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Go beyond remembering on 9/11 by volunteering

Never-forget-Patriot-Day_9-11_The Explorographer via Flickr
Photo by The Explorographer via Flickr CC

Sixteen years ago, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists struck on U.S. soil, leaving 2,977 dead in New York City, Washington, D.C. and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

This Sept. 11, residents of Florida, Texas, U.S. territories in the Caribbean and neighboring island nations are struggling to recover from Harvey and Irma, two deadly hurricanes that are among the strongest ever to make landfall.

There is no comparing these tragedies. Each is heart-wrenching and horrific in its own way.

But they share one important attribute.

Today, as on Sept. 11, 2001, people are reaching out to help each other. Complete strangers are opening their hearts and hands and in many cases their homes to those who have lost everything.

Patriot Day volunteerism: That is the driving force behind Patriot Day, which was officially designated when Public Law 107-89 took effect on Dec. 18, 2001.

The following April, Patriot Day's scope was broadened. Now this day each year is officially commemorated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Once the moments of silence remembering those who lost their lives in 2001 are done, thousands head to public service projects to demonstrate the spirit that brought Americans together following the horror 16 years ago.

Today, in addition to volunteers in New York, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania, people are helping hurricane recovery efforts.

But you don't need a major catastrophe to extend a helping hand. And you don't have to limit your help to this one day of the year.

The Corporation for National & Community Service can help you find volunteer opportunities in your community, today and beyond.

9-11 remembrance and service graphic

If you already have a favorite charity, give it a call and ask how you can help.

And if you don't have the time today or simply prefer to help financially, donate. Your charitable dollars can help nonprofits keep their efforts going now and for future disasters.

Most of all, though, take a few moments to be thankful for what you do have, particularly the family and friends who are there to support you in your time of need.

Our personal circles of giving and getting help sustain us in tough times. And we all can benefit from widening its circumference.

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I strongly recommend volunteering after retirement. My non-paid volunteer side gigs can be a pain on occasion but overall they are helping others less fortunate than I and that's worth the considerable effort involved. Plus, in my case they dovetail with my lucrative paid side gigs consulting to the point that I've had to turn down generous job offers to run some of the places I volunteer at. A common problem with retiring is feeling irrelevant and not having a good "why" going forward in life. Although I haven't felt that at all in the two years since I early retired I think the four paid side gigs and nine volunteer ones I'm involved with provide me with the why and the relevance just as much as my former career did, with only about one percent of the stress I used to endure. Great post, volunteering gives the volunteer just as much of a gift as the people you will get to help!

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