By Celia Shatzman
Glenn Winuk was an attorney by profession, a caregiver by nature. When the volunteer EMT technician learned that the Twin Towers had been hit, he ran from his downtown law office to the South Tower, medical bag in hand. He perished when the building collapsed, but his heroism and lifelong devotion to community service inspired his brother, Jay Winuk, 53, to cofound My Good Deed, a group that spearheaded the move to have September 11 officially designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. After members waged a long, eight-year campaign on Capitol Hill, their wish finally came true in 2009. That year more than 5 million people from all 50 states and 165 countries stepped up to volunteer and commemorate the anniversary.
Since then the organization has launched mygooddeed.org, a website that lists more than 850,000 local, national and international groups, making it easy for people to find charitable causes that match their interests, see what kind of support is needed and pledge their services. "It's a way to move forward while honoring those who perished and rose in service," Jay says. "It's the answer to the question around the country that many people have, which is, what am I supposed to do on 9/11? They want to mark the date somehow and be respectful."
For the upcoming 10th anniversary, My Good Deed is staging service events in 20 cities across the country with the goal of getting 10 million Americans to volunteer. To inspire students, the website includes lesson plans on 9/11 as well as downloadable toolkits to help classrooms organize their own projects. Jay and his wife, Carolyn, make sure kids Justin, 14, and Melanie, 8, participate in annual events in New York City, such as school beautification programs. "The events surrounding 9/11 are a tricky thing to teach," he says. "These are heavy issues, and we believe that history books shouldn't reflect just the attacks and terrorism—they have to include the other side of the story. Future generations should learn about how good people of the world responded."