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Grief Counselor recalls working with youngest victims of 9/11

Published: Sep. 12, 2014 at 3:57 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2014 at 3:24 AM EDT
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Carol Marino-Devine helped 132 different children come to terms with the fact that their...
Carol Marino-Devine helped 132 different children come to terms with the fact that their parents would be gone forever. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, we all pause to remember the tragic events 13 years ago that changed the world.

We'll never forget those who lost their lives on 9/11/2011, from the victims on the planes and in the buildings, to the first responders.

Now, we're learning more about the youngest victims of 9/11 – through the stories of one local woman who devoted three years of her life to helping the children whose parents, or other relatives, were among those who were killed.

In the days after 9/11, scores of mental health professionals and grief counselors rushed directly to the hardest hit areas, helping people cope with the tragedy.

Carol Marino-Devine, who has a degree in child psychology from Campbell University, was called by the Arch Diocese of New York to assist. Carol helped 132 different children come to terms with the fact that their parents would be gone forever.

She planned to spend just three months in New York, but stayed on the job for three years. Marino-Devine said it was a life changing experience for her and the children she worked with.

"You have to tell these kids that Mom and Dad aren't coming back and they have to understand that," Marino-Devine said. "That's the hardest thing ever. Nobody should have to do that. I shouldn't have had to do that."

Marino-Devine recalls several sleepless nights working with her clients.

"They came to me, and cried to me, and I cried with them," Marino-Devine said. "There's no way you can't cry with them. That shows you're grieving with them."

Carol will never forget one little boy who lost it all.

"He went to school, kissed his family good bye," said teary-eyed Marino-Devine. "He lost his mother, he lost his father, he lost his sister, and he lost his grandfather. He came home to no one."

Carol became a motherly figure for that little boy and 132 other children as well.

"Those three years made me realize, I've never had nor will I ever have a bad day for the rest of my life," she said.

Now in Wilmington, Marino-Devine is living a life that will always revolve around kids, no matter how difficult the job.

"I think I can handle it now," she said with a deep breath. "I can do it. I'm glad to be here. That job made me strong."

Carol owns the Children's Corner Day Care Center off Van Campen Road in Wilmington.

As for the kids she helped after 9/11 – many still keep in touch with Carol.

Marino-Devine said that she recently received a letter from the previously mentioned boy who lost his family. She said he just recently got accepted to attend Princeton University.

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.