When the first plane flew into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, time seemed to stop. As a nation, we held our breath at the horror of what we were witnessing.
What followed was days, weeks, and months of confusion and heartache as the U.S. figured out how to move forward. People from around the world stepped in to help, including Convoy of Hope.
At the time, Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team was brand new. We’d responded to a few smaller hurricanes, but nothing with the impact we saw after the September 11 attacks. Regardless, Convoy of Hope’s first truckload of relief supplies left the World Distribution Center for the East Coast within 24 hours of the attack.
When we arrived, we found a city in shock.
“There were probably three weeks where you could hear a pin drop in New York City,” a former Convoy of Hope team member said. “I’ve never seen the city that way before or since.”
Our immediate response focused on assisting emergency workers at Ground Zero and the Pentagon. In New York, Convoy of Hope assisted a Staten Island respite center that supported more than 400 firefighters, rescue workers, and national guardsmen for four months. We also provided hot meals, supplies, shower facilities, and beds for those working long shifts at Ground Zero. It was a haven of peace, order, and love for the men and women facing indescribable scenes day after day.
In the long term, we partnered with several key groups in New York to plan what we called “Encouragement Events” — both large and small gatherings that focused on rescue workers and families who lost loved ones. We also wanted to bring hope to the average New Yorker still struggling with what happened, but wouldn’t be included on an official list of fatalities. The need for massive counseling and peer support systems was clear.
Thankfully, because of the connections Convoy made during that chaotic time, we’ve served the New York area in many ways, including our response after Superstorm Sandy and through Hope Days.
September 11, 2001, was a defining moment in Convoy’s 25 years that has shaped us into the organization we are today. That dark time taught us that even in the worst of times, hope, compassion, and kindness can still make all the difference.