“It really is a resource for whatever kind of services they need,” said Sharon Player, director of public affairs at Long Beach Medical Center. “Whether it’s about insurance, whether it’s about FEMA, whether it’s about healthcare, whether it’s about mental wellness, they have a lot of information to share.”
Long Beach was seen as a prime location in need of Project Hope because the city was one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy. City officials say around 30 percent of Long Beach residents still remain displaced. In the beginning, Snipp said that volunteers went door-to-door to offer their services because the city was in such disarray. But just because it has been months since the storm, doesn’t mean that people don’t have plenty to worry about.
“I think everyone is just stressed about the future of their homes,” said Billy Kupferman, president of the Long Beach Surfer’s Association. “People want to go home and get back to normal, and they can’t yet. It’s become a common theme — where is the money going to come from and what does the future look like?”
Snipp said that talking to someone helps people deal with these stressful times. Some people are burdened by financial stress, while some now get anxious when a storm approaches, said Snipp. But regardless of the cause of the stress, retelling your story or talking about what is bothering you helps more than people realize.
“From retelling it and retelling, we hope that they become, not desensitized, but less stressed about it and not hold it in,” said Snipp.
Snipp says that Long Beach residents have been very receptive to their programs. Counselors meet people for one-on-one sessions in their home, or even at a coffee shop. They have an information table set up every day at the recreation center. And some local businesses have held stress management education sessions for their employees.
“Sandy had a tremendous effect on virtually anyone who lives in this city,” said Gordon Tepper, director of communications for the city. “I think it’s important that this service is available to residents.”