About Us | Our History
Voices of September 11th is a non-profit, non-partisan organization led by Founding Director, Mary Fetchet, a clinical social worker, who lost her son Brad in the attacks. VOICES was established in October 2001 by Ms. Fetchet and Beverly Eckert, an insurance specialist and 9/11 widow, to create an information clearinghouse for those affected by the attacks through the use of a website, electronic newsletter, direct mailings and media outreach.
In 2003 the group secured 501 (c)3 non-profit status and opened its headquarters in New Canaan, Connecticut. It soon became clear that 9/11 families required more than information and VOICES has evolved to meet families' needs by expanding programs, increasing staff, and developing internship and volunteer opportunities.
VOICES moved to its third office in New Canaan, CT and, in August 2009, opened a satellite office in New Brunswick, New Jersey to provide services to the nearly seven hundred 9/11 families and thousands of rescue workers and survivors living in New Jersey. VOICES continues to connect 9/11 family members, rescue workers and survivors throughout the United States to each other and to assist those in need of support services. Our membership has grown to over 16,000 members across the United States and around the world.
VOICES' dedicated staff of professionals is committed to providing continuity of care to promote resiliency and address the long-term issues of the people we serve. Staff social workers provide a wide range of services including assessments, case management, community based-referrals, support groups, and resiliency programs. In addition, they provide information on resources, scholarships and 9/11 related events. VOICES has hosted an annual forum and commemorative luncheon for 9/11 families, rescue workers and survivors in New York City. The two-day event, held September 10-11, draws hundreds of participants and provides a range of information and support for all those affected by the September 11th attacks.
Our Advocacy Work
Through the work of Mary Fetchet, VOICES has independently or in participation with other leading 9/11 organizations been involved in major issues surrounding 9/11 including: respectful notification and handling of unidentified remains, personal effects, establishment of memorials, mental health issues, and national and local preparedness.
VOICES continues to support implementation of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for government reform. Ms. Fetchet has personally testified on 9/11 issues before the 9/11 Commission in 2003, the U.S. Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee in 2004, and the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations in 2006, among other agencies and organizations.
In the aftermath of September 11th, Mary Fetchet meets with other family members in her home in New Canaan, Connecticut to share their grief and learn what support is available through the city-sponsored Family Assistance Center. She and Beverly Eckert begin a grass-roots advocacy group and information clearinghouse, later known as Voices of September 11th. On October 28th, the first memorial service is held at the World Trade Center site. The Daffodil Project is founded as a memorial to raise the spirits of New Yorkers and revitalize the city parks.
The Tribute in Light debuts on March 11, 2002, the sixth month anniversary of the attacks. It has been presented annually since. The illuminated memorial reaches 4 miles into the sky. Family members form the Family Steering Committee to demand a congressional joint inquiry into intelligence failures that led to the attacks on 9/11. When testifying before congressional committees, Mary Fetchet states, "It is our moral obligation to be sure that our government is doing everything they can to make sure this is a safer country, so that no one else is walking in my shoes." The 9/11 Commission is created in November.
Voices of September 11th hosts its first Information Forum and Commemorative Luncheon at the Marriott New York Downtown Hotel
VOICES opens its first office in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Discussion begins on plans for the creation of a Memorial for World Trade Center victims and a competition for a design of the Memorial is announced. VOICES co-hosts a workshop with Imagine New York about plans for the Memorial. Family members testify at the hearings of the 9/11 Commission. Families submit applications to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. VOICES hosts information forums and lectures on resources available to families. The Columbia University World Trade Center evacuation study is published.
Voices of September 11th receives non-profit status.
"Reflecting Absence" is selected as the winning design for the World Trade Center Memorial. VOICES holds an open house in Connecticut and distributes commemorative quilts and a children's book specifically created for 9/11 families. A final report of the findings of the 9/11 Commission is issued. It includes 41 proposed reforms, including creating the position of a single intelligence director. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush.
VOICES partners with the American Red Cross to promote September as National Preparedness Month. VOICES holds financial planning workshops. Over 1,600 family members attend the VOICES Information Forum and Luncheon in September, providing an opportunity for 9/11 families from around the world to come together.
Voices of September 11th inaugurates the Building Bridges awards.
Family members, including Mary Fetchet, testify at the Homeland Security hearings. On July 7th, four bombs explode in the London subways, killing 50 people. VOICES states that this "reaffirms our conviction that people of all nations must join together to build a just and lasting peace for the future." VOICES supports efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina. "Friendship" bears are presented to Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov for the family members of the victims of the Beslan School attacks in Russia.
VOICES holds a Holiday Interfaith Service at St. Paul's Chapel.
VOICES partners with the U.N. Committee of New Canaan and Afghan officials to coordinate a cultural exchange between U.S. high school students and Afghan schoolgirls. Mary Fetchet testifies on Capitol Hill about the effectiveness of the measures recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Construction begins at the 9/11 Memorial site. In NYC, the Medical Examiner reopens the process of identification of remains.
In September, the theme of the Day of Remembrance is "Remember, Reflect and Renew." New York State legislators including Senator Hillary Clinton and Representative Carolyn Maloney request funding from the federal government to cover those with health problems incurred by working in the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center Site. VOICES hosts a Holiday Remembrance Service at St. Paul's Chapel.
An announcement is made that the 9/11 Living Memorial Project, which was conceived by September's Mission under the guidance of Monica Iken, will be launched by Voices of September 11th. September's Mission founder, Monica Iken, says, "Our hope has always been to ultimately incorporate this important project in the Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site. What better way to honor our loved ones than to carry their personal tributes about who they were in the place that will tell their story for future generations to come." The online digital archive chronicles the lives lost and documents inspirational stories.
Mary Fetchet speaks at the New York State Archives Symposium, "Documenting the September 11th Attacks on the World Trade Center." President George W. Bush signs the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 into law. 9/11 families reach out to support the families of the 32 people killed in the Virginia Tech attacks. The annual Information Forum includes presentations on preserving treasured photos and keepsakes, an update on the museum and a presentation by New York Times journalist, Janny Scott, about the experience of writing Portraits of Grief tributes.
VOICES moves to its present location in New Canaan, Connecticut.
VOICES meets with 169 family members during 10 appointments creating 121 Living Memorial Tributes.
Hearings begin in Washington, D.C. on the "Status of Compensation for 9/11 Health Effects." VOICES holds its first annual Always Remember Gala with Brian Williams, Chris Berman and the Harlem Gospel Choir. The Information Forum features President Bill Clinton, who speaks on the progress that has been made over the last seven years and the global threats that still remain. The Pentagon Memorial is dedicated and opens to the public. In December, deadly attacks in Mumbai are a horrific reminder that the threat of terrorism remains high around the world.
VOICES meets with 123 family members during 23 appointments creating 100 Living Memorial Tributes.
The 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania is approved by the National Parks Service and victims' families. Mary and Frank Fetchet, together with forty other family members, attend a reception with recently inaugurated President Barack Obama. This is the first time victims' families have participated in an open forum with a sitting President. Co-founder and dear friend Beverly Eckert dies in the airline crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Buffalo, New York. Mary Fetchet is honored during a "Women of Strength" fundraising event for Tuesday's Children. President Clinton is keynote speaker and Jon Bon Jovi entertains at the Always Remember Gala
The Voices of September 11th office in New Brunswick, New Jersey opens with Governor Tom Kean in attendance. The first Run to Remember is held on Governor's Island. VOICES participates in the Clinton Global Initiative, a foundation created to empower global leaders to forge solutions to the world's pressing problems. Trials are scheduled for 9/11 detainees held in Guantanamo Bay.
Voices of September 11th and The National September 11 Memorial & Museum announce a formal collaboration to support the 9/11 Living Memorial Project and incorporate VOICES' growing digital archive of remembrances into the Memorial Museum.
VOICES meets with 138 family members during 41 appointments creating 76 Living Memorial Tributes.
A massive earthquake hits Haiti and VOICES joins with other non-profits to provide information about contributing to the recovery effort. Congressional hearings are held on the Christmas Day bombing plot. In the New Jersey office, VOICES holds a Scholarship Forum for prospective college students and their families. A terrorist unsuccessfully attempts to set off a bomb in Times Square. The keynote speaker for the Always Remember Gala is Tony Blair, who travels from England specifically to meet privately with 9/11 families. VOICES rings the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on September 10th. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which reopens the Victim Compensation Fund to provide assistance to those who were injured in the recovery effort, is signed into law.
VOICES co-hosts a conference, with Rutgers University, on "Lessons Learned from the Aftermath of 9/11."
VOICES meets with 477 family members during 170 appointments creating 239 Living Memorial Tributes.
VOICES expresses its support for the victims and family members impacted by the shooting in Tucson that injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Mary Fetchet, Maureen McNeil of the Anne Frank Center, Christine Nelson from the Morgan Library, and Retired PAPD Lieutenant Bill Keegan speak at the Morgan Library Presentation, "The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives." At the New Brunswick office, VOICES holds a speaker series to promote self-expression and healing. Attorney General Holder announces that he is referring the cases of the 9/11 conspirators to the Department of Defense and the trials will proceed in a military tribunal. President Obama announces that Osama bin Laden died in an attack on his compound in Pakistan. President Obama lays a wreath at the World Trade Center site and he later meets with family members. The keynote speaker for the Always Remember Gala is Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the master of ceremonies is NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams. On July 22nd, two sequential terrorist attacks are carried out against the Norwegian government, the civilian population and a summer camp. HandsOn Network and My Good Deed lead a coalition supporting the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance.
On September 8th, VOICES co-sponsors the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit, "Remembrance, Renewal and Resilience," with the Center for National Policy at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. On September 10th, the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania is dedicated and opens to the public. The Empty Sky Memorial is dedicated in New Jersey. VOICES holds Information Forums and Luncheons in Washington, D.C. and New York City on September 10th and 11th. Keynote speakers in New York City are Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The 9/11 Memorial opens in New York City with Presidents Bush and Obama in attendance.
VOICES participates in fourteen commemorative events in five states, benefitting over 6,000 attendees.
VOICES meets with 661 family members during 224 appointments creating 408 Living Memorial Tributes.
"Mary Fetchet and other survivors of September 11th just got involved - a small group of committed people - and they changed the world."
~ Senator Joseph Lieberman
Recognition of Our Work
Ms. Fetchet has received numerous awards on behalf of VOICES
- 2003 National Justice Award
- 2004 Connecticut Hero Award, presented by U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman
- 2004 ABC Person of the Year
- 2005 Rotary Foundation - Paul Harris Fellowship
- 2005 American Red Cross Award
- 2006 Eugene O'Neill Connecticut's Most Uncommon Women Award
- 2007 NBC Nightly News - Making a Difference
- 2008 Direct TV Hometown Hero
- 2010 Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Leadership in Extraordinary Circumstances by the National Network for Social Work Managers
The 9/11 Living Memorial
In August 2006, VOICES launched the 9/11 Living Memorial Project to document the nearly 3,000 lives lost and first hand accounts of resuce workers and survivors. The project incorporated information about memorials, memorial foundations and events that VOICES began collecting in 2002. Our professional staff has met one-on-one with over 800 families and provided individual support through the healing process of creating meaningful tributes that commemorate the lives of their loved ones and documents their personal stories.
Since the 9/11 Living Memorial Project was launched, VOICES has conducted several hundred worksops throughout the tri-state area, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.
In November, 2009 Frank and Mary Fetchet traveled to London to meet with the 9/11 families living in the UK.
The 9/11 Living Memorial project was originally inspired by a concept concieved by September's Mission and its founder, Monica Iken.
Building Bridges Project
In September 2004, VOICES used its annual information forum and luncheon to launch its Building Bridges Project, to foster cultural understanding and support for all those affected by terrorism internationally through exhibitions, exchange, competitions and good-will gestures such as the Send-A-Bear Program.
The program, started in 2005, provides teddy bears and messages of support to victims of terrorism worldwide. The inaugural program for the victim's families of the Beslan, Russia school siege sent 350 teddy bears to Russia with bilingual good wishes. The effort was praised by Russia's ambassador to the United States.
Partnership with the United Nations Committee of New Canaan
In 2006, VOICES established a partnership with the United Nations Committee of New Canaan, CT and Afghan officials to coordinate cultural exchanges between 500 girls from schools in Afghanistan and high school students in the United States. The partnership resulted in a photo exhibition exchange in April 2006 between Afghan and US students co-sponsored by VOICES called, "Roshan: Light and Promise" for which each group took photos of their homes and lives.