On September 11, 2001, ten-month-old Jake Campbell lost his loving mother due to a murderous act of hate. Jill Maurer Campbell was the executive assistant to the founder and CEO of Baseline Financial Services, which was headquartered at the World Trade Center. She was very talented, and was admired by all. With the help of tremendous family love, Jake has made the most of his life. Jill would be incredibly proud.
Today, Jake is a senior at the University of Michigan and is enrolled in the Ross School of Business. During his young life, Jake has invested a lot of time and effort to “immerse” himself in the 9/11 discussion. “It’s a part of me, but I just kind of want to own it. I have to accept it, and it’s hard.”[i] That immersion has included supporting families who grieve after catastrophic events. For example, Jake is on the Board of the September 11th Education Trust. He recently travelled with the team to visit with the families of those lost in the horrific shooting that took place at Parkland High School just outside of Miami. Immersion has also included working with not-for-profit organizations. This summer, Jake travelled to Iowa City at the invitation of AmeriCorps to help with Donor Relations for an organization known as “Table to Table.” According to Jake, they coordinate food rescue and distribution routes that connect local farmers and stores with surplus food with pantries, meal sites, and community organizations serving those in need.[ii]
A side benefit of Jake’s summer experience was also that he was in proximity to his father’s family in Iowa. After graduation in May, Jake plans to either pursue work in the entrepreneurial arena of food & beverage, or continue to work closely with non-profits that “make an impact.”[iii]
It Took a Village
Jake’s admittance into highly competitive Michigan speaks highly of his upbringing. Obviously, Jake did not have the typical American childhood. Before he reached the age of one, he suffered the substantial loss of maternal love and support. According to Jake, he was “raised by a village,” but primarily by Jill’s parents and her sister, Linda. Jake credits his grandmother, Jeanne, as having the greatest influence on his life. Additionally, his accomplishments are all the more impressive given that both his father and grandfather passed away during Jake’s formative high school years. His dad, Steve, a NYPD officer, died from a heart attack. His grandfather, Joe, a retired Captain in the FDNY died due to complications from esophageal cancer. Jake cites the conditions Joe developed while working at the WTC, in post-9/11 recovery efforts as an FDNY officer, as the reason for his grandfather’s passing in 2014.[iv] [The photo above is of Jake with Jeanne and Linda at a Michigan Wolverines game.]
Jake is not shy about speaking his mind. While a sophomore at Michigan, he penned a letter to the New York Times. On September 11, 2019, Jake talked of his relationship with his grandparents, and of the profound impact the loss of his grandfather had on him. Jake shared that Joe’s death was “the first time I struggled emotionally with what had happened. . . . Missing my grandpa made me finally realize how much I had missed with my mom.”[v]
In his letter to the Times, Jake additionally wrote about his gratitude to the people who helped him make the best out of a very difficult situation. Specifically, he thanked his family “who when faced with their darkest hour took on the challenge of raising a baby and ran with it; and, for my mom, who went to work to help make a better life for her son and never came home.” Finally, he added that “I can’t change what has happened to me. I can only respond to it, and I owe it to some people to make the best out of my situation.”[vi]
Thank you, Jake. It looks like you’re doing that quite well.
The all-encompassing story of Baseline Financial Services is portrayed in the book UNDAUNTED which was published by Koehler Books on September 11, 2021 — the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.