JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Ian Rubin had it all -- a job, a home, the love of his life. But suddenly his world collapsed around him.
The Brooklyn native is a man still healing after the loss of his fiancee, Joanne Rubino (pictured below). She was a tax attorney on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Rubin remembers that day like it was yesterday.
"I kissed her goodbye. She handed me a shopping list for dinner that night," he said. "I dropped her off and proceeded to go to the supermarket. When I got to the supermarket, I did my shopping, talked to her on the phone and told her that dinner would be ready when she got home."
"I got back in the car with the groceries and turned on a station called 1010 WINS, all news all the time," Rubin said. "I put it on because I enjoy the news. I heard that Tower One had been hit by an airplane. I got right back on the expressway, drove right back through the Brooklyn battery tunnel into Manhattan, and parked under the canopy of One World Trade Center."
"I left the car there, but when I arrived, there was a debris field from the airplane and human remains. It was a horrific scene," he said.
"I ran in there shouting her name, trying to call her. There was no power to the elevators and I ran around," Rubin said. "There was different groups of people surrounding on West End Avenue in Manhattan calling her name and she didn't respond. I didn't hear anything. Nothing. As I was still running around the building, that's when the second plane hit Tower Two. And then the first building started to rumble, and that's when the first building came down."
Rubino was one of many people missing after the terrorist attacks. Rubin posted her pictures on buildings, checked hospitals and morgues for any sign of her, but with no luck.
"The towers, the whole 9/11, it just turned my life inside out because we were supposed to be married Nov. 14 in New York," Rubin said. "So I lost my fiancee, I lost my best friend, and this is what the terrorist took from me."
"It was truly amazing to be there and see that, and my heart was just ripped out of my chest, you know?" Rubin said. "Very, very difficult to see human beings jumping out of windows 70, 80 stories up. Those folks had no alternative. They had to do that. They were going to burn to death, so they made a choice decision there and that's what they chose."
Rubin decided after dealing with post-traumatic stress from 9/11 he needed to move to Florida to be close to his daughter. So in 2005 he made the River City his home.
"I started working, but then I started getting out of breath," he said. "I went to Shands hospital and was diagnosed with environmental lung disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), from the toxins from the WTC. I had my disability from the WTC for 12 years. When I had my review down in Florida here, they denied me, which really kind of turned me in the direction of the mission because the mission was here to take me in when I could not work. I didn't have that check no more to support myself to pay bills."
That's when he turned to the City Rescue Mission. Rubin's been receiving aid from the group for two years and three months.
"They have a wonderful program here, a Christian program that will give you a foundation to start a new life actually and turn your life around," Rubin said.
He is currently looking for work as a plumber, having had 38 years of experience doing so, and possibly a job as a heavy equipment operator.
The City Rescue Mission also helped him enroll at Florida State College at Jacksonville.
"I really want to thank the donors for their contributions, because it's going to a good cause," Rubin said. "I want to straighten out a misconception. Not everybody in a homeless shelter is drug addicted and alcohol addicted. People are here, they might be here for that reason, but the majority of people here are just on hard times. They can't find work and they need some support and understanding, which City Rescue Mission will give you."
Rubin hopes to find work soon and start a new chapter in his life.
The City Rescue Mission is privately funded, so it relies on donations. It's been around since 1946, helping homeless people get back on their feet.
"We wash their clothes, give them clean clothes so they feel like a respected person when they leave," said Penny Kievet, interim executive director. "We call them our guests and that's exactly how they're treated when they come here."
To help the City Rescue Mission continue to make a difference, go to its website, crmjax.org.
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