Tuesday’s Children, the Manhasset foundation created to serve children affected by the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, is commemorating its 18th year by adapting its approach to deal with tragedies of the modern day.
Manhasset resident and current Executive Director Terry Grace Sears joined the organization soon after it received its 501(c) nonprofit classification in December 2001.
“Ground Zero was still being cleared, and people were still coming to grips with the devastation,” Sears recalled. “So I said I wanted to help.”
The organization’s initial goal was to assist the widows, widowers and children of victims in moving forward with their lives after the terror attacks.
“The average age of a widow was 35, and the average age of a child was 8, and there were 109 kids born after 9/11, so you’re talking about families,” Sears said.
From there, Tuesday’s Children began implementing programs like counseling, retreats, and community service opportunities for the affected families and it evolved as the children aged.
Emily Racanelli grew up near Manhasset and remembered seeing postcards advertising clothing pickups for Tuesday’s Children in her mailbox before joining the organization in the communication department, later being named marketing and outreach coordinator. She also works in its peer-mentoring program.
“We match children with an adult role model, and those relationships stay together upwards of 10 years, just to have a companion with them, someone to take them out to events and to be there for them,” Racanelli said.
In addition to the programs for 9/11 victims, in 2008 the organization expanded to provide the same services for Gold Star families who lost a sibling or a spouse fighting in the military.
Sears said she wants to expand programs for Gold Star families in the near future.
“We’d like to open offices in Texas, North Carolina, San Diego, Chicago,” Sears said. “We want to implement career services and college support over the long term.”
Tuesday’s Children also created Project Common Bond, which connects young adults who have lost a family member to mass violence or terrorism to each other.
“We sent a handful of 9/11 children who are now in their 20s to Parkland, Florida, to speak with the kids and tell them that there is life after tragedy and that there is a way where you don’t move on, but you do move forward,” Racanelli said.
Throughout its tenure, the organization has worked at creating a long-term healing model to distribute to those affected by tragedy. Copies of the model were first given to individuals in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the deadly shootings in mosques in March.
Though the circumstances may have changed, Racanelli said, the organization’s overall mission remains the same in many communities.
“Our goal is to spread that healing model to as many communities as may need it,” Racanelli said. “We’re still here, the families are still here, and there’s still a need to help them.”