Over the past few weeks, Project Hope counselors worked to prepare participants to transition out of the program. Gnirke said counselors have informed participants of what other counseling agencies and mental health services are available to them locally that can help continue the progress they’ve made with Project Hope.
“We know that recovery is not complete for all people,” Gnirke said. “For many people, this has been an economic blow that will take years and years to recover from. That reality is setting in for a lot of people. Many people are coming to the realization that they’re not going to be made whole economically, and that’s a tough thing to deal with.”
Long Beach Reach, one of the two Project Hope service providers in Long Beach, was awarded a grant of just over $240,000 from the state’s Sandy Social Services Block Grant, to continue some of the post-Sandy counseling work it did with Project Hope.
“It’s hard to leave with people still needing our help,” said Project Coordinator for Project Hope at Long Beach Reach, Deborah Barrett-Anderson, said regarding the close of the program. “Unfortunately, the rest of the world has moved on. [People in Long Beach] have been told ‘well the storms been over for a long time, get over it, forget about it.’ That’s not possible for a lot of people.”
Long Beach Reach’s new program, Step-by-Step, will not be as expansive as Project Hope, Barrett-Anderson said, but will still be able to assist Sandy survivors with issues they encounter. It will be able to provide case managers and support counseling for residents who still need help dealing with anxiety and stress brought on by the storm.
Project Hope at Long Beach reach ran a variety of counseling programs throughout the city over the past year-and-a-half, ranging from an after-school program for kids that emphasized counseling through creativity to specialized group counseling for seniors or limited English speakers.