cross Cultural Solutions based out of New Rochelle, said the event brings back that feeling people had right after 9/11 — of working together and having a common purpose to somehow make a difference.
“It brings back all kinds of memories,” he said of the approaching 9/11 anniversary. “I was working in the city at the time. It was such a big impact that you could see it from everywhere. It’s difficult. It’s hard to imagine it’s been 10 years.”
Mary Jane Schaumann, a volunteer coordinator for Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester, said she was happy to see the young people who come to the event searching for something to do and give back.
“That’s honoring 9/11,” she said.
Updated, 6 p.m.
Valhalla residents Jerry and Joan Bucci have been involved in community service and volunteer work over the years, but Jerry had not given back in a while and was “beginning to feel the pull.” Joan has been volunteering at a nursing home and was here to help Jerry find his perfect fit.
A recent retiree and highly qualified volunteer, Jerry came to the fair in search of an opportunity where he could use his doctorate in education or musical skills. Within minutes of arriving at Friday’s “Serve and Learn: Westchester Remembers” volunteerism event he found United Way’s Working with Westchester Library systems to help teach GED classes.
“I think it is a good idea to bring all these organization together,” Jerry said as he went off to peruse more opportunities.
Renee Anderson, a mental health worker from White Plains, was here looking for a way to spend evenings giving back.
“I do work during the day but I am free at night and that is why I am here,” Anderson said.
“It is wonderful to bring so many (volunteer organizations) together and giving back to those who really need it.”
Original story, 3:30 p.m.
As a group of officials prepped for a press conference outside the Westchester County Center this afternoon, Tunisha and Tariq Thomas of Peekskill were a hundred feet away doing some checking of their own.
The mother-son pair were helping process a growing stack of non-perishable food for the Montrose VA Food Pantry, checking expiration dates and handing off soup cans to Javier Betances and Ivan Fuentes of Shlepper’s Movers who would drive it all north.
It was an apt backdrop for why everyone was here — to kick off “Serve and Learn: Westchester Remembers,” a day of service in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Local residents can connect with more than 100 local non-profits in need of volunteers. It runs from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. today with free entrance and parking.
Patch will be bringing the stories of those seeking volunteers and those motivated to turn a time of national mourning and remembrance into something positive for their community.
“It’s about taking something evil and horrible and letting humanity shine through,” said County Executive Rob Astorino.
Alisa Kesten, the executive director of The Volunteer Center of United Way, whose team organized the event, acknowledged that no single act of volunteerism could ever bring back any of the lives lost that day.
But everyone can answer the call from victims’ families to honor the 9/11 anniversary by filling their community with good deeds — turning an “I will never forget,” Kesten said, into “I will help my neighbor.”
Chairman of the County Legislature, Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, said it was so important to recognize the service each organization gathered at the center today gives to local residents. “They do it at such a cost-effect level and they do it for love.”
Inside the center, Gil Weinstein, who was on the 88th floor of Tower One when the planes hit, came to support his many local volunteer commitments and will give a talk at a Rye synagogue tonight about his experiences on 9/11.
“I survived that day for a very important reason — so I could give my time volunteering,” he said. “It helps justify my survival.”