Jersey Cares September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance

As a leader in the movement to preserve September 11th as a day of service and remembrance, Jersey Cares will engage over 1,000 volunteers in service projects to improve their communities and state. Between September 8th and 12th, Jersey Cares will manage over 35 projects across New Jersey. These volunteer projects will include painting patriotic murals, planting memorial gardens and leading community understanding discussions. Additionally, many volunteer opportunities will place a special focus on active service members, military families and veterans. With these projects, volunteers will demonstrate that the actions of September 11th which were designed to foster division and animosity, have instead brought unity and stronger communities in New Jersey and throughout the United States.

At our signature site, 300 volunteers will unite in service at The New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home. They will work to improve the building and its grounds and meaningfully engage with residents, demonstrating that Americans remember and honor their sacrifices. Volunteers will have many service options to showcase their individual interests and talents. The centerpiece will be the creation of a new, serene outdoor area for residents to relax and reflect. The space will feature a butterfly garden symbolizing the rebirth and transformation of America on September 11th 2001.

To engage younger volunteers, Jersey Cares will offer many exciting service opportunities, including baking cupcakes, participating in sing-alongs with veterans and creating a variety of crafts, including American flag pins, which will be donated to military families.

Additionally, at the Menlo Park Veterans Home, volunteers will build benches and bocce ball courts, leaving the facility with areas for residents to gather and building a sense of community. Other volunteers will build and paint 3-D murals to attract and engage veterans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, some volunteers will connect with our country’s veterans one-on-one to create Life Story Memoirs capturing the veterans’ experiences.

There will also be 35 other service projects led by Jersey Cares between September 8th and 12th. At several of these projects, volunteers will spend time socializing and playing Bingo with isolated seniors. At others, volunteers will also create crafts such as Welcome Home posters for A Hero’s Welcome, a nonprofit that coordinates celebrations for military arrivals and assemble care packages for troops overseas. September 11th themed canvas murals will be painted to enliven nonprofit agencies that support veterans and military families. These are only a small selection of the projects that Jersey Cares will be leading during these four days, but what all of the service projects have in common is that they represent individuals joining together to strengthen their communities—an inspiring repudiation of the actions of September 11th.

Several elements must be accomplished for an event of this scale to be successful. Recruitment of the 1,000 volunteers is among these essential components. Jersey Cares will launch a website for online registration, send mass emails to our volunteer database, post news about the day on our website, utilize social media outlets, highlight the event in our monthly newsletter and contact all civic and corporate team leaders from prior annual events. Additionally, we will work to reach out to local print and televised media companies to attract increased coverage of the event. Finally, Jersey Cares staff and AmeriCorps volunteers will reach out to local universities, schools, community service groups, corporations and religious organizations to recruit volunteer teams.

The volunteer projects will commemorate the events of September 11th in several ways. First, the introduction delivered to the volunteers by the leader of each site will emphasize the national focus and mission of the day and that the service is a tribute to those who perished on September 11, 2001. Second, at many of the sites one of the projects will be the creation of a memorial garden that will remain as a place of remembrance. Finally, projects and events are designed to spark conversations about the meaning of service in relation to September 11th.

To record volunteer registrations, Jersey Cares will use the HandsOn Connect database. The system allows volunteers to submit personal data and register online for the project or projects of their choice. The Jersey Cares staff member or volunteer leader managing each location will check off all volunteers’ names from the master registration list as they arrive. Finally, any volunteer who did not pre-register will complete registration forms on-site and the information will be added to the HandsOn Connect database.

On the September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance, Jersey Cares will have coordinated projects at the following agencies: The New Jersey Veterans Memorial Homes of Paramus and Menlo Park, the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi, The Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, Youth Consultation Service—Davis House, The Ironbound Community Corporation, The Valley Settlement House, New Hope Village, Broadway Elementary School, The Jubilee Center, The Hoboken Shelter, St. Lucy’s Homeless Program, Liberty State Park, Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation, The Alfred E. Zampella School, John O. Wilson Neighborhood Center, The Crisis Room at Aldersgate, Camp Oakhurst, The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Homeless Solutions, Morris County Youth Shelter, Care One at Madison Avenue, Ocean Community Economic Action Now, New Hope Community Ministries, The Passaic County Women’s Shelter, The Midland School, The Somerset Home for Temporary or Displaced Children, Operation Shoebox, The Veterans Administration of New Jersey Healthcare System, Runnells Specialized Hospital, Frederic Cook Elementary and Jefferson Elementary School. Additionally, Bonds of Courage, A Hero’s Welcome, Home Front Hearts and Operation: Military Kids will be receiving donations that will be created or organized at other project locations.

All of the sites and projects that Jersey Cares will be managing are designed to meet critical community needs that would otherwise be left unmet because of lack of leadership, resources or labor. Jersey Cares’ September 11th Day of Service strives to answer the call of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act by bringing New Jerseyans together in service to honor September 11th fostering unity and understanding in the wake of the intentions of that day’s events.