OAKLAND-BERKELEY, Calif. -- Seven years later, the horrific events of 9/11 still conjure up feelings of disbelief, fear and helplessness. But out of the devastation caused by the worst ever terrorist attacks on our country emerged incredible stories of courage, heroism and the American spirit.
Two Northern California women traveled to New York City not long after the twin towers fell, capturing 30 first-hand accounts of that fateful day, all emergency responders, all "Women at Ground Zero."
"One of the things that bothered us most about the invisibility of women at Ground Zero was the media presented few role models for girls and young women who might be considering careers in public safety," authors Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba wrote in their book introduction. "We did not want the women working at Ground Zero to fade into the background of American history. Nor did we want to see current and future generations of children grow up believing that only men are strong, brave and heroic."
Co-authors Hagen, a former Sonoma County firefighter, and Carouba, a retired investigative social worker, will present this collection of powerful stories told exclusively by female firefighters, police officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who responded to the World Trade Center tragedy, at a scholarship fundraising event sponsored by the Alameda Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"This is our largest event to date. 'Event' with a capital 'E,' " exclaimed Miriam Delagrange, citizen's police academy board member and co-chair of the event. "The book was a great jumping off point to heighten community awareness as well as to fund scholarships for youth. Perhaps students will think a little differently about first responders and make (it) a career choice."
Delagrange, along with fellow board member and co-chair Audrey Lord-Hausman, both members of Alameda's Community Emergency Response Team, said the scholarship funds are designed to help students pay for tuition, books, equipment and materials.
"Our hope is that it will encourage youth to think seriously of entering these professions," Lord-Hausman added. "My experience with ACPAAA exposed me to the most basic of pressures that any emergency responder is under when confronted with a disaster or potentially explosive situation, and how selfless they can be."
Delagrange sees in the book the importance of our community's emergency response teams and those involved with 9/11.
"I remember being overwhelmed by the scope of the tragedy. The brave men and women who without a second thought did their jobs to save so many still give(s) me goose bumps," she continued. "I have gotten to know many of Alameda's first responders and respect their commitment and contribution."
The "Women at Ground Zero" multi-media presentation also details the co-authors' experiences while traveling to New York City in 9/11's aftermath, both on a mission to find and interview female emergency responders who they felt were left out of the national conversation following the terrorist attacks.
"Young women need to know that these fields are open to them and those parents who may be reluctant to encourage their daughters to enter these fields need to hear and see how these professionals take such pride and commitment on behalf of the public good," explained Lord-Hausman, who attended the original presentation after the book's release in 2002. It included live appearances by the 30-women featured in the book. "It was moving, inspiring, motivating and reinvigorating to hear their personal accounts."
Carouba has not yet seen the full presentation and said she is looking forward to it.
"I have only heard about it from previous attendees," she added. "Their enthusiasm is contagious. I can't wait!"
To buy tickets to the Alameda Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association's "Women at Ground Zero Presentation Scholarship Fundraiser," go towww.BrownPaperTickets.com.Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. Tickets also will be available for cash or check only at the door.
The event will be at Auctions By The Bay Theater, 2700 Saratoga St. in Alameda Point. The book "Women at Ground Zero" also will be available for purchase and a book signing will take place after the presentation.
"I hope that men and women get greater insight into the commitment that all first responders make every day they report to work," Carouba concluded. "I also hope that attendees come away with a sense of excitement and purpose as well as the knowledge that anything is possible as long as you try." IF YOU GO
WHAT: "Women at Ground Zero"
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Auctions By The Bay Theater, 2700 Saratoga St. in Alameda Point.TICKETS: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, available at the door or atwww.BrownPaperTickets.com.