9/11 Stories: Bill Lavin

Bill Lavin is a New Jersey firefighter and President of the 5-thousand member strong New Jersey FMBA, the Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association. As a New Jersey firefighter, Lavin responded on 9/11 in New York City, but his legacy is founding an organization called Where Angels Play, whose goal is to make sure, as Lavin puts it, “As long as you talk about them, they’re still here”. Shortly after the September 11th tragedy, the NJ FMBA got letters from a 3rd grade class in Mississippi, whose teacher was a niece of an NJ fire captain. The children wrote beautiful notes, thanking the firefighters for all they did. 4-and-a-half years later, the children’s school was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. New Jersey firefighters went down to Mississippi to help rebuild. It was there that seeds were sown for the organization Where Angels Play. Formed in 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut to honor the 20 elementary school students and 6 teachers who were murdered, Lavin decided to help build playgrounds in memory of each of the 26 massacred, each playground encompassing the personality of the different children. All of these 26 playgrounds were built in neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy, which hit just days before the Sandy Hook killings. Since then, Where Angels Play has built 55 playgrounds in tribute of family tragedies, all over the country and world. It all began with the tragedy of 9/11 and Lavin’s conviction to do good in the memory of the angels who were lost.