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Hurricane Sandy: A View From the Ground #2

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When Hurricane Sandy hit us, it was a huge disruption to our normal operating procedures, including a last-minute cancellation of our annual Howie the Harp Graduation Ceremony. In the interest of safety, it was necessary to make sure our well-deserving graduates and their guests were not put in harm’s way; my staff and I were able to contact every graduate on Sunday evening (10/28) - the day before the storm hit - in order to make sure they had proper information. Everyone was extremely grateful and understanding of the precautionary steps that were taken.

A photo from last year's Graduation Ceremony - always a highlight of the year for us at HTH.

Subsequent to the actual storm hitting, we were then able to contact current program participants to make sure they were safe, and to provide information concerning any resources they may have needed to keep them safe, secure, and warm. I learned during this outreach that our Peer Specialist training tools were being utilized by each and every individual: participants were contacting each other to make sure everyone was alright. Happily, as a result, we did not experience a single traumatic or psychiatric emergency during this extremely stressful period. 

Our partners from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the NYS Office of Mental Health were extremely helpful in getting the word out concerning emergency services that offered food, clothing, and shelter resources, as well as therapeutic supports to the mental health consumer community. And we also heard from our collaborators from Pameijer in The Netherlands who expressed their concern for our program, and wanted to wish us well. 

As the Director of Howie the Harp, this unified response to the storm made me extremely proud to work with such a wonderful group of staff and program participants, all of whom went above-and-beyond the call of duty to support each other. Even though we had many tough barriers to overcome, when the call went out that we were open I was pleased to see a full class ready to continue their training. It truly was wonderful to see, and, along with my HTH colleagues, I look forward to the day when we are able to announce the rescheduling of our Graduation Ceremony, too.


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