Through volunteer service, Americans connect with the spirit of unity that arose in the aftermath of 9/11. As Points of Light commemorates the 15th anniversary of 9/11 National Day of Service, we highlight those who have been inspired to give back to their communities.
“I’m acutely aware of how things were prior to 9/11. This is the conflict of our generation, and I’ve looked at how it has affected society to see how I could do my part,” said Melissa Ann Sullivan, a passionate volunteer on behalf of U.S. veterans.
Military service is significant for Sullivan, and she has volunteered extensively to show her appreciation and respect. Sullivan has volunteered more than 80 hours with the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Currently, she’s planning a Spa Day for the AFRH ladies of the federally-operated program who account for about 10 percent of the home’s 450 patrons.
“Service is very important to me – something my parents instilled in me at a young age,” says Sullivan, has been recognized with Daily Point of Light Award for her work. This includes working with Honor Flight, an organization that charters flights for World War II veterans nationwide to visit the capital for a day, Sullivan became involved as a greeter for the flights arriving in DC.
Each flight brings between 50 and 90 veterans. Greeters meet them and help those who are physically disabled or who need additional services receive a guardian. In six years, Sullivan has greeted approximately 5,000 veterans and been a guardian for 15.
“Whether I’m working with homeless veterans or older WWII soldiers, volunteering gives me the opportunity to share my gratitude,” she says. “In some cases, veterans share memories of their experiences with me that they’ve never discussed before.”
Share a story honoring 9/11 first responders or a service member close to you on Twitter or Instagram using #911Day and #HonoringService. You can also get involved with our signature events and service projects taking place on the National Mall or one of 30 sites across the country.