Nassau County Executive Edward P, Mangano announced today the creation of 240 temporary job openings, for people to be trained to assist those still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The jobs would last somewhere between 6 weeks and nine months.
The job creation is part of a nearly $1.8 million grant awarded to Nassau County’s Office of Mental Health earlier this month to provide counseling and referral services to those impacted by Sandy’s devastation. Applicants need not be licensed professionals. The New York State Office of Mental Health Services will provide applicants with the proper training.
This Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program has been dubbed Project Hope, and is similar to programs established after September 11th and Hurricanes Irene and Lee. It is funded by an $8 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and SAMSHA to be shared by each county impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy impacted more residents in Nassau than in any other County
The crisis counseling services will be free to those still suffering from the aftereffects of Super Storm Sandy, and will be administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health Services, in conjunction with the County’s mental health agency, for a minimum of six weeks – and a possible extension to nine months.
Nassau’s $1.8 million share of the grant will be equally distributed to 12 local social service-type agencies, which have historically contracted with Nassau’s Mental Health office. Each agency would be tasked with hiring, or extending the hours of, 14 workers to be crisis counselors and two from each to be team leaders.
The twelve agencies currently tabbed for Project Hope are:
- MHA of Nassau County
- Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling
- South Shore Child Guidance
- South Nassau Communities Hospital
- Long Beach Reach
- Long Beach Medical Center
- North Shore Child and Family Guidance
- NuHealth aka NUMC
- Youth Environmental Services (YES)
Once trained in crisis management, counselors will identify those needing support or referrals to a wide array of services and then help steer those individuals to appropriate resources and care. They will help those who have yet to receive financial assistance they’re due, by walking them through the often complicated reimbursement application process. Counselors will listen to the victims and help them deal with stress and anxiety in the aftermath of the storm.
“The devastation of Hurricane Sandy will be felt by many residents long after the debris is cleared and power restored to our neighborhoods,” Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano said. “I’m encouraged that the state and federal government continue to recognize the needs of Nassau residents. The employment program will assist recently unemployed residents while we continue the process of rebuilding our economy.”
Dr. James Dolan, director of the Nassau County Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services (the Office), noted that “the enormity of the personal challenges and material loss experienced has overwhelmed the usual coping capacities of most people.”
The program encourages the use of trained paraprofessional staff - preferably people who live and work in the communities they will serve. But, crisis counselors also typically reflect the cultural makeup of the community served.
Crisis counselors help survivors identify, label, and express emotions; adjust to the disaster and losses; make decisions and take action.
Lisa Murphy, Commissioner of Nassau County’s Department of Human Services, which oversees the county’s mental health office, said “We are prepared to help with, and address, any of our resident’s needs. Through the sincerity and effectiveness of our efforts, together, I believe we can achieve a full recovery.”
According to state guidelines. full-time Crisis Counselors would be paid $20 an hour and receive vehicle mileage reimbursement; Crisis Counselor/Team Leaders would earn $30 an hour and project coordinators would make between $20 and $45 an hour. These rates can, however, be modified by the provider agency.
Dr. Dolan, who is overseeing the Project Hope program, said counselors would “engage the client and help to put them on a path to recovery. They would do this by connecting those individuals to services and resource that will support their recovery.
If you are experiencing adverse reactions to the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, or are feeling depressed, overly anxious, helpless or hopeless, please call: 1-800-LIFENET.