On Sept. 11, 2001, SACSS was a year old, and we had just launched a survey to understand what our community needed. But in the blink of an eye, our focus turned to what was most pressing: the needs of the 46 families that we worked with. All of them had lost someone they loved. I shared a few of their stories in the Asian American Literary Review’s special issue commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Today I share with you two things: first, the Book of Memories that we released a year after the attacks, with short tributes to some of the South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans victims. At the time, this book was a way to capture an essential sense of the person who was no more, through the eyes of the people who knew and loved them.
Twenty years later, this book is also a record of community members coming together. The tributes were collected and written up by volunteers who responded within 24 hours of the call going out, and the project was completed within a week – two small indicators of the caring and empathy of a community.
Second, this community has continued this care these 20 years. Family members from the group we brought together in New Jersey for group therapy sessions formed a close bond and they are in touch to this day.
SACSS itself is a sign of a community growing together. As a result of the needs of 9/11, we launched our counseling work – individual and group. That work continues.
In 2016, in response to the food insecurity we were witnessing, we launched the food pantry.
As a result of Covid, we are expanding it weekly. And our new community center that will open in the fall has become possible in no small part thanks to the generous contributions of community members.
Over the last 20 years, family members’ lives, our immigrant community, and indeed the world, have been shaped by 9/11. So has SACSS. We are grateful to have been able to serve then, and to do so now.
The SACSS team
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