Public service advocate and 9/11 widow Cindy McGinty will kick off three days of service
It has been 10 years since terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania rocked the nation. In that time, Cindy McGinty, whose husband was killed while attending a meeting in the World Trade Center, has spent every moment she can working to transform the focus of September 11 from a national day of mourning to one of community building through service.
On Friday, September 9, she brought that message to Wheaton when she spoke during the college’s 9/11 Service of Remembrance.
McGinty is the co-founder of My Good Deed (the original inspiration for the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance) and co-founder of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, which supports survivors of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. She was a Foxboro, Mass., resident at the time of her husband’s death.
In 2009, President Barack Obama established the National Day of Service and Remembrance to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks, as well as the first responders, largely due to the advocacy and encouragement of loved ones like McGinty. Volunteers from all walks of life are encouraged to engage in service in all 50 states on September 11.
McGinty offered to speak at Wheaton a year ago after seeing a news article about the college’s participation in the National Day of Service, said Vereene Parnell, dean of the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility.
“She called us to thank us for helping to make her dream of turning 9/11 from a day of mourning and anger into a day of service and community. She offered at that time to come back and speak with our students, said Parnell. “This seemed like a perfect opportunity. Of course, being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, she had many obligations to juggle. We’re all happy it worked out.”
McGinty’s talk will kick off three days of service projects in Norton, Attleboro, Brockton and other neighboring communities. The effort will involve Wheaton students, faculty and staff working with 12 agencies, including five area Head Start facilities, Special Olympics, the Literacy Center/Attleboro Public Library, the ARC of Northern Bristol County, Crystal Spring Earth Learning Center. Partners in Norton include the Norton Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity, Parks and Recreation, Land Preservation Society, Nine Lives Cat Shelter, and the Norton Library Park.
The Wheaton Women's Basketball team will also hold a clinic for area youth, and Wheaton faculty and staff will participate in the college's neighborhood partnerships through the third annual food drive for Cupboard of Kindness.
The Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility coordinates a weekend of service each year, which has grown from 12 volunteers to an expected 200 student participants this year, thanks to the help of at least six First Year Seminars and many student organizations, including SEA (Service, Engagement and Activism) Board, Community Service Council, Best Buds, the campus Habitat chapter, Education Club, Wheaton Cheerleaders, the women’s basketball team, and the SGA executive board.
The public is welcome to attend the 12:30 p.m. non-sectarian service of remembrance, which will conclude with the collection of food donations for Cupboard of Kindness. Volunteers will head out to service projects by bus starting at 1 p.m.
Commemorating 9/11 with a day of service is important for the Wheaton Community and others for a variety of reasons, noted Parnell. “In the past, many of us have asked why it seems that we only really come together in community in response to a personal, natural or national disaster or tragedy. Cindy has given us an opportunity to do something constructive in response to that question.
“In addition to contributing to the overall health of our communities and giving students a chance to apply ideas and information learned in the classroom, I believe civic engagement shifts our focus from the relatively minor grievances that work our nerves on a daily basis to the values and sometimes unexpected relationships that give our lives meaning and purpose.”