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Client Story: The Ongoing Impact of 9/11
Ms. S is a 50-year-old woman who worked as a Local 78 Asbestos Handler at Ground Zero for over 600 hours from September 19, 2001 to November 18, 2002. As a result of her work at the World Trade Center site, Ms. S suffers from 9/11-related musculoskeletal and respiratory injures that prevent her from working in the asbestos industry. As a single mother raising two young adolescent children, Ms. S had to turn to less physically demanding work as a street vendor. Her ability to support her family has been reduced significantly, and she has reached out to NYDIS for assistance with rental arrears and relocation expenses during periods of 9/11-related disability.

Ms. S has been working with 9/11 case managers at Asociación Tepeyac de New York, an agency funded by NYDIS for the past three years to provide 9/11 case management services. In addition, Ms. S has been actively pursuing a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits since 2004 and is near resolving this claim. While waiting for compensation for loss of earnings and medical care for her 9/11 related disabilities, Ms. S obtained a vending license from the City of New York, and she works as often as possible.

This year, thanks to funding from the NYC 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable, Ms. S will be able to work more regularly and independently as a licensed street vendor. Ms. S. purchased a fruit vending cart with running water that meets Department of Health and Mental Hygiene standards. Including this year’s grant, Ms. S has been awarded $20,083.39 in cash assistance through the NYC 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable. This assistance has been a bridge to long-term recovery and more financial stability for Ms. S and her family.

Please help our clients! Donate now to the NYC 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable: click here
:: NYDIS Launches Disaster Chaplain Certification - Sign-Up Now!

Starting August 1st, NYDIS will begin taking registration for its Disaster Chaplain training program. Upon successful completion of training, participants will be certified to serve as a NYDIS Disaster Chaplain when activated. The 16-hour training includes a pre-requisite course in FEMA Incident Command, and four 4-hour units of training in disaster spiritual care, chaplaincy operations, self-care, and mental health assessment and referral. Sign-up now for sessions that will be scheduled in coming months. The course will cost $400, including 16 hours of instruction, a training manual, a response credential, response uniform, and a background check. NYDIS training faculty are also available to teach all four units of the curriculum to any community in the United States. This curriculum was developed through a grant from Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and will be made available through ERD to clergy and spiritual caregivers throughout the Episcopal Church.

For more information, contact:
Ruth Yoder Wenger, Community Outreach & Training
:: NYDIS Offers Trainings for Houses of Worship as Emergency Rest Centers

Calling all New York City houses of worship that would like to become NYDIS Emergency Rest Centers (ERCs) - sign-up now! ERCs are houses of worship that volunteer, in partnership with NYDIS, to be activated to serve the public by offering hospitality and safe haven during emergencies. During a heat wave, for example, your house of worship could serve your neighborhood as a cooling center – or, in the case of an evacuation, it could serve as a waiting center. NYDIS offers a 90-minute orientation for senior religious leaders from interested houses of worship, including a question and answer forum with NYDIS staff, as a prerequisite to the training for their ERC managers and volunteers. The orientation is followed by a 3-hour training for volunteers and volunteer managers for each ERC. NYDIS’s ERC program works in collaboration with volunteers from World Faith (a multi-faith student organization at NYU) and with the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM). 10 houses of worship are scheduled for training in August.

For more information about ERCs, view the ERC Program Profile: click here

For more information, contact:
Ruth Yoder Wenger, Community Outreach & Training
:: NYDIS Welcomes a New AmeriCorps*VISTA Member at MCN

On August 4, Elyse Peters-Arnold joined the NYDIS AmeriCorps*VISTA program to serve her 12-month term as the Outreach & Preparedness Coordinator at the Muslim Consultative Network (MCN). Elyse will be helping the diverse Arab, South Asian, and Muslim communities in New York City prepare for natural and man-made disasters and deal with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant backlash. A Religion Studies graduate at Denison University, she just completed a highly prestigious Hindi/Urdu language program at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India.

For more information, contact:
Amber Gibson, VISTA Leader
:: NYDIS Staff Featured Speakers at U of Albany Extreme Events III Conference

On August 6, the Extreme Events III: The Three Day Window conference was held at the University of Albany School of Public Health’s East Campus in Rensselaer, New York. The conference was attended by over 80 religious leaders and community health officials and researchers. Executive Director Peter Gudaitis and Community Outreach and Training Coordinator Pasto Ruth Yoder Wenger were two of the featured speakers during the day-long conference. Gudaitis addressed the critical roles and responsibilities faith leaders play when assisting the public in preparing for and responding to extreme events. Wenger addressed how religious leaders should respond to the needs of the people traumatized by a disastrous event and how to re-build community strengths during emergencies.

For More Information Contact:
Colleen at 518.486.7921 or
:: NYC 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable Updates
  • NYC 9/11 In-Service Training for Case Workers
    In-Service Training is required for case workers who have never presented a case at the Roundtable, and is recommended as a refresher for experienced case workers who have previously presented cases. All training sessions take place at NYDIS (map).
:: NYC 9/11 Recovery Resources

A comprehensive list of news, updates and resources for 9/11 victims and injured recovery workers, updated weekly:
:: Recovery Resources for Other NYC Area Disasters
:: Governor Paterson Signs Bill to Extend WTC Disability Benefits to 2010

Among a package of bills that Governor Paterson signed into law last week was one that extends eligibility for disability benefits for people who participated in the rescue, clean-up, and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11 until 2010. The governor stated, “It is imperative that we continue to provide those workers who face health consequences from their work at Ground Zero with the very best care and the opportunity to apply for disability benefits.” Along with this bill, the Governor signed an additional health care-related bill into law that will improve consumer access to information from physicians and will enhance infection control measures. NYDIS, NYCOSH, and the UCC have been successfully advocating for the past two years for the extension of these benefits.

Read the August 7 press release:
:: Mayor Bloomberg Urges Congress to Provide Long-Term 9/11 Health Treatment

On July 31, Mayor Bloomberg addressed Congress concerning the federal response to the need for a long-term treatment program for people whose health was affected by the toxic debris at Ground Zero after 9/11. Bloomberg told Congress that New York City plans to spend $100 million on 9/11-related health issues over the next three years. However, this effort will not be enough to meet the long-term needs of first responders and others who may become sick as a result of 9/11. He encouraged Congress to consider the James Zadroga Act, a plan proposed by New York legislators that would provide the needed funding at the national level. Some members of Congress are concerned that the bill is too generous, although its writers have modified it to limit the number and type of people it would cover. Some proponents of the bill are concerned that there is little time left this year to pass it before campaign season takes Congress’s attention, but they hope that the seventh anniversary of 9/11 will push the bill through.

Read the AP article: click here
:: FBI and TSA Hold Terrorism and Transportation Conference in New York City

Hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Terrorism and Transportation Conference took place the week of July 28. Over 700 law enforcement personnel, intelligence professionals, and private sector officials attended the conference to consider the issues of terrorism and transportation. Speakers included NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly as well as representatives from TSA, Port Authority of NY/NJ, the United States Coast Guard, and the FBI. Panelists presented information about terrorism prevention, preparedness, and response. The presence of international law enforcement officials from Spain, the United Kingdom, and Japan at the event reflects the global importance of this issue. As TSA Administrator Kip Hawley noted, "Counter terrorism today is team activity."

Read the August 1 press release:
:: DHS Releases National Emergency Communications Plan

On July 31, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), the nation’s first strategic plan to support homeland security through improved communications during emergencies. The plan includes all levels of government and spans across all fields to facilitate clear and uniform communication. It outlines three communications goals involving the capacity of urban and non-urban areas to provide accurate internal and external messages during emergencies. These recommendations are consistent with the ones that are described in FEMA’s National Response Framework and the National Incident Management System.

Learn more about the plan in the DHS press release: click here
:: Elmhurst Hospital in Queens to Benefit from $30 Million CDC Grant

As a member of the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens will likely receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control’s recently announced $30 million grant. This grant will contribute to 9/11-health treatment for residents, workers, and students who were living or working in Lower Manhattan at the time of 9/11 and who are now experiencing health problems as a result. The WTC Environmental Health Center provides monitoring and treatment for physical and mental health problems related to the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. It encourages doctors to refer patients who are experiencing symptoms common to people who experienced 9/11 firsthand.

Read the July 31 article in the Queens Ledger: click here
:: Public-Private Partnerships Help Communities Recover from Disasters

Public-private partnerships are becoming increasingly important in a world where natural disasters occur on a regular basis. Organizations such as Business Executives for National Security (BENS) and the Aidmatrix Foundation are using their technological expertise to help communities recover from disasters like floods, fires, and hurricanes. By assisting in community-wide recovery efforts in addition to sustaining their own operations post-disaster, these organizations are bolstering economic recovery, which benefits themselves and consumers at once. For example, Shell Exploration & Production sponsored a social investment program after Katrina along the Gulf Coast, where most of their oil and gas production takes place. The program increased economic activity in ways that benefited their employees, their customers, and their company. A non-profit example is the Aidmatrix Foundation, which used its information technology resources to help match donations with needs after the Midwest flooding in June.

Read more in the July 7 article in Business Week: click here
:: FEMA Releases Draft of its National Disaster Housing Strategy

On July 21, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the draft of its National Disaster Housing Strategy, a document that describes the principles and strategies that guide the disaster housing process. It provides guidelines about how to engage all levels of government, as well as the private and non-profit sectors, in a disaster housing effort that will ensure individual and community needs are met efficiently. The National Disaster Housing Strategy also calls for the creation of a Disaster Housing Task Force, which will strategize and develop disaster housing plans. The 60-day comment period for the document began on July 23.

Read the press release from FEMA: click here

From Our Members & Partners

  • DOHMH Offers NYC 9/11 Benefit Program for Mental Health and Substance Use

    The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is offering a new benefit for NYC residents who were impacted by 9/11 and who are experiencing mental health and substance use problems as a result. The NYC 9/11 Benefit Program for Mental Health and Substance Use provides free or low-cost insurance, easy enrollment, and flexible treatment choices for people exhibiting the symptoms of a mental illness since 9/11. Common symptoms include anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and increased drug or alcohol use.

    For an overview of the program: http://nyc.gov/html/doh/wtc/html/mhb/mhb.shtml

    To speak to someone who can help, call:


  • Sikh Coalition Releases its Second Quarterly Report Card for TSA

    In October 2007, the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) responded to the Sikh Coalition’s human rights advocacy work by revising its screening procedures for Sikh turbans. To monitor TSA’s progress in implementing these procedures, the organization has collected reports from Sikh travelers about their experiences going through airport security. From these reports, it has produced a TSA Report Card which outlines its findings, educates Sikhs about their rights during screening, and provides additional suggestions for TSA as they carry on their work to put the procedures into practice across the country. The Sikh Coaltion encourages Sikhs to continue to report their airport experiences to ensure that their rights are respected.

    Read the Sikh Coalition’s TSA Report Card: click here
  • Sikh Coalition Organizes March to Protect Sikh Children

    On June 30, over 300 Sikhs from across the country gathered in Queens to march through the streets of Richmond Hill in protest of recent hate crimes in New York City schools. In early June, two Sikh children were attacked in their schools because of their faith. One student was punched in the face after someone tried to remove his patka (smaller turban), while another student’s long hair was cut off. In response to these incidents, the Sikh Coaltion organized this civil rights march which ended at Richmond Hill High School, the site of the former attack. Their work has led the Department of Education to begin to respond to the bias that these children face in school by incorporating the Sikh Coalition’s recommendations into its regulations and educational materials about bias. The DOE also intends to expand its incident reporting system in order to better track incidents of bias.

    Read the June 30 press release: click here

    Read “Making Our Voices Heard: A Civil Rights Agenda for New York City Sikhs”: click here

    Visit the Sikh Coalition’s website:

Preparedness Initiatives

  • NYDIS Preparedness Resources

    • Is Your House of Worship Registered with HOWCALM®?

      NYDISnet Available to NYC faith communities and houses of worship, NYDIS has developed HOWCALM®, a free, secure, web-based database system for managing faith-based assets in times of crisis. By tracking the logistics and resources of houses of worship, religious schools, and faith-based service providers, the system enhances preparedness, response capacity, and emergency planning efforts in NYC. Enrolling in HOWCALM® provides congregations with access to the emergency communication system as well as disaster training opportunities. It also enhances NYDIS’s ability to work in partnership with OEM and human service agencies in their emergency planning and preparedness efforts.

      For more information download the brochure on pdf: click here

      To register your House of Worship: click here
  • Preparedness for Diverse Communities

    • Emergency Preparedness Resources for Culturally Diverse Communities
      Developed by the Drexel University School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equality, the National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities is the first online center designed to improve communication, advance preparedness efforts, and increase resilience among racially and ethnically diverse communities. It aims to eliminate disparities in the emergency preparedness and recovery capabilities of these communities through information-sharing and networking. The National Resource Center includes training curricula, research tools, public health emergency news, and translated materials. Its exceptional new e-newsletter provides subscribers with new resources, events, and updates concerning public health and emergency preparedness for diverse communities.

      Visit the National Resource Center:

      Subscribe to the free e-newsletter:
  • Heat Preparedness

    • NYC Department for the Aging Offers Free Air Conditioners to Seniors
      Heat waves kill more Americans each year than all other kinds of natural disaster combined. To reduce preventable heat-related deaths, the NYC Department for the Aging’s 2008 Cooling Assistance Program offers free air conditioners to seniors over the age of 60 who are at risk for heat-related illnesses. Eligibility requirements include living in a private home or apartment with at least one person who has an acute medical condition.

      For more information, guidelines, and an application: click here

      For information about heat-related morbidity and mortality: click here

    • Extreme Heat Safety Tips
      The New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM) offers a list of important pointers for staying safe during periods of extreme heat. These tips include staying out of the sun, keeping living spaces well-ventilated, drinking lots of water, and looking out for neighbors, especially senior citizens. The resource also describes symptoms and basic treatments of common heat illnesses including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. In addition, it explains the health effects of exposure to ozone, a major component of smog. Children are especially vulnerable to these effects.

      Learn more about staying safe in the heat:
  • Pandemic Influenza Preparedness

    • NYDIS Resources Featured in ASTHO Pandemic Flu Planning Guide
      The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the national nonprofit organization that represents state and territorial public health agencies of the United States, released a pandemic flu planning guide called the At-Risk Populations Project. This project aims to provide guidance for local and state public health officials as they plan to protect at-risk populations during a pandemic flu outbreak. Two NYDIS resources, HOWCALM® and NYDISnet, are featured as best practices in faith-based risk communication and asset management. HOWCALM® is listed as a resource in Chapter 1, page 14. NYDIS’s
      e-communications resources, NYDISnet and NYDISnet Alerts, are featured in Chapter 3, page 22.

      To download the whole guide or individual chapters: click here

    • Human-to-Human Transmission of Bird Flu Suspected in China
      China’s National Disease Authority has confirmed that a man in China has been infected with the H5N1 strain of the influenza virus after his son died of the disease. This incidence has led to concerns about the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus. H5N1, an especially virulent and lethal strain of the virus that is found mostly in birds, could potentially pass quickly between people, even though it does not pass easily from birds to humans. So far, none of the 69 people who came in contact with the men who were infected have shown signs of the disease, a fact which suggests that even if the virus passed from son to father, it is likely not a highly contagious strain.

      Read the July 19 article:

    • Positive Outlook for DNA Vaccine against Pandemic Flu
      Inovio Biomedical Corporation has announced the pre-clinical results from two DNA-based broad-spectrum vaccine candidates intended to protect against pandemic influenza. In laboratory tests, 100% of mice injected with the vaccines survived after being introduced to the H5N1 influenza virus. The mice showed only minor weight loss as a side effect. This kind of DNA-based vaccine varies from other vaccines because it can protect against multiple strains of the influenza virus. While strain-specific vaccines protect against single types of the influenza virus, broad-spectrum vaccines target parts of the virus’s genome that are more stable and less likely to mutate.

      Read the July 16 article in Business Wire: click here
  • Public Health Preparedness

    • Bioterrorism Continues as Top Security Concern
      According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Bioterrorism's Threat Persists
      As Top Security Risk,” the federal government has spent nearly $50 billion to develop programs that confront the threat of bioterrorism. Even so, bioterrorism remains a taxing concern for the security of the United States. Biological attacks are difficult to detect, and some major challenges that would come along with one include distributing drugs to protect against a specific threat as well as processing high volumes of victims who need medical care. New York City has made large strides to improve its capacity to detect and respond to such an attack. It currently employs a system of sensors that can detect the presence of a lethal pathogen. If a sensor is activated, officials plan to quickly begin distributing drugs that will protect against the pathogen. The article stresses that even such a cutting-edge system has its weaknesses, and the country still has far to go in its bioterrorism prevention strategies.

      Read the August 4 article in the Wall Street Journal:

    • GAO Report: States Are Planning for a Medical Surge
      The Government Accountability Office released a June 2008 report concerning states’ ability to respond to an influx of patients needing care after a mass casualty. The report examines what states are doing to prepare, what the federal government is doing to help them prepare, and what concerns have arisen during the preparations. Most states have begun to plan for such a surge by following guidelines from the federal government and by using the federal money allocated to them. The report outlines the challenges and concerns that states face as they continue to meet the government’s guidelines about preparing for a surge. States have requested guidance about the critical issue of how to distribute scarce resources during an emergency.

      Read the June 2008 GAO Report:
  • Special Needs Preparedness

    • Heat Safety for Special Needs Populations
      NYC OEM and the NYC Department for Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) have created a heat safety tip sheet for service providers who work with special needs populations. Risk factors for heat-related illnesses include being over the age of 65 or under the age of 4, having a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, and taking certain medications. The tip sheet outlines these and other risk factors. It offers ideas for preparing clients for periods of extreme heat as well as for reaching out to clients during such periods.

      Read the tip sheet:

We Recommend

  • The Interfaith Manual by the Rev. Dr. Stephen Albert

    A compilation of the beliefs and thoughts of 12 different faiths, including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Judaism, Islam, New Thought, and Sikhism, this manual is the first of its kind. Well-received at the 2008 North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) conference in San Francisco, the manual is an excellent resource for classes and workshops, as well as for general reference. It offers each faith’s perspective on 40 topics as well as its general customs and traditions. It was edited by religious leaders from all 12 of the faiths it covers.

    Order The Interfaith Manual: click here
  • Read the Article, “Be prepared for disasters"

    In Kim Painter’s July 20 article in USA Today, titled “Be prepared for disasters,” she describes the lack of preparedness in America in 2008. In spite of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, as well as awareness of other recent disasters, most American households have no emergency kits or disaster plans. Painter recognizes the difficulties that Americans find with preparedness guidelines, such as the financial hardship of having to purchase respirators and face masks to prepare for pandemic flu, but she encourages taking inexpensive, quick, and important steps, like planning how families will contact each other in an emergency and locating the emergency supplies already in the home.

    Read the article:
  • View Psycho-Social Risk Communications Resources

    In June, the NY State Health Department hosted a series of Psycho-Social Risk Communications & Mass Mortality Workshops for Faith Leaders. With a focus on how to communicate in ways people will understand and remember during high-stress situations, the workshops featured experts who served in the risk communications field during such disasters as the Oklahoma City bombing, the 1998 shootings at Columbine High School, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. The slides from the workshops are now available online.

    View the resources from the workshops:

    If you have questions, contact:
    Katie Schafer
  • Visit the "Innovations in Effective Compassion" Website

    Developed as part of the “Innovations in Effective Compassion” National Conference, held at the White House on June 26 and 27, this website provides viewers with research, evaluations, practical tools, and other resources related to the work of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Some examples of materials on the site include the “Targeting Human Needs Profiles,” which reflect the partnership between the government and non-profits to address pressing problems like homelessness, addiction, and AIDS.

    Visit the site:

Save The Date

  • 6th Annual International Emergency Preparedness Symposium

    September 10
    8:30 am – 4:30 pm
    32 Old Slip
    Goldman Sachs Training Center

    The New York Downtown Hospital is holding its 6th Annual International Emergency Preparedness Symposium to bring together specialists from across the country and world to share their experience and learn from other emergency preparedness professionals. This year’s topics include Response to Urban Construction Disasters, Medical and Public Health Readiness for Catastrophic Events, and Update on Health Status of 9/11 Workers. The conference also will explore emergency preparedness and response as they relate to recent events in China, Burma, and Iraq.

    For more information: click here
  • 9/11 Interfaith Unity Walk

    September 14
    5:00 pm
    Battery Park by the 9/11 Memorial

    Sponsored by Religions for Peace – USA, the 9/11 Interfaith Unity Walk aims to bring people of different faiths and cultures together to demonstrate unity, peace, and shared hope. The walk will begin by the 9/11 Memorial in Battery Park and will continue up through the Financial District, with a brief stop by Ground Zero for a flower ceremony. The closing ceremony will take place at St. Peter’s Catholic Church at 22 Barclay Street.

    See the flyer on the website: click here

    For more information, contact Claire:

Job & Volunteer Opportunities

  • Emergency Response System Specialist, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

    The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) is looking to hire an individual with strong project management, organizational, communication, and presentation skills to help coordinate and implement their Emergency Response System. The job includes interaction with department heads, senior managers, and other critical staff in a multidisciplinary effort to support and develop ERS goals and projects. Other duties include coordinating and supporting departments in Business Continuity planning, creating and presenting training materials, and designing emergency drills.

    For more information, read the job description: click here
  • Technical Writer for Contract Work, CUNY School of Professional Studies

    The CUNY School of Professional Studies is collaborating with the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to prepare training materials for NYC’s Coastal Storm Plan. They are seeking a technical writer who is able to translate emergency response plans into reader-friendly field guides. The contract will begin no later than the end of August.

    For more information or to apply, contact:
    Project Director
  • NYDIS, AmeriCorps*VISTA Position

    NYDIS’s AmeriCorps*VISTA program engages VISTA members at NYDIS and partnering sub-site agencies in capacity-building activities that enhance and expand disaster preparedness and recovery services for low-income communities. The ultimate goal is to build a culture of preparedness by increasing and improving faith-based disaster and emergency programs, thereby reducing the vulnerability of under-served, marginalized populations.

    We currently are seeking a VISTA Leader who will support NYDIS’s VISTA program. A detailed position description is attached below.

    VISTA Leader: click here

    For more information, contact:
    Amber Gibson

Make a Gift to NYDIS
  • Support NYDIS - Donate Online

    NYDISnetIf you'd like to make a donation to assist NYDIS in its mission of providing faith-based disaster services, click here, or send a check to NYDIS at 22 Cortlandt Street, 20th Fl., New York, NY 10007. NYDIS is a 501(c)(3) corporation and contributions are 100% tax deductible. It is a great way to honor or memorialize someone and we will send an acknowledgement of your gift.

    To donate online, go to the NYDIS homepage and click "Make a Donation":


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