Lara Griffin began working on First Free’s Communications team this past December. She runs our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and she’ll also soon be handling the weekly email newsletters. Lara and her husband, Jonathan, met in 2005 when they both lived in New York City. They’ve lived in Rockford, Jonathan’s hometown, since 2015. They have three kids: Allegra, 9; Salome, 7; and Olivia, 5. What follows is from an interview Jan. 15.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Lara Griffin walked to class from her dorm room in Manhattan’s garment district.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was only several weeks into her term at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The teacher arrived at the 9 a.m. class with unusual news.
“There’s some weird stuff on the radio. Something about a plane crashing into a building.”
Lara assumed it was a small plane somewhere. Then a student came in.
“Everybody needs to go to the auditorium.”
There, live news coverage was being projected onto big screens. Within minutes, the students watched the World Trade Center’s South Tower collapse. Thousands of people were dying — three miles from where they stood.
School officials brought out a bank of landline telephones for students to call home. Most people did have cellphones by then, but the networks were overwhelmed. Lara went to her dorm room and sent a quick email home.