WTC SITE WORKERS GIVE THANKS

Copyright 2002 Daily News, L.P.
Daily News (New York)...04/29/2002

By RALPH R. ORTEGA DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Workers nearing the end of recovery efforts at Ground Zero gave thanks yesterday to the hundreds of Salvation Army volunteers who brought them food, clean clothes and comfort after Sept. 11.

Despite a heavy rain, 85 cops, firefighters and other uniformed personnel joined the volunteers for a "gratitude" Mass near the workers' respite tent, which is nicknamed the Taj Mahal.

The Rev. Brian Jordan, who celebrated the Mass under a cross made from steel girders recovered from the rubble, skipped his homily to allow workers to thank the volunteers.

"The worst thing in my life has been the last eight months," said Jack Cavenish, a retired firefighter, with tears in his eyes as he addressed the volunteers. "I know that God will give you all of the reward you deserve."

Ronald Werner, a Fire Department battalion chief stationed at Ground Zero, noted how volunteers began signing up immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"You've been here since day one. You've given everyone the support, moral and material, to keep us going," Werner said. "The whole bunch of us owe it all to you."

Denise Bellingham, an FDNY paramedic, said she grew to expect "random acts of kindness" whenever she visited the Taj Majal. "Whether it was a smile, or a hug, or words to share, when things got overwhelming, or someone to take my plate away from the table when I was too tired to get up," she said. "I just wanted to say thanks."



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