By Roger Bloom | NB Indy
As the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks arrives, Newport Beach’s David Paine wants folks to know all their options for observing the day, and that among those options is signing up to render service to others in memory of those who perished.
“Remembering 9/11 is a very personal thing,” Paine said. “People have to decide for themselves what to do.”
But a growing number of them are logging on to 911DayofService.org, a website developed by mygooddeed.org, which Paine co-founded in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, in cooperation with 22 other organizations, including 9/11 families groups and United Way.
At 911DayofService.org, visitors can sign in and identify their areas of interest, from veterans to schools to hunger, and location. Visitors are presented a list of service opportunities in their area, such as organizations and pending events.
From there, visitors can say how they’d like to help, whether it be donating money, donating time, or just getting on a support list.
“It keeps a large number of people engaged across a wide range of activities,” said Paine.
The site is attracting about 5,000 visitors a day, Paine said.
911DayofService.org is the second phase of an effort Paine and co-founder Jay Winuk, who lost a brother in the 9/11 attacks, began in 2002.
The pair founded mygooddeed.org and people could go on that site and leave a message about something they had done to serve others, to honor the memory of 9/11.
For Paine, it was all about doing something.
“I’m always about creating,” said Paine, who founded and built PainePR into a major area marketing and public relations shop. “When I was a kid, I built robots out of blocks and flour paste. We’d go to the beach and I’d take all day making the most elaborate sandcastles, inch by inch.”
Last year, mygooddeed.org had 300,000 posts from all 50 states and overseas, Paine said.
There was the man who donated a kidney to a stranger.
The woman who put quarters in expired parking meters all day.
The florist who gave away 12,000 roses one day.
The couple who undertook to build mental health clinics in Africa.
And many teen who said they’d do the dishes for their mom that day.
Then, last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed a bill naming 9/11 as a Day of Service and Remembrance. It was a bill Paine and Winuk, in conjunction with other organizations, had been working on for a while. It was co-sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and passed with bipartisan support.
“Once the legislation go through,” Paine said, “we had a year to plan.”
They received $750,000 in donations, including a large grant from Newport Beach-based bond giant Pimco’s foundation, and began putting together the new website, incorporating new techniques and applications, some specially designed for 911DayofService.org.
“It’s the first time this number of applications have been aggregated on one site for non-profits,” Paine says proudly. Features include applications for identifying volunteer opportunities and for donating, as well as for networking via facebook and twitter, among other functions.
Paine has also worked with the New York educational publisher Scholastic to develop and distribute 9/11 lesson plans that “stress the spirit of unity that followed 9/11 and presents it as a glimpse of what’s possible.”
Paine’s group also has produced public service announcements about 911DayofService.org featuring actors Gary Sinise and Dennis Leary.
“What we want is for 9/11 not to be episodic – you just show up once a year and leave,” Paine said. “We want it to be a day when people can commit to ongoing service, year-round.”