After terrorists attacked on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Dick Stives of Windsor said he spent two hours in anguish about whether his brother Dave Stives had survived.
Dave Stives, then an equipment technician for the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, was working in the basement of the World Trade Center.
"It was a scary two hours," said Dick Stives, one of 45 volunteers at Saturday's at Foothill Regional Park in Windsor. "It took two hours for us to find out he was safe."
Like Stives, many at Saturday's inaugural event said they were there because they wanted to be part of the tapping again into the tragic events that changed everything forever.
"We're here for the aspect of a "Day of Service" for Sept. 11," said Matt Windrem of Windsor, who came with wife Amy and son Ben, 2 1/2. "It was the idea of doing something for the greater good."
North Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire, event organizer, said the "Day of Service" had three goals.
"First, we want to remember the thousands who lost their lives," McGuire said.
"Second, we want to reflect on the service and dedication of the police and firefighters and thousands of others who came together to donate blood, give money and help others in any way they could," he said.
"Third, we want to give back," said McGuire, adding he intends to repeat the event every year on the second Saturday of September.
An 8 a.m. service led by Central Sonoma County Fire Chief Doug Williams included a moment of silence and a tribute to those who lost their lives -- especially the 343 firefighters killed in the attacks and during the rescue efforts.
"That's a number that a lot of people recognize," said Williams, whose fire district administration was formed Sept 1 as a combination of Windsor and Rincon Valley fire districts.
After the service, the volunteers split into three groups -- planting 11 Coast Llve Oaks and Valley Oaks, pruning vegetation around the park's ponds and buttressing retaining walls along the trails of the 210-acre park, a former ranch.
"A lot of it is just infilling to mimic the natural mosaic," said Jen Stanfield, stewardship coordinator for Sonoma County Regional Parks.
"There's a lot of diversity here -- we have irises and orchids and all kinds of plants," Stanfield said. "We want to keep intact the remnants of the native oak woodlands."
Patch photographer Ken Scarboro of Windsor came to Saturday's event wearing his New York Police Department Aviation T-shirt.
NYPD became a client of Scarboro's employer, Wescam in Santa Rosa, after Sept. 11, said Scarboro, whose company makes high tech surveillance equipment used from police helicopters, airplanes and other law enforcement and military aircraft.
"The NYPD needed equipment for their cameras to downlink imagery," Scarboro said. "We loaned it to them."
Scarboro said the New York police had been using one of Wescam's competitors at the time, but switched to Wescam after the 9/11 equipment loan.
"Our competitor had said to them, 'Send us a purchase order,'" Scarboro said. "We just gave it to them."