By Christine Curella (NJ ’07)
Truman Scholars in Washington, DC, came together to participate in the National Day of Service and Remembrance,
a day to remember and honor those lost on September 11, 2001, through
volunteerism and community service. Our team, dubbed “Harryed Hands”, joined
senior citizens at The Washington
Home, a comfort care center that provides long-term services for elderly
residents and their families. Our task: to interview residents about September
11 and contribute their stories to the oral histories compiled by StoryCorps and preserved at the Library of
Trout-Perez (KY ’01) and I spoke with Mr. Washington, who remembered watching
the coverage on the news and feeling sadness. In other cases, our conversations
roamed to other memories that the residents had. For Irene, interviewed by JoAnna Smith (IA
’07), speaking about September 11 led to stories of her life in Berlin. Marie,
who had been a nurse in DC, shared the story of a friend who had lost three
children and two godchildren. I was at the World Trade Center, on my way
to an international fashion show, the culmination of my first job in the
Garment District and my years at a vocational high school for the needle trades
in New York City.
Some of the
stories were sad. Some were
inspirational and funny, with the residents sharing advice and letting us learn
from their life experiences. Knowing
that these stories would be contributed to our oral histories and shared with
others was elevating. But I only fully realized the importance of our efforts
in my conversation with Annabelle, a native of Queens, New York, who had worked
at Voice of America in the
1950s. For Annabelle, stories—such as the ones we were collecting—are how we
communicate ideas , and also compassion.
The Trumans of Harryed Hands thank the residents of The Washington home
for teaching us a little about both.
Christine Curella (NJ ’07) works
at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and loves organizing events with
Truman Scholars in the Washington, DC area.
Harryed Hands volunteers included
Katherine Blaisdell (HI ’08), Matthew Garza (CA ’09), Amber
Herman (TN ’06), Sheila Korth (NE ’07), Eleanor Ott (KS ’08), Patrick Reimherr (UT ’09), JoAnna Smith (IA ’07), Tia Trout-Perez (KY
’01), Tish Scolnik (NY ’09), Caitie Whelan (ME ’07).