COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As the nation prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, one local woman looks forward to again sharing her own Sept. 11 tale of overwhelming generosity.
Shirley Brooks-Jones, who retired in 1989 as assistant to the vice president of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, is generally available to discuss her experiences with media through Sept. 5. Afterwards, she heads north for her 20th visit to Lewisporte in Newfoundland, where she and 6,000 other airline passengers were diverted on Sept. 11, 2001, as U.S. airspace closed after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Lewisporte, a town of fewer than 4,000, took in 800 of the passengers for three days until the planes could enter the United States.
"No matter where we were, we had everything we needed. People brought towels and blankets from their homes, they brought home-made food, we slept on cots or mats from the local school's gym, and there were boxes and boxes of deodorant, shampoo, razors -- anything we needed, they provided. At night, the ladies of the town would pick up used towels, take them home to wash them, and bring them back fresh the next day. It was incredible."
On the plane back to the United States, Brooks-Jones and other passengers were determined to find a way to thank their generous hosts and decided to start a scholarship fund. Before they landed, they collected $15,000 in pledges. Brooks-Jones contacted the Columbus Foundation to establish the fund, and she has been its No. 1 promoter ever since.
Since 2002, the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund has presented 134 college scholarships. The fund has grown to nearly $1.5 million.
Donations can be sent to the Columbus Foundation, 1234 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH, 43205. Checks should be made out to the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund, or go to http://www.columbusfoundation.org, click on "Become a Donor" near the bottom left, and click on "Give to a Fund" on the right. Put "Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund" in the fund name field.
For more on Brooks-Jones' story, see http://go.osu.edu/sbjones.
To set up an interview, contact Martha Filipic in the college communications office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-292-9833.