Mayor who served as 9/11 volunteer returns to Ground Zero

Author: , Reporter
Published: Sep 11 2011 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 12 2011 06:39:55 PM EDT
SAINT LAWRENCE, Pa. -

The September 11th anniversary had a special meaning for the mayor of Mount Penn. Berks County. 

Josh Nowotarski was a volunteer at a church at Ground Zero after the attacks. 

Ten years later, he went back to remember his service and those he helped.

"There was a church in the shadow of the towers and that became command central," said Nowotarski. "We did anything that we could whether it was handing out supplies, handing out meals, being a shoulder or a person to listen."

Through his church in Mount Penn, Nowotarski volunteered off and on for six months at Saint Paul's Church and met many first responders.

"Everyone down in the pit had the same vision of what was happening and they were just looking for someone to talk to, especially on days when they found either one of their own or another victim," said Nowotarski.

Nowotarski visited New York in 2001 because of his time there. It inspired him to want to help people and become mayor of Mount Penn. He was elected in 2006 and is still mayor today.

When Nowotarski went back to New York on Sunday, it wasn't because of official business.  It was to remember his time as a volunteer.

"If you could bundle a bunch of emotions into a box, that's what it was," said Nowotarski. "There was a sense of anger, a sense of sadness, and some happiness because of seeing some old friends."

Nowotarski said it was just an overwhelming day of emotion.  He described how the new memorial with the trees manages to block out the noise of New York City, and all you can hear is water.

"The last time I was there it was still a giant hole in the ground," said Nowotarski.

Things have changed, but not his emotions. Going back on the 10th anniversary, Nowatarksi said it was a powerful day.

"It seems like it was yesterday to be honest with you and I don't know if there will ever be a sense of closure," said Nowotarski. "You'll never forget what happened on that day."