Des Moines Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums Launches First Annual 9/11 Des Moines Community And Remembrance Walk
Today’s guest post comes from Melissa Simmermaker, President of the Des Moines Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums
In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter engaged 184 veterans, first responders, and community members in a Community Walk at Gray’s Lake Park. To recognize the heroes and victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Community Walk began with a tribute event that featured Representative Leonard Boswell, Brigadier General (retired) and current Norwalk Mayor Doug Pierce, and Iraqi War Veteran, Lucas Beenken. Each speaker provided personal reflections regarding his immediate and ongoing responses to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As evidenced by the number of watering eyes in the audience, the tribute event provided an opportunity for participants to remember an event that displayed both the evil and inherent good of mankind.
Following the tribute event, participants, holding American flags and wearing matching 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance t-shirts, lined up to walk the two-mile path around Gray’s Lake “in the shoes of a soldier.” The walk was led by two honorary flag bearers; Julie Struck, an AmeriCorps*NCCC Alumni who served at Ground Zero and Dan Lamb, a member of the Des Moines Fire Department. While participants completed the walk, AmeriCorps Alums, holding posters with quotes about the September 11, 2001 attacks, lined the path. Following the walk, participants enjoyed healthy snacks and completed two large-scale service projects to benefit homeless veterans and military children and youth. Volunteers decorated quilt squares to be sewn into quilts and donated to homeless veterans through Central Iowa Shelters and Services. In addition, volunteers decorated cards to be donated to military children and youth through Army One Source.
Throughout the event, the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Chapter also collected donations of winter coats for homeless veterans and school supplies for military children and youth. Echoing the spirit of service that was felt throughout the nation following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the alums chapter is proud to report that 27 winter coats were collected to be distributed by Central Iowa Shelters and Services and 217 school supply items were collected to be distributed by Army Source One. In addition, the tribute event and community walk were featured on WHO TV and in the Des Moines Register.
Thanks to the efforts of the Des Moines AmeriCorps Alums Planning Committee, comprised of Claire Parrish, Jessica Krough, Tom Vance, Monica Davids, Bethany Melendy, Jamie Nagel, and Melissa Simmermaker, the chapter was able to organize and implement their largest service project, to date.