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Group Calls for Positive Spin on Painful Anniversary

Families and friends of Sept. 11 victims urge Americans to volunteer to help others that day.

August 13, 2003|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — As America nears the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, families and friends of those who died that day are hoping to transform the date of the terrorist hijackings into a national day of volunteer service and charity.

At a news conference Tuesday, One Day's Pay, the group spearheading the effort, said its purpose was simple: to encourage individuals and organizations to set aside time on Sept. 11 to help others in any way they choose.

"Sept. 11 is a date that has been seared in our memories," said Alice Hoglan, a One Day's Pay board member whose son, Mark Bingham, died on hijacked United Flight 93. She said a day of volunteerism would be "a vehicle to convert that negative, awful energy that was created that day into something beautiful, optimistic and uplifting."

Business leaders and nonprofit groups were instrumental in envisioning the day of charity. One Day's Pay, based in New York, was formed last year in an effort to preserve and strengthen the national outpouring of goodwill in the aftermath of the attacks.

The organization, which also has offices in Irvine, is asking participants to register their good-faith pledges to volunteer on the group's Web site, www.onedayspay.org. The organization can then track and publicize the number of people who are reaching out on Sept. 11 and how they're deciding to help, said David Paine, the group's president, who lives in Newport Beach.

More than 100 groups so far have agreed to contribute, including the Constitutional Rights Foundation, a civics education group in Los Angeles, and the Volunteer Center of Orange County, organizers said. One Day's Pay aims to have 30 million people participating in the effort each year by 2010.

Paine said he and others were inspired to start the organization by "the lingering and urgent need to ... [find] an appropriate way to honor those who gave so much."

"One Day's Pay is about rekindling that spirit of compassion," Paine said.

Hoglan, a United Airlines flight attendant from Los Gatos, pays tribute to her son by advocating causes such as airline safety and equal rights. She called the day of charity "a beautiful concept."

"I lost the most important person to me in the world," she said.

Bingham, a San Francisco publicist and avid rugby player, called Hoglan and his aunt to tell them the aircraft had been hijacked. It's believe he and fellow passengers Jeremy Glick, Todd Beamer and Tom Burnett challenged the terrorists, who had taken over the cockpit. The men possibly disrupted hijackers' plans to crash into a high-profile target in Washington, many authorities believe.

When the organization tested its Web site last year, 12,000 individuals and companies pledged service and many reported back with their experiences, Paine said. The Web site includes links to a variety of nonprofit partners, including Citizen Corps, the Department of Homeland Security's volunteer preparedness office, and the Coalition of 9/11 Families. The site also has resources for volunteers to find local organizations that need help.

"One Day's Pay will make sure Sept. 11 is not an asterisk in the morning news 50 years from now," said Steven A. Culbertson, the president and chief executive of Youth Service America, a group promoting youth community outreach and a partner of One Day's Pay.

Jay S. Winuk, the vice president of One Day's Pay, said he believes altruism is the best way to honor his late brother, Glenn J. Winuk. Glenn was a lawyer and a 20-year volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician who raced from his office near the World Trade Center to help the rescue effort. He died when the south tower collapsed; his remains were found in the rubble six months later.

"You face certain realities as a Sept. 11 family member," Winuk said. "You work through your mourning period on a very public stage; there are daily reminders of the colossal tragedy that stole your loved one.... You're desperate for a chance to very privately come to some peace on the matter.

"For me, One Day's Pay is perhaps the best thing to rise from the ashes of that day."

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