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7 from Edinboro University participate in day of service to mark 9/11 anniversary


Seven volunteers organized by the Veterans Success Center at Edinboro University will join other veterans Monday, Sept. 9, in a day of service in New York City to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Edinboro group will help paint and make other improvements at the New York City Fire Department’s EMS training academy as part of an effort organized by The Mission Continues. The Mission Continues is a community service organization that helps post-9/11 veterans transition from military to leadership roles at home.

Organizers said the training academy was chosen as the site for the day of service as a tribute to the work of the first responders at the World Trade Center and other locations attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Six student veterans who served post-9/11, an ROTC cadet and the Veteran Success Center coordinator will make the trip from Edinboro. They plan to depart at 1 a.m. Monday and drive to New York City to provide four hours of service. Their time in New York will conclude with a visit to Ground Zero, site of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

VSC Coordinator Jay Breneman, a post-9/11 veteran himself, said the call to serve in the face of disaster and hardship is at the core of the identity of many in his generation of U.S. military veterans.

“Many recognize that the terror attacks in New York, D.C., and the skies above Pennsylvania changed all of us and our course in life forever. What makes the transition to civilian life easier is that continued sense of service and purpose, something that cannot be stripped from us simply because we take off the uniform,” Breneman said. “As part of our mission to provide a rewarding collegiate experience, Edinboro University works collaboratively with our student veterans in their continued service to our communities and our country.”

Former Army Reserve medic Cherise Gibbs, one of the Edinboro students making the trip, said she views the day of service as an opportunity to repay the brave work of the first responders on 9/11.

“On Sept. 11, I watched the Towers fall from a TV in my middle school classroom in Erie. It was terrifying for seventh-grade me,” Gibbs said. “We watched as the first responders began helping the people in that area and searching for those who were lost. This opportunity is my way of giving back.”

Student Stacy Pancoast, a U.S. Air Force veteran, also said participating in the day of service marks an anniversary that’s powerfully meaningful to her personally. And, Pancoast said, “Being a military veteran, I want to give back to the community that has supported what the military does.”

Breneman said the group has received the support of local businesses that have provided food and refreshments for the trip. They plan to return to Edinboro Monday night.