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Habitat Waukesha Honors Those Who Lost Their Lives On 9/11

Posted by Karen Pilarski, Waukesha Patch on Sept. 11, 2020

WAUKESHA, WI—The overcast sky was appropriate given the heaviness and raw emotion on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. On Friday, Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County, volunteers, and public officials gathered at 1104 White Rock Ave. to reflect.

[Photo credit: Karen Pilarski, Patch Staff. Mike Crowley, CEO of Habitat for Humany of Waukesha County, and City of Waukesha Police Officers and fire department bow their heads in a moment of silence.]

Alderman Joe Pieper, City of Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson, and City of Waukesha Fire Chief Steven Howard and Sherri Stigler, with the Waukesha County Communications Center, made remarks. There was a moment of silence to remember the victims of 9/11.

It wasn't only to remember the lives lost on 9/11 but also to show how they are making life better for a local family.

Mike Crowley, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County, said "At Habitat, we give a hand up not a handout."

The families that are put into Habitat homes are given an affordable mortgage that allows them to become homeowners.

In the past year, Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County has built four homes and rehabbed two which have transformed the lives of six families in the City of Waukesha, according to Crowley.

Due to the pandemic and fundraising, the current project has to be scaled back, according to Crowley. The goal is to have the house completed the week before Christmas or early. A mom and her three young children will live in the home.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said Habitat for Humanity is the epitome of what people have in Waukesha County. He also commended the volunteers, including members of the Waukesha County Communications Center, who were in attendance Friday.

"Going above and beyond in what they do and can do in Waukesha County," Farrow said.

'It is personal'.

The county executive's voice quivered as he remembered where he was on Sept. 11. Farrow was on his way to Stevens Point and listened to the radio as he was on the phone with his twin brother Peter.

"Suddenly all the planes turned around and you saw the u-turn in the contrails in the sky," Farrow said.

He and his twin wondered what was going on and what they should do.

"As clear as day, the truck right in front of me had a sign on the back that said 'nothing can happen today that you and the Lord can't handle,' and I still think about it today," Farrow said.

Farrow encouraged everyone to never forget but also to reflect on what happened the day after when the country came together and grew together.

"When you think about every home that we do with Habitat, we are bringing one more person into this community and making it a little better," Farrow said.

City of Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly recalled his sister was on a train on her way into the World Trade Center. When she got to The Bronx, everyone was told to get off the train. She ended up walking four hours to get back home. His sister-in-law was in the Pentagon and ran out with flames at her back.

"For each one of us, it is personal," Reilly said.

He remembered, like Farrow, how people came together to fix the broken cities.

"We are also experiencing another world-changing event not a one day attack. A slow unfolding pandemic," Reilly said.

The mayor added how first responders are once again "rushing into the flames of danger."

[Photo: Members of the community, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, Habitat Waukesha staff, volunteers from the Waukesha County Communications Center, Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly, and members of Waukesha Fire and Police Departments]

Reilly thanked the volunteers, police, and Habitat staff for rebuilding the community by rebuilding the house on White Rock. Reilly said he has optimism for the future because even though everyone has experienced tragedy, "We as a community continue to honor those who lost their lives. We can continue to rebuild and make our communities better".