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A night to share progress after Irene

Project Hope to hold an open mic night for people to share their experiences since Irene

Project Hope Field Coordinator Mike Bigley talks with Gretch Sando, program coordinator for Project Hope Clinton/Essex.

Project Hope Field Coordinator Mike Bigley talks with Gretch Sando, program coordinator for Project Hope Clinton/Essex. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— A special “Open Mic” night will be held to acknowledge those who have recovered and raise awareness for the many still in need of assistance after Tropical Storm Irene.

The event, “A Little R&R—Tales of Recovery & Resiliency: Untold Stories of Tropical Storm Irene,” will be held Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. in Paul’s Bakery, 12108 NYS Route 9N.

The event is aimed at highlighting the experiences of those who rode out the storm and the tremendous aid provided by first-responders and community volunteers.

The floor will be opened to whoever feels compelled to speak, both invited guest speakers and spontaneous participants, telling their story in “open-mic” fashion.

The evening was constructed by Project Hope, a crisis counseling program created by the state to help in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. Services are provided through the Mental Health Association in Essex County and is available free of charge to residents across 13 counties that received presidential declarations of disaster, including Clinton and Essex.

Gretch Sando, program coordinator for Project Hope Clinton/Essex, said the event is an opportunity for people in the community to share their experiences, update their neighbors on the progress of rebuilding and a chance to see one another.

“Everyone was impacted or had a part in this and experienced the effects of the storm,” Sando said. “One reason we want to do this is to bring people together to share their stories, people don’t have to talk, they can just listen if they choose, maybe hearing from others will help the healing process.” 

Project Hope has been working in the community since the flood waters receded. In November, Project members started going door to door to bring aid to people who were in need but not asking for it.

“We’ve been working continously since November and we’re still finding people who weren’t reached before,” Sando aid. “People who hadn’t filed for FEMA aide or had but still weren’t receiving help. We’re approaching the one year anniversary of the storm and people are still dealing with the physical damage and the emotional repercussions of post traumatic stress syndrome.”

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