Goodwill® Reflects on Spirit of Service Following September 11 Attacks

World Trade Center towersAll Americans remember where they were on September 11, 2001.  It was a sad and frightening day that left many of us feeling vulnerable and unsure of our safety as Americans.

Despite the shock and the sorrow, we refused to let the attacks weaken our great nation. We emerged from that day with a renewed commitment to one another, united with a common goal to help strengthen our communities and our country.

This weekend, we reflect on how the Goodwill enterprise rallied to support workers and employers in the wake of the tragedy, and how that spirit of service continues 10 years after the attacks.

Goodwill’s Response in New York

Goodwill's Family Learning Center in BrooklynImmediately following the news of the attacks and collapse of the World Trade Center, Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey made phone calls to ensure that all Goodwill staff and program participants were safe, including individuals with disabilities and the 375 individuals employed through its GoodTemps division in the financial district near the World Trade Center. One Goodwill client, Steven Wong, and an advisory board member lost their lives in the attack.

As relief agencies worked to provide survivors with basic medical care and needs, Goodwill set its sights on assisting the nearly 130,000 displaced workers and the more than 18,000 businesses that were dislocated, disrupted or destroyed due to the attacks.  

In October 2001, the New York-based Goodwill offered its newly opened Goodwill Family Learning Center with classrooms, a computer lab and children’s room, as a drop-in center in Brooklyn for the victims of September 11. The facility, temporarily renamed the Brooklyn Twin Towers Job Link Center, served an average of 80 job seekers per day in the months following the tragedy.

Twin Towers Job Fair (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

During the same month, Goodwill helped the city of New York coordinate the first Twin Towers Job Fair. Staff members from Goodwill Industries International travelled to New York City to volunteer at the October 17 event, which included 200 area employers and attracted more than 10,000 residents in need of work. Goodwill hired one of the first people hired that day – a computer skills instructor – and continued to assist the city with subsequent job fairs in the following week.

To support businesses as they recovered from the attacks, the New York-based Goodwill worked with other local agencies to establish a business assistance center for small- and medium-sized businesses affected by the 9/11 or the economy. The center helped businesses obtain public and private assistance, find a new location if needed and be connected with volunteer consultants. It also facilitated the donation, warehousing and distribution of business supplies, equipment and furniture to businesses in need.

Goodwill’s National Response

On a national level, the Goodwill enterprise launched the “Back to Work” campaign to raise money for the New York Goodwill and make it possible for the agency to provide assistance to those who had been affected by the tragedy. Through the contributions of individuals and organizations, the campaign raised more than $150,000 in support of Goodwill’s employment-assistance efforts in the New York City area.

In addition to supporting the national effort, many local Goodwill agencies worked to provide services to people in their communities impacted by the tragedy. For example, Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana partnered with the Indianapolis Private Industry Council (IPIC) and the City of Indianapolis to launch the Airline Industry Recareerment (AIR) Project to help the more than 2,300 unemployed airline employees train for new careers after losing their jobs due to airline cutbacks following the September 11 attacks.

Ten Years Later: The Spirit of Service Continues

Goodwill volunteer helps youth.While time often heals our wounds, we hope that Americans will take time this weekend to remember those who perished on September 11, 2001, and the brave sacrifices our country’s service members have made since that time.

This weekend, Goodwill agencies across the country who are involved in the AmeriCorps program will participate in a national pledge of service in remembrance of September 11. The mission of this call to action is to provide a positive and forward-looking way for Americans and others to forever honor and remember the 9/11 victims, survivors and the many that rose in service in response to the 9/11 tragedy, including first responders, recovery workers, volunteers,

We extend our sincere thanks to our nation’s volunteers — both those who serve Goodwill and those who help other community-based organizations fulfill their missions. Whether volunteering to meet needs during times of crisis or to help with ongoing social problems and create better communities, Americans coming together to do good have formed the foundation of our nation and they make our country strong.