Danbury woman writes about lives touched by 9/11
DANBURY -- Danbury's Wendy Stark Healy says she believes we all have the chance to do something meaningful with our lives.
Healy has published a book profiling more than a dozen people she said she believes have done just that. She said these people transformed their lives after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and made a difference in the world.
The 100-page book, called "Life is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal after 9/11," was published by IUniverse Inc., a self-publishing company in Indiana.
The book costs $12.95 and is available on Amazon and on Healy's website. She said proceeds from sales will benefit Trinity Lutheran Church in Brewster, N.Y.
Healy said she was inspired to write the book during her seven years as a contracted communications director for Lutheran Disaster Response of N.Y., a nonprofit agency in Manhattan where she met those affected by 9/11.
"I saw most of them regularly during the recovery and rebuilding efforts," said Healy, 55, a former journalist who, since 1990, has owned Griffin Communications, a writing, public relations and communications agency in Danbury. "We all worked together. They would be at meetings representing their agencies, or at church services remembering victims and families. Each time I spoke with them, I was in awe of how they changed their lives."
She said she was inspired by people like the Rev. Tom Taylor of Long Island. Taylor spent hours blessing body parts at ground zero, where he had volunteered as chaplain for five months after 9/11. He has since gone back to school and is a mental health counselor as well as a pastor.
Also featured is New Jersey resident Lisa Orloff, who had a career designing and selling fashion sweaters. Today, she is executive director of the World Cares Center, a New York City organization that has provided disaster preparation, trauma training and other services to more than 45,000 people.
More InformationIf you go At 10 a.m. on Sunday, Healy plans to sign copies of her book at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2106 Route 6 in Brewster, N.Y. For information, call the church at 845-279-5181. For information on Healy or her book, visit www.griffincommunications.biz.
One of Healy's most emotional interviews was with New Milford's Jean Mariano. On June 6, 2007, Mariano's only son, 30-year-old Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Lewis, of Brookfield, was killed in the line of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Mariano said that while every day is a challenge for her, she made the decision from the beginning to stay strong and keep going.
"In suffering a loss as great as mine, there are a lot of people who go into a very dark place, but I'm not one of them," said Mariano, 59. "That's because of Jason, who, throughout his life, was always a very positive person. He never had a pity party for himself, and he would be so disappointed in me if I let his death define me."
Mariano now works with "Wreaths Across America," a nonprofit organization that raises money to place wreaths on the graves of troops.
She also coordinates an annual fishing derby fundraiser at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield in her son's honor. The derby raises about $1,000 each year, which benefits different charities, she said.
Since her son's death, Mariano has become an athlete, she now runs, bikes, and has even participated in a triathlon.
Healy said, "We're all familiar with the horrific scenes from 9/11 -- the soot, the rubble, and the devastation -- but what many of us don't realize is all the good that arose out of this tragedy. Generations from now, if kids had books that only showed the sadness from this tragedy, they would never know about all the healing and growth that happened after it.
"With this book, I want to send the message that we can do anything we set our minds to. People can use these inspiring stories to push past their own fears or limits. They can change the future in positive ways to make the world a better place."