By Kathianne Boniello
They are just teens from the Cross Island YMCA in Bellerose, but Monday night they served as international diplomats to bring a message of hope from Canada to Queens, eight months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The message came in the form of a panel of stained glass created by teenagers in the YMCA program in Ottawa, Canada. It was presented to the Engine Co. 313/Ladder Co. 164 firehouse in Douglaston this week by teens from the Bellerose YMCA.
Firefighter Ed Murray of Ladder Co. 164 was one of about 15 firefighters on hand for the presentation.
“The support we’ve received has been incredible,” Murray said. “We’ll never forget it.”
Capt. Bill Canners of Ladder Co. 164 said the stained glass artwork, which is several feet long and about two feet wide, “will be displayed prominently in this firehouse for years to come.”
Brent Parris and Shava Cureton, two teens in the Cross Island YMCA program, presented the artwork to the firehouse.
Parris said the actions of city firefighters, 343 of whom died during the rescue effort when the Twin Towers collapsed, “made me not only proud to be an American but proud to be a New Yorker.”
Taking part in the ceremony was a way to express appreciation for the work of the Fire Department since the terrorist attacks, Cureton said.
“I feel glad that I’m finally able to congratulate the firefighters for the things they did for the city on Sept. 11,” Cureton said.
It was the luck of the Irish that brought the artwork to Douglaston, Murray said.
“We marched in the St. Patrick’s parade in Manhattan,” he said. “The next morning we flew to Boston to march in their St. Patrick’s Day parade.”
Murray said about 75 city firefighters went to Boston to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day event there last month, including about 17 firefighters from Engine Co. 313/Ladder Co. 164.
On the flight to Boston, Murray said, Ladder Co. 164 Firefighter Bob Reilly had a conversation with an executive of the YMCA, who inquired where the firefighters were going.
“She saw that we were all in uniform, and she told us about this project,” Murray said of the stained glass panel. “It will always be in the firehouse — always.”
Kim Parris, adviser of the Cross Island YMCA’s teen club, said the program’s teens were eager to make the presentation.
“We just jumped at the chance,” she said.
Firefighter Joe LeDeoux of Engine Co. 313, a 15-year member of the FDNY, said he and his colleagues were floored by the public’s response to firefighters after Sept. 11.
“The outpouring of the people, it’s nonstop seven, eight months down the road,” he said. “It’s really nice for the kids to put their time and effort into something like this.”
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.