9/11 Brought me to the Red Cross

I’m a Jersey girl, grew up in Jersey City with a view of New York City from the park down the street from my family’s home.  Family and friends either helped build, worked at or were part of the rescue and clean-up at the World Trade Center.  I even attended the very first gala in the beautiful Windows of the World.

I was busy packing for my move to Philadelphia from New Hampshire which would take place on September 14th, Friday, but first there was Tuesday. There were lots of phone calls and sadness that Tuesday.  I still was making my move on Friday and I remember the car ride was fast until we reached the Tappan Zee Bridge, then it seemed like time stopped.  Down the Hudson was a dark cloud of smoke just laying over New York.  The scene was chilling and to this day the memory is crystal clear with all the emotions I felt that day.

I remember asking God what can I do.

After getting settled in Philadelphia, I visited  family and friends of those lost or injured.  I then went to a temp work agency seeking employment.  The agent said they had a temporary assignment at the American Red Cross helping with processing after 9/11.  I looked up and said “I got the message” and when I reported for the assignment I told everyone that would listen that I was not leaving at the end of the assignment.

During the days following 9/11, I did more than I could imagine at SEPA Chapter. So much more than answering phones and recording data.  I spent some early mornings collecting money in front of City Hall and I remember the cabbies stopping and donating their tips from the night before.  I went to lunch rooms in office buildings in the counties surrounding Philadelphia to leave materials and collect not only donations but names of new volunteers, (everyone wanted to help in some way). While walking to and from SEPA Chapter wearing Red Cross gear, I remember people in their cars would beep their horns and yell thank you or want to give you a donation. Just seeing my coat was enough.

Now, eleven years later, family and friends are still recovering from the mental and physical scars of that Tuesday.  Me, I’m still at the Red Cross.

-Cathy Castrovilly
is a full time executive assistant to the Chief Development Officer at the American Red Cross of Southeastern PA. She never did leave after her temp position ended.

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