Friends gather at pre-9/11 event

A second annual Sept. 11 commemoration dinner was held Friday night at the World Financial Center.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | NEW YORK | September 5, 2003

A second annual Sept. 11 commemoration dinner was held Friday night at the World Financial Center. For disaster responders who gathered colleagues and friends from more than 50 organizations and agencies that helped with Sept. 11 response the night held a lot of meaning and many memories, some of them painful.

That's why the group gathered before the anniversary of Sept. 11, explained Dr. John Scibilia, executive director of Lutheran Disaster Response of New York (LDRNY).

The event was deliberately held the Friday before the anniversary of Sept. 11 in order to provide "a safe space and time" removed from the anxiety of the actual anniversary, Scibilia said. The choice of timing for last year's event was met with "extraordinarily affirming" feedback, he said, so organizers decided to repeat the event this year on the same schedule.

The groups "celebrated the friendships that evolved over time" between disaster responders, he said.

"We were concerned that so many of the disaster responders weren't taking care of themselves and they weren't getting any indication of thanks from their agencies or from the city," Scibilia said. "It's our opportunity to say thank you to all those agencies have been so helpful to us."'

The dinner was not an awards ceremony, he said, although one award the first and last was given last year to Ken Curtin, a voluntary agency liaison from the Federal Emergency Management Agency who coordinated communication between the different groups.

"We felt he was the one who helped us all work together," Scibilia said. "Without him, we probably never would have established the relationships we did."

Friday night's ceremony featured a brief speech delivered by Scibilia, followed by an open mic session in which participants contributed thoughts and feelings.

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