Our Founder's Message
Susan Esposito-Lombardo recounts the tragedy leading to the founding of A Caring Hand, The Billy Esposito Foundation.
The date was September 11th 2001, the time was 8:46am when a plane crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center, and changed our lives forever. The greatest man on earth, my father Billy Esposito, (aka Scoop) was taken unexpectedly from my family and all of his friends.
I will never forget the beautiful Tuesday morning in September when nothing seemed any different in our house from any other day. My dad kissed us all goodbye one by one as he always did early that morning before he left for his job at Cantor Fitzgerald where he was a Vice President and Partner. I was home alone getting ready for school, my mother was on her way to the beach and my brother was at work. Twenty minutes earlier, I had just spoken with my father and he had asked if I had seen his cell phone. I told him that I was certain that my mother had stolen it from him, as her phone was broken. I then told him to not worry about it and get back to work, make some money and that I loved him. I had no idea that those would be the last words I would ever have with my father.
Minutes later, I overheard a voice on my parent’s answering machine that something had happened in my father’s office and that we should turn on the television. With that I sprinted downstairs, turned on the television and could not believe my eyes and ears. My heart felt like it was about to jump out of my chest and I felt a strong sense of nausea as I immediately reached for the phone and dialed my father’s office. The response was one busy signal after another when I then thought of calling his cell phone, momentarily not remembering that we had just had a conversation that he did not have it with him. I then unsuccessfully attempted to contact the rest of my immediate family.
What was happening? What seemed like another ordinary day in our lives turned out to be nothing of the sort. At that moment, my mother came through the door hysterically crying followed by friends, my boyfriend, and my brother. We all sat glued to the television, hoping for a call from my father to tell us he had escaped or to wake up from a terrible nightmare. Moments later we watched his building collapse to the ground and me, my mom, and brother felt our lives collapse to the ground as well as we clung together and cried uncontrollably in trying to deal with this unimaginable tragedy.
My father started his career on Wall Street when he was 16 years old and it came to an unexpected halt at age 51. He was a loyal, ambitious and team oriented man that worked very hard to get to the top so that he could provide for his family. There are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the type of husband, father, uncle, cousin, son, friend and colleague he was to all of us. He was very unique and had a gift of making everyone around him feel special. He lived by a motto that his mother taught him, “If you have it, you give it.” My father had strong beliefs to be kind to everyone, love one another and believe in yourself. The most important thing to my father was his family as we were his whole world, there was nothing we could or could not do without one another.
My family and I decided to start the organization in memory of my father. His major passion was education, as he did not have the means growing up to obtain a proper education. He always told us how important education was and he made sure he was able to provide us the opportunity he was never able to experience himself. He was also very fond of children and it pains me that he will never be able to meet his grandchildren. Therefore, our mission began with the goal of financial assistance for educational opportunities to children who experienced the loss of a parent. We soon learned we needed to do more in our own community and began serving families directly in 2008. Contributions from all of you have helped my father’s legacy live on and help touch so many other children that have experienced the tragedy of losing a parent as my brother and I have experienced. No matter whether child or teen or the cause of death, we want to insure my father’s major passion lives on through as many children as possible. It is our way of telling him we miss him and making sure we continue his way of making so many people feel his wonderful presence. I hope you will join us in helping this happen. I love you daddy.