Grace Young packaged airline food for first-class passengers at Reagan National Airport for 35 years and was among the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
She hasn't been able to find a job since then, but last week she received $500 from a charitable fund set up three weeks ago to provide assistance to National Airport workers after the attacks, which caused the airport's three-week closure.
"It wasn't enough, but it was more than I had and I'm really thankful for it," Young said of the cash grant. "I really needed it."
But Malik Karimi, an airport security screener who lost his job after working for six years at National, was not so lucky.
The September 11th Fund provides cash assistance -- from $300 to $3,900 -- only to workers at National Airport who lost their jobs up to a year after Sept. 11, 2001. Karimi missed the cutoff date to qualify for assistance, getting laid off on Sept. 30, 2002.
"I was laid off as an effect of 9/11," he said, after a visit to the fund's modest Arlington office. "I don't know why they have it set up that way with the anniversary."
As the initial pain of the terrorist attacks begins to fade, the line between who does and who doesn't receive money raised by charity has become difficult to discern. In the weeks following the fall of the twin towers, the September 11th Fund raised $518 million from private donations to the United Way of New York and New York Community Trust.
The fund's managers first quickly focused on providing cash assistance to the families of those who were killed. Now well past the anniversary of the attacks, the fund says it is trying to help others who were economically hurt by the attacks -- a task that is not always easy.
"In the early days, you help as many people in as many ways as you can," said Jeanine Moss, spokeswoman for the fund. "As time goes on, you have to really define populations you're going to help, and even more, the kind of help they're going to get."
The fund got a late start in providing funds to National Airport workers because it had trouble deciding who should get assistance, and it suffered from logistical problems. Three local nonprofits, Workforce Organizations for Regional Collaboration and two affiliates of the AFL-CIO, banded together and received a grant worth $444,000 from the September 11th Fund last fall, but they had difficulty finding office space.
Earlier this month, they opened an office in Crystal City and in donated space above National Airport's Terminal A.
National was the only airport shut down for three weeks following the terrorist attacks and only re-opened in phases to full capacity, the funders argued, and therefore its workers were affected more adversely by the attacks than were other airports'.
Moss likened the airport to the neighborhood south of Canal Street in New York City, which was also closed off after the terrorist attacks as construction crews and firefighters dug through the site. Moss said the fund also provided money to workers in that district.
The fund cannot help everyone, Moss said. There are "people in the tourism business who lost jobs in Las Vegas" who might argue their layoffs were tied to the terrorist attacks, she said. "As a charity, you have limited funds, even though it seems like a lot. The government has a great deal more funds to help people and to help entire populations rebuild."
But several former airport workers said the fund's strict requirements prevent assistance from flowing to those who were called back to work after they suffered long furloughs and those who recently lost their jobs.
"Most of our people don't seem to qualify," said Pam Terry, a US Airways employee at National and president of the Communication Workers of America Local 2000, which represented 700 customer-service agents at Washington's three airports before the terrorist attacks and now, after layoffs, represents 400 workers.
Terry said many of the union's 150 members at National don't qualify for fund grants because they were furloughed after the attacks but then called back to work over the course of last year. "These people who were furloughed for so long were at the very bottom of the pay scale and spent months on unemployment," Terry said.
The fund only helps workers who are unemployed or "underemployed," meaning they are not making as much money as they did before the terrorist attacks.
Abdul Kamus, director of the Ethiopian Community Development Council in Washington, a nonprofit organization that assists recently unemployed security screeners at National Airport find jobs, said more than half of the 55 former security screeners he knows at National will not qualify for money.
"It doesn't stand to reason," Kamus said. "I'm arguing to them that there are people who lost their jobs at the airport three weeks ago."
Orginally, the fund proposed to help workers who lost their jobs between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 11, 2002, but it was extended for the full year, said Moss, the fund's spokeswoman. The fund decided to expand the eligibility to help more people, she said, but it was not designed to help all airport screeners.
"Airport screeners lost their jobs at every airport across the country," Moss said. "It isn't possible to help all the people in America who had some impact of 9/11. We had to help fewer people who were more directly affected."
The September 11th Fund has spent $392 million of the $518 million it raised.
The fund's 9-11 Airport Worker Resource Center, located in an undecorated Crystal City office building with donated furniture, has been overwhelmed with appointments since it opened three weeks ago, said it's director, Paige Parker.
In the lobby, Karimi, the former screener, ran into a former co-worker he used to supervise at National's C checkpoint.
Over the past several months, Karimi has applied for work at a grocery store and a movie theater and for a job as a Metro electrical technician. "The list goes on, the jobs I've applied for," said Karimi, 28, who lives with his mother.