Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WNY is #BostonStrong!

One week ago Monday, explosions rocked the finish line at the Boston Marathon. We've all seen the news coverage of these tragic events, from the bombings to the manhunts to the vigils. Clearly, this has been a difficult week for the entire Boston community, and the Red Cross has been there to support that community since the bombings. And Western New York is here to support the Red Cross.

Yes, I said here. I flew in on Friday to support the local Public Affairs team. I must say it was surreal to watch TV on the plane to see the city I was about to land in was on lockdown. But any hesitation I may have had about coming in to that situation was quickly dashed when I got to the headquarters and got a feel for the amazing work being done to support this community. In the past week, over 200 Red Cross workers have served nearly 20,000 meals and snacks, handed out hundreds of relief items such as blankets and comfort kits, and perhaps most importantly have made over 2,200 health and mental health services. Here's a story I wrote about some of the dozens of Boston area social workers, psychologists and other clinicians who have taken the training and become Red Cross Disaster Mental Health workers in the past week, and have already begun doing some amazing work helping this community heal emotionally following the events of April 15.

Tara Hughes shares coping tips with WCVB-TV viewers
outside a makeshift memorial set up near the Marathon
Bombing scene at Boylston and Berkeley
And who's in charge of the Disaster Mental Health operations during the Boston Marathon relief efforts? Our very own Tara Hughes of Amherst. Tara arrived last Tuesday--"I missed my flight Monday," she says--and has been leading this vital part of the response ever since. She worked to set up a Family Assistance Center to support victims and their families, and has helped lead Disaster Mental Health workers out into the community to support area residents during these trying times. She's put together tips for coping with stressful situations in the aftermath of the bombings, and woke up bright and early Monday morning to share some tips with viewers of Boston's ABC affiliate, WCVB. She also spoke of the importance of this emotional support at a press conference I helped arrange to announce that some of these Red Cross coping tips are going to be posted on subway cars throughout the area, thanks to the generosity of The Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

L-R: Red Cross of Eastern MA CEO Jarrett Barrios and
Emergency Services Director Leighton Jones stand with
Tara Hughes holding coping tips that will be
posted on Boston subway trains during
a photo with the Boston Herald 

When I checked into the hotel, who should I find as my roommate but Dominic DiGirolamo. While it's been nice to talk about the Sabres and Bills with someone here, the really nice thing has been hearing about the amazing work he has been doing supporting the families of those affected by the bombings. I can't share the details because it wouldn't be fair to the clients, but just know WNY should be proud of the work he is doing here.

It's not just here in Boston. The Red Cross is helping people after an explosion in West, Texas and flooding throughout the Midwest. And of course, Western New Yorkers are on the way to help, with Diane Sargent heading to Chicago and Tom LeBeau on the way to West. So while we're all #BostonStrong, we're also with everyone dealing with difficult situations all across the country.

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