Docent Highlights Compassion, Commemoration at Museum

Docent Highlights Compassion, Commemoration at Museum

Maria Jaffe, a participant in the 9/11 Memorial Museum's docent program, gives a tour to museum visitors. (Photo: Deena Farrell)

For 9/11 Memorial Museum docent Maria Jaffe, volunteering is her way of honoring the nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11.

"The museum is magnificent,” Jaffe said. “Even though it is 13 years later it still kind of feels like it was yesterday.”

For Jaffe, the daughter of a retired firefighter, the museum experience focuses on both remembering the victims and interacting with the museum’s guests.

"I have met the most interesting and fascinating people here," she said. "The people you encounter here are very compassionate and sensitive people, and that's what this museum is all about."

The docent volunteer program requires 60 to 70 hours of training prior to starting and then a minimum commitment of one year.

"I hadn't been in school in 30 years and all of a sudden I was having homework, exams, and oral presentations," Jaffe joked.

Despite rigorous training, Jaffe feels as though this experience has been worth it because of the amazing people she has met. “Aside from raising my three children, it has been one of the best things I have ever done,” she said.

Working with her fellow docents has also been a rewarding experience for Jaffe, she said, describing them as “a brilliant and dedicated group of people.”

Jaffe stresses the importance of what the visitor can bring emotionally to the museum. The interaction and bonding of people is a constant occurrence.

"You have conversations with these people, and when they walk away you say to yourself 'wow,'” she said. “There are really so many people in this world that are kind.”

Learn more about the docent program here.

By Deena Farrell, 9/11 Memorial Communications Intern