On September 8th, 2001, Monica Iken’s husband Michael sat her down and shared with her that he was going to leave this earth suddenly. Although he did not know how, he was at peace with this knowing. Three days later Michael died in the second tower of the World Trade Center.
Just a few days after the tragic events of 9/11, I met with Monica Iken for the first time. While talking with her, I had a clear vision of her as an essential leader and spokesperson for the 9/11 Memorial Project. I even saw her appearing on world news. “That’s impossible,” she said of my vision. “I am a kindergarten teacher. I love my job and I plan to keep on teaching.”
Ten years passed. In the spring of 2011 I saw Monica on CNN speaking live at Ground Zero with President Barack Obama and former Mayor Giuliani in the background. Tears of joy and astonishment filled my eyes. Monica was the CEO of September’s Mission, the organization representing the families responsible for the building of the 9/11 Memorial. Something incredibly powerful and healing had come from all of this devastation & destruction. In that moment I felt a profound sense of interconnectedness. In my heart I knew that there was a beautiful force in the universe that transcends even the worst of all circumstances.
This power is grace and is transmitted by those who meet tragedy with resilient faith, service, and love.
In the wake of this profound experience I contacted Monica. She invited me to a preview of the September’s Mission documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival and to visit the 911 Memorial. Standing together at the Memorial I shared with her my long held vision for creating a curriculum designed to decrease high-risk behavior, violence, and bullying. As well as address social and emotional challenges faced by our youth. We discussed a shared goal of creating a program for public schools and Monica expressed that this was very much in line with the goals of September’s Mission. She advised me to create an outline for curriculum development.
Equipped with profound knowledge gained from my studies in Mindful Education I wrote a proposal for Monica. The night before our scheduled meeting I went for a walk on the ocean at the beach to pray to God. As I was walking I picked up a perfect long stem yellow rose that had washed up on the shore.
The next day I was on my way home from a successful meeting with Monica in Manhattan when I hopped on the wrong train in Jamaica Queens. The conductor made an unscheduled stop for me where he arranged for a second train to pick me up. When the train arrived & the doors opened; in front of me was the new poster for the 9/11 Memorial featuring a yellow rose much like the one that washed up on shore the previous day.
It is the power of love and grace in our lives that make miracles happen. Monica fulfilled her calling and now I am inspired to fulfill mine by leading the creation and implementation of a powerful program that radically touches the hearts of young people. We at Mission Be will fulfill this mission.
Thank you to September’s Mission for being our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsorship organization. We could not do this work without your love and faith.
With gratitude and respect,
Founder and CEO
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Monica Iken and September’s Mission, the organization that is the 503(c) sponsor for Mission Be.