Karen Lazar, a 9/11 Memorial & Museum visitor services volunteer and docent, was recently awarded the 2017 Mayoral Service Recognition Award for completing more than 500 hours of service with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Lazar reflects on her experience with the organization and what motivates her to give back. You can find out more about volunteering with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum here.
In my time as a volunteer at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, there is one very profound truth I have learned. No matter who we are, where we are from, what we do, or how old we are, our lives were all changed on Sept. 11, 2001. This fact is universal, and it is part of what makes each visit to the Museum truly special.
I can recall the day I decided to become a Museum member, well before the Museum had opened to the public. I remember thinking, “Of course, this is absolutely something I should contribute to, especially as a life-long New Yorker.” And I can also clearly recall the morning I received an email inviting me to think about becoming a volunteer at the Museum. Coming at a time when I was a bit “adrift” in my post-retirement life, it seemed like such a clear and obvious choice to make.
Beginning as a visitor services volunteer, I felt immediately welcomed into the 9/11 Memorial & Museum community. During my first year of service, I had the opportunity to train and then become a museum docent. This has opened up a whole new world for me, and I find my desire to learn more about 9/11 grows with each passing day, because the more I learn, the more I can enrich the experience of the visitors I interact with. And starting from my very first shift, I realized that no matter what post I was given, every visitor interaction was an opportunity to honor and remember all those who lost their lives on that fateful day.
And finally, I cannot say enough what it means to be a part of this extraordinary family. I think the people who are drawn to work in this place, whether they are volunteers or paid employees, are unique in their desire to serve the mission of the Museum. I feel blessed to be contributing to that mission. And as I have said to many people, although I had a 33-year career as an educator, I often feel that volunteering at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is the most important work I have ever done.
By Karen Lazar, Visitor Services Volunteer and Docent, 9/11 Memorial & Museum