The Salvation Army and Mental Health Association of NYC's 9/11 Healing and Remembrance Support Center

The Salvation Army Greater New York Division and the Mental Health Association of
NYC (MHA-NYC) are grateful for the opportunity to submit this Concept Paper
detailing our plans for a Healing and Remembrance Family Support Center for families of 9/11 victims, World Trade Center survivors, first responders, displaced residents, chaplains, and 9/11 volunteers in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2011. 

Both The Salvation Army and MHA-NYC have been there for the 9/11 community since September 11th, 2001.  The Salvation Army Greater New York Division was the first relief agency to reach Ground Zero, reporting within a half-hour of the first plane crash. In the aftermath, The Salvation Army provided the following critical functions:

  • Emotional & Spiritual care at Ground Zero, the DisasterAssistance
    Service Center (DASC) & Family Assistance Center at their various locations, and at the morgue;
  • Food & Hydration services at Ground Zero and at the DASC;
  • Disaster Case Management in the short term at the DASC and long term until 2006 at various locations. We were the last agency to "close down" our 9/11 case management program;
  • Job Training through our involvement with F.E.G.S.;
  • Business Development by contracting with local businesses to provide food and other services at Ground Zero;
  • Donations Management initially at 14th Street, which became an outdoor warehouse due to the large amount of donations, then moved to a hangar at JFK;
  • Volunteer Management of Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers from across the country deployed to NYC.  All were processed at The Salvation Army Greater New York Division headquarters.

MHA-NYC has served as a “voice” for the mental health needs of those affected by the disaster since the attacks.  Now, thanks to a grant from the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, MHA-NYC and its partners have launched a unique mental health program called the 9/11 Healing and Remembrance Program to assist the 9/11 affected community as they travel and participate in the 10th anniversary commemorative activities. The 9/11 Healing and Remembrance Program includes: a comprehensive Web site; a 24-hour hotline staffed with experienced mental health
professionals; travel and lodging assistance to Arlington, VA, New York, NY and
Shanksville, PA; and Family Support Centers, located at each of the three commemoration sites. The Salvation Army Greater New York Division is the lead partner for MHA-NYC’s Family Support Center in lower Manhattan. 

The Family Support Center will be housed in The Salvation Army’s Centennial
Memorial Temple, located on West 14th Street.  The Family Support Center will be a private, media-free, welcoming space that will offer a range of supportive mental health, spiritual and other mind/body services for World Trade Center survivors, victims’ family members, displaced residents, and 9/11 volunteers, chaplains and first
responders as they participate in 10th anniversary events.  The space, which is
completely disabilities-accessible, includes a 1,200 seat auditorium where the National
Memorial Service from Ground Zero will be streamed live.  The Family Support Center will be open from 8am to 1pm on September 11th and will provide an option for anyone
who has concerns about security, or who cannot stand for long periods of time, or for any other reason does not want to be part of the Memorial Service at the World Trade Center site.  The Family Support Center will provide them with a place to come together in a quiet space where they can watch the Memorial Service live, share stories and be with others who understand the experience of 9/11. We are pleased to include 9/11 volunteers because there have been few opportunities for them to receive support services in the past, and we feel they will be a valuable asset as we work to encourage volunteerism in the future.

We estimate approximately 280 volunteers will be assisting with the Family Support
Center in lower Manhattan.  Volunteers will include chaplains, disaster and mental health volunteers from throughout the tri-state area, child care volunteers from the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, representatives from the
World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, and volunteers
focusing on mind-body supports such as acupuncture, massage and Reiki, as well
as Pet Therapy.  In addition, we will have Salvation Army trained CERT volunteers providing security, Salvation Army staff volunteering time to help coordinate the events of the day, Medical Corps nurses, and culinary students providing hydration and food service. All volunteers will be carefully tracked and documented. We will require that all volunteers sign an official Salvation Army/MHA-NYC sign-in sheet so that there will be a permanent record of those who served on the day.   

The Healing and Remembrance Family Support Center in lower Manhattan is being promoted in a wide variety of ways including:  

  • Website www.9-11healingandremembrance.org
  • Public Service Announcement being shown on NBC and ABC television stations
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Press releases through Goodman Media
  • Focus groups with 9/11 family organizations, 9/11 survivor groups, 9/11 volunteers, FDNY, NYPD, rescue and recovery groups Newsletter (we have also asked the 9/11 family and survivor groups to send out newsletters on our behalf)
  • Google 9/11 listserv
  • Salvation Army’s national media outlets, both internal and external
  • NYC VOAD, the umbrella organization for all volunteer agencies active in
    disaster

This anniversary will be a difficult time for those who have suffered losses and for our community as a whole. It is our goal to assist in making the remembrance process a bit easier. We aim to foster healing through supports that members of the 9/11 community have indicated might be most helpful.  In addition, following the 10th anniversary, we will convene additional focus groups made up victims’ family members, rescue and recovery workers, 9/11 volunteers and World Trade Center survivors, and will ask them what they felt was most helpful in managing the anniversary.  We will use this information to make recommendations to smaller community/neighborhood groups as
they formulate their own 9/11 remembrance days in the coming years.