In honor of our annual Volunteer Week at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, we are publishing firsthand accounts from a mother and daughter who volunteer at the Museum. Trisha Franckowiak has served as a volunteer docent since 2015, and her daughter Angelina Roffo has recently begun to volunteer at the Museum as well.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I had just found out I was newly pregnant with Angelina. I didn’t want to tell too many people yet because it was so early, but my plan was to meet up with my buddy Damien on Thursday, Sept. 13, to tell him the news. I never got to tell him because the last time we spoke was at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, from his work at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the North Tower.
I spent the next month or so going to funerals and memorial services until I just couldn’t do it any longer. For years after I tucked away the sadness and pain. I focused on the new precious life of my daughter. I never hid from her what 9/11 was about. I felt it was important for her to grow up understanding and appreciating how precious life is and how fortunate we are for our freedoms. We would send packages to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Angelina would send handmade pictures of her “home” in each package, which was a picture of the WTC site that was just outside our living room window.
When the Museum opened on May 15, 2014 – my birthday, and coincidentally, also my friend Daniel Trant’s birthday, who was killed on 9/11 – I swore I would never step foot in that place. I didn’t want to relive any of that pain again.
But one day I was looking for some way I could give back to my community, and I saw a posting for volunteers at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I had a two-day mental debate with myself before I filled out the forms. I started docent training in January 2015.
Once I started volunteering, I finally found some peace and a lot of the anger I had pent up subsided. I am so fortunate to teach others about the events of 9/11 and carry on the memories of those lost. Every time I walk through the doors of the Museum, I see it as a privilege.
My daughter Angelina couldn’t wait until she turned 16 to be able to share this same privilege. She grew up in a post-9/11 world, but the events of that day have been engrained in her since infancy. The 9/11 attacks occurred in our home, in our hearts and in our neighborhood, and it was important for us to share that with others.
Volunteering together is healing because it brings us together as a family and connects us to others. I love telling visitors how proud I am of Angelina being by my side every Sunday.
Volunteering at the 9/11 Museum is important to me for several reasons. I love that every time I volunteer I learn something new, and at the same time, I can teach and share what I have learned with visitors. I enjoy meeting and engaging with so many different people from all over the world. Being a volunteer at the Museum has also helped me to be more outgoing and a better leader.
September 11 has always been a part of my life. My mom always shared her memories of her friends lost on that dreadful day. I never realized how much I knew about the events of 9/11 and what led up to that day until I started talking to others who weren’t affected or just didn’t have much information on the subject. It’s just part of my life and who I am.
Volunteering at the Museum solidifies why I want to serve our country in the future. The Museum reminds me how fortunate we are to have freedom and live in this amazing country and how there are many out there who want to take that privilege away from us.
My mother and I are very close, and I enjoy spending time with her. I couldn’t think of a better way to be together. She started volunteering three years before I was old enough to volunteer, but I thought it was so cool listening to the interactions she had with visitors. Every shift she had a story about a visitor or about something she learned. I wanted to be a part of that with her.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
By 9/11 Memorial Staff