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Not-For-Profit Helps Locals FIND Outlet After 9/11

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Bob Meglio needed an outlet in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, 12 of which were members of the Mamaroneck and Larchmont community.

Meglio and a small group of local residents and leaders formed Friends Indeed (FIND), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization to raise money for the 11 families -- and their children's college funds -- who lost a loved one.

"The real need was to unite the community together around helping the families here that lost someone," said Meglio, a Larchmont resident. "The idea was to provide emotional and financial support to the 11 families in the community."

Just before Thanksgiving 2001, FIND organized a charity walk that touched all three municipalities. The walkers, accompanied by ladder engines on either end of the processession, began at the Mamaroneck High School on Boston Post Road and ended at Memorial Park, where a marble stone plaque commemorating those lost was unveiled three years later in 2004.

Meglio organized charity walks around the annivesary of Sept. 11 until 2003, when FIND planted a plum tree in Memorial Park, which has grown to stand tall above the plaque, which reads: "As the garden lives on, so may their spirit."

"I knew that the walks would come and go, but that this would last," Meglio said. "I think its been fabulous that the Town has carried the torch since FIND stop doing the walks."

FIND raised enough money from the walk in 2001 to give each family a $9,000 check around the holidays to help pay the bills. "A lot of these families didn't have any paychecks coming in and it was a very trying time," Meglio said. "After that we felt that our energies and our efforts should be to help the children of these families."

Sixteen children lost a parent on Sept. 11, according to Meglio, whose fellow FIND member Richard Seid set up college plans for all of them. Seid, who works for Smith Barney, created 529 plans for the 15 of 16 kids who didn't already have a college fund. They contributed money raised from the second walk, two charity hockey games held at the Hommocks ice rink and Meglio's run in the New York City Marathon. In 2003, the parents took possession of the accounts, each containing $10,000 dollars.

"At the time, it was almost as much for me as it was for everyone else because I just needed an outlet," said Meglio, who knew a few of residents lost, like John T. McErlean Jr.

The hedge fund worker also lost an old friend, Valerie Silver Ellis, who lived through the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

"'I just never felt comfortable in that building'; that's just a haunting statement," said Meglio, whose eyes took the brunt of the painful memory.

Meglio, along with the other members of FIND and the local community will have a chance to honor those that they lost Sunday on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

A 1 p.m. dedication ceremony will take place across the street in the field behind the train parking lot. Meglio and FIND are inviting everyone to come over afterward.

How will you commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11? Comment below, on Facebook and Twitter. You can also e-mail local reporter Brian Donnelly at bdonnelly@mainstreetconnect.us.

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