The idea of making 9/11 a National Day of Service and Remembrance was originally conceived in the winter of 2001 by David Paine, who at the time of 9/11 was CEO of PainePR, a national PR and marketing agency in California. David had grown up and worked for many years in the NYC area, before moving to California in 1984. Like so many Americans deeply touched by the 9/11 attacks, David felt compelled to act, and was inspired by the remarkable spirit of unity, compassion and service that brought together so many Americans and others throughout the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. “I thought it would be a wonderful thing if we could honor those who lost their lives, were injured, or rose in service, by keeping that spirit of service and unity alive, at least for one day out of the year,” Paine said. In the Spring of 2002 David formed a nonprofit called One Day’s Pay to help support the growth of the idea. Soon thereafter, David was joined by Jay Winuk, a close friend and former work colleague, who had lost his brother Glenn Winuk in the attacks at the World Trade Center. Jay became co-founder of One Day’s Pay. (In 2007, the name of One Day’s Pay was changed to MyGoodDeed.)
Jay’s brother Glenn was a partner at the national law firm Holland & Knight LLP in downtown New York City when 9/11 happened. For almost 20 years Glenn also was a volunteer firefighter and EMT, specially trained and certified in building collapse rescue operations, working out of the Jericho Volunteer Fire Department on Long Island. When the World Trade Center was attacked, Glenn helped to evacuate his law offices, then raced into the WTC’s South Tower to participate in the rescue efforts. Sadly Glenn died in the line of duty along with many others when the tower collapsed. His partial remains were found in March 2002, a borrowed first response medical kit by his side.
David and Jay wanted to establish September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance under federal law. “We wanted to create a permanent and positive way for the nation to annually honor all of the victims and heroes of 9/11, in a way that increasingly helps people in need, year after year,” said Winuk.
Over the next few years, David and Jay worked with the 9/11 community to build participation in the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, which became known as “9/11 Day,” gradually gaining more and more support for it in the U.S. Congress. Then in 2009, with strong bi-partisan backing and the assistance of Fred Dombo, a MyGoodDeed Board member and partner at Nossaman LLP, MyGoodDeed successfully secured passage of federal legislation by the United States Congress, and a subsequent Presidential Proclamation, that officially recognized and established September as a National Day of Service and Remembrance under U.S. law. The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. is the only other day so recognized under federal law.
Today, the MyGoodDeed nonprofit organization oversees and organizes 9/11 Day each year, on behalf of the 9/11 community, in collaboration with many leading partners and the federal agency the Corporation for National and Community Service. MyGoodDeed’s Advisory Board includes leaders of many prominent organizations representing 9/11 families, first responders, volunteers, and other impacted by the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. MyGoodDeed’s many programs include the creation and airing national public service advertising, distributing free lesson plans to teachers, along with tool kits to organizations, and helping to plan and facilitate hundreds of volunteer service projects around the nation in observance of 9/11 each year. In 2011, for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, MyGoodDeed organized the single largest day of charitable service in United States history, with a record 33 million participants. Since then, participation in 9/11 Day has grown every year, exceeding 40 million participants annually.