VOICES helps families heal after tragedy, a vital mission that began after 9/11. Today, the organization continues to address the long-term needs of those impacted by 9/11, while helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from other acts of mass violence and disasters.
Most plans to assist those impacted by mass violence focus exclusively on the short-term response, essentially assuming that "time heals all wounds."
VOICES believes that this view is insufficient. Over time, victims lose support from friends, family and the community. However, for many, the hard work of healing continues. That is why VOICES believes that providing long-term support services is essential.
Since 2001, our social work staff has worked closely with those impacted by mass violence. They have developed programs that promote resiliency and address the evolving needs of victims' families and survivors.
How VOICES Began
Voices of September 11th began informally in October 2001 when Mary Fetchet, a social worker who lost her 24 year-old son, Brad, and Beverly Eckert, an insurance executive who lost her husband, Sean Rooney, met at a gathering of Connecticut families. They soon recognized the challenges the families faced in obtaining accurate information and navigating complicated systems to identify resources and financial support.
Along with representatives of other 9/11 organizations, they met with government leaders. They learned about the plans for the Victim Compensation Fund, commemoration plans at the World Trade Center site and the recovery of remains, and they shared that information with the families.
In September 2002, a certificate of incorporation was filed. The first VOICES office opened in New Canaan, Connecticut in December, 2002. A satellite office was opened in New Brunswick, New Jersey on August 31, 2009 to provide assistance to the 9/11 community, including the families of New Jersey's 706 victims and thousands of rescue workers and survivors. Since its beginnings, VOICES has evolved to meet the ongoing needs of the 9/11 community, developing support services and educational programs based on the ongoing assessment of our members. The newsletter informs over 16,000 registered members living in the United States and abroad. The work of the organization has included:
- Distribution of information via emails and newsletters
- Advocacy on a wide range of issues relevant to the 9/11 community
- In person and teleconference support groups and focus groups
- Anxiety and depression screenings
- Annual Information Forums on September 10th
- Annual Commemorative Luncheon on September 11th
- Interfaith Services
- 9/11 Living Memorial Project
- Publication of the "Always Remember" 10th Anniversary Commemorative Book
- Annual Resiliency Symposium
- Publication of Preparing for After Resource Kit
- Launched "Enroll One More," a national campaign designed to build awareness of the World Trade Center Health Program among 9/11 responders and survivors.
Meeting the Evolving Needs
Since 9/11, VOICES has developed expertise in providing a wide range of support services that promote resiliency and ensures continuity of care for those affected. Our mission has now expanded to share our 15 years of expertise to assist other communities impacted by mass violence and natural disasters. In 2014, we launched the VOICES Center of Excellence for Community Resilience to help communities heal after other tragedies. The Center works collaboratively with our public and private partners to share our lessons learned and best practices in preparing for and responding to traumatic events.