9/11 Service Project to Support Our Troops & Military Families

$25,000 Challenge Recipient

Introduction  

 The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is dedicated to providing support, programs and services to the families of military service personnel from Massachusetts who have died as a result of fighting terrorism in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The organization was launched in May of 2009 with the support of Senator Edward Kennedy and several local families who lost loved ones on September 11th in order to provide a central place where grieving families of all military branches could benefit from financial support, referrals, case management, advocacy and most importantly, public and private community building events.  These events have been invaluable in helping to alleviate the grief and isolation experienced by families after losing a loved one in a time of war, as well as by providing ways for our community to demonstrate respect and support for all lives lost to terrorism.  MMHF has been a leader in Massachusetts in recognizing the ties that bond local 9/11 and local military families.    

On September 11, 2011, MMHF will host its third annual 9/11 Service Project to Support Our Troops & Military Families.  This service project will ask our community to join us on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston building five hundred care packages for service men and women from Massachusetts deployed overseas.  In addition, we will ask the public to write letters to our troops and pledge support to the families of our fallen service members.  For two years in a row, MMHF’s 9/11 Service Project was designated a September 11th signature volunteer event in Massachusetts by the state’s chapter of the Corporation for National and Community Service and has been attended by both the Governor and Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth. 

This year, MMHF has invited Boston Cares, a local non-profit organization which specializes in volunteer projects, to work with us and enhance our 9/11 Service Project.  Boston Cares will work with other area organizations to create different volunteer opportunities next to our care package station on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and thus spread even further the message of service and remembrance on September 11th.    

Names of Organizations Involved

A full list of the organizations who have participated in previous years’ service projects is available upon request.  This year our partnerships include Boston Cares, the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, Massachusetts National Guard, local chapters of the Blue Star Mothers, Homes for Our Troops, John Hancock Financial, Marsh McLennan, the Office of Senator John Kerry and the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services.  

Community Need, Remembrance & Honor of Lives Lost to 9/11 and Terrorism 

 Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund took a leadership role in creating a local service project on 9/11 because two of its founders, Cindy McGinty and Christie Coombs, personally understood the need to  support the families who have lost loved ones to terrorism.  In the years following the deaths of their husbands on September 11th, Cindy and Christie worked hard to create legacies of altruism and volunteerism to honor their spirits.  They understood that projects bringing a community together in service and remembrance could be powerful healers of grief.  Cindy and Christie witnessed family after family in Massachusetts lose a service member to the various military operations fighting terrorism, and wanted those families to know that their sacrifices would be remembered and honored by them always.  Unfortunately, there was a lack of locally organized 9/11 volunteer projects focused on military families.  The MMHF care package assembly project on September 11th in Boston which began in 2009 created not just a space where families negatively impacted by terrorism could come together and find support, but a space where our community as a whole could positively influence those still putting themselves in harm’s way for our country.  For Cindy, Christie and the bereaved military families served by MMHF, this show of support and remembrance is the best way to honor their loved ones and is fast becoming a tradition in the community.   

The MMHF 9/11 Service Project always includes a call to remember & honor the lives lost to terrorism.  Volunteers participating in the care package assembly project are asked to attend at least one of the state’s official commemorative 9/11 services which take place in close proximity and just prior to the MMHF service project.  These commemorative services are planned and executed by MMHF’s  partner, The Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, and include a wreath laying ceremony, name reading ceremony and memorial service.  In addition, MMHF has invited a local artist to display her portraits of the Massachusetts service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan at the care package assembly project on the Greenway.  Also, Boston Cares is working with other local non-profits and organizations to install different art projects throughout the city designed to provoke reflection and remembrance of the lives lost on September 11th.   

The MMHF 9/11 Service Project is unique in our community, as it is the only organized volunteer project bringing together local 9/11 and local bereaved military families.    

Number of Expected Volunteers 

 We expect that the total number of volunteers who will have engaged in the MMHF 9/11 Service Project to Support Our Troops & Families will be about 500.  MMHF will track our volunteers by pre-registration and by a check-in table at our care package assembly tent.  

Volunteer Expectations  

By interacting with local 9/11 and local military families in a service project, volunteers will gain an appreciation for the importance of remembrance and honor for each of these groups, and, for younger volunteers, will gain an understanding of the heroism and volunteerism in the history of the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts.  This year, MMHF will include flyers about the history behind the designation of September 11th as a National Day of Service & Remembrance at our care package assembly station.   

Promotion 

 Our event has historically been promoted very successfully by: 

-social networking

-traditional public relations methods (press releases and press conferences) 

-partnerships with the Governor and Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, as well as the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund