Centel Media™, a New York City based company, supports its home state during the anniversary of September 11.
The employees at Centel Media™ share in mourning the tragedy that struck New York more than a decade ago. As part of a company with deep roots in New York City, they feel the cloud that hangs over lower Manhattan this time each year. In remembrance, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Cola, CEO of Centel Media™, as he recounted his life altering experiences on Sept. 11, 2001.
Cola wasn't supposed to be at the World Trade Center that day. It was by chance he was called into the South Tower for a business meeting. But, by 8:46 a.m., none of that mattered. Everything had changed.
He was among the sea of people struggling to evade the smoke as it devoured the city streets. But, through the darkened haze of dust blanketing everything in sight, Cola saw the true heart of New York City rise to the surface. People, from all backgrounds, placed their lives on the line to help in any way they could. Ordinary civilians splashed water over blinded policemen, trying to wash the dust from their eyes. Store runners opened their doors, sheltering all those hoping to gain refuge from the smoke. Taxi drivers battled the chaos, driving off-duty police officers downtown so they could aid in the rescue.
New York stood as one.
There was much sorrow on that day. Friends and family members were lost, and the skyline of New York City would never be the same. But, despite all that was taken, something was gained. New York grew stronger as a city.
No matter where Cola went after the Sept. 11 attacks, the reaction to the day was one of grief and heartache. Eventually, he found himself in the heart of Philadelphia at the Lucentra Corporation, but he realized he longed to return to New York City. After a short, but prosperous stint at Lucentra, Cola resigned and purchased Centel Media™, an Empire State company.
No matter where Cola resided as CEO, his employees and staff knew about his deep love for New York City and how Sept. 11 forever changed his life. “Jack always was very intuitive about his position as CEO of our company, but on Sept. 11, you can tell he is somewhat despondent.” Louis Giglianno, chairman of Accolade International, said. “New York and the memorial become his main priority, as they should be.” For Cola and for many others, New York is and always will be home. The destruction of its skyline doesn’t change that.
“When Cola came to Centel Media™, I immediately noticed his happiness to be back in New York. As Sept. 11 grew closer, I watched my friend and colleague really define himself as a New Yorker...a proud New Yorker,” Danielle Steffenhagen, president and chief operations officer of Centel Media™, said. “For the first time, I saw the importance of being an Empire State corporation.”
Both Cola, Steffenhagen and Vice President and Chief Information Technology Officer Ariana Guarino noticed the sincere respect demonstrated by Centel Media™ employees and New Yorkers each year on Patriot's Day. They’ve truly realized the impact of that day and how it should be remembered.
“Sept. 11 comes with horrific memories. Being in New York and working with those who acknowledge what reliving that day is like is invaluable to me,” Guarino said. “I think it has a big impact because everyone here either lost someone or knows someone that did--the atmosphere of New York is entirely different.”
Cola agreed and emphasized how proud he is to be a New Yorker. “We are New Yorkers, we come together in time of crisis. We help one another at all costs.” Cola said. “We lay down our petty differences and stand together in the face of tyranny. It’s what we do.”
Steffenhagen did not have the same experiences as Guarino and Cola, who were raised in the New York area, but has strong feelings, nevertheless. “We are an Empire State company and we are proud of who we are,” Steffenhagen said. “Even though I grew up in California, I stand by New York City in remembrance of the people lost during the Sept. 11 events.”
Everyone at Centel Media™ believes Patriot's Day should be a time to reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and to remember the men and women who lost their lives. It’s an opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police. This day serves as tribute to all the bravery Cola witnessed during those fateful hours 12 years ago--a bravery that embodies the people of New York.
About Centel Media™:Centel Media™ is a PROUD Empire State Corporation, headquartered out of New York City, NY.
Vice President & Chief Information Technology Officer.Centel Media™.
President and Chief Operations Officer,Centel Media™.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
Chief Executive Officer,Centel Media™.