The United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area on Friday convened a crisis response meeting for local health and human service providers to discuss the needs for those affected by the tragic events in Herkimer and Mohawk.
Thirty people were in attendance for the meeting, including Congressman Richard Hanna, state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and representatives for state Senator James Seward, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Assemblyman Marc Butler.
Health and human service groups in attendance included the Red Cross, Hospice and Palliative Care, the Herkimer Area Resource Center, the Resource Center of Independent Living, the Boy Scouts, Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, the Neighborhood Center, the Salvation Army, the YWCA and Catholic Charities of Herkimer County.
United Way Executive Director Brenda Episcopo said the United Way hosted the event as a way to bring the organizations together to share what resources can be made available to the community at a time of need.
“The United Way has a good handle on the community and were aware of who does what so it was natural for us to bring organizations together to share ideas,” said Episcopo. “It’s also important for us to work together so that no services become duplicated.”
When a tragic situation occurs many first responder teams and other short-term services such as the Red Cross are the ones who assist those in need, but when it comes to long-term help, its the community service organizations that provide assistance.
“The United Way is focusing on assisting those in need of long-term recovery,” said Episcopo. “This might mean focusing on the families of victims that experience a sudden loss of financial means or overtime are left with unpaid expenses and other members of the community may have a different response to trauma further down the road. This is why the United Way is convening service providers to work together to help those in need in the most efficient way possible.”
Episcopo said the most important thing people can do at a time like this is to talk about it, even if a person wasn’t directly affected by a traumatic event.
“People need to talk about what happened, even if they were not there because everyone has a general need to process what has happened,” she said. “One thing everyone can do is check in with one another and be a good listener. If someone has a more pronounced need there are counseling services available through the community and emergency crisis services for those that need immediate help.”
Another important part of the healing process is to make sure the community is healing as a whole. “There has been interest for awareness campaigns and bringing people together and that’s a great way to keep the community together, as well as a way to keep area businesses from being negatively affected,” said Episcopo.
Page 2 of 2 - She added media coverage is also another factor that contributes to the healing process.
“There’s a general need from the community to want to know what’s going on and when the media provides information it really helps people to feel better and understand what is going on.”
The next step is to share and compile all the information gathered and set a date for the next meeting, said Episcopo.
“It was great to see 30 people who really wanted to work together and help the community and it really is a testament that shows Herkimer County really cares for it’s community,” she said.