From 9/11 to today, VOICES has been helping families and communities heal after tragedy. Our mission is to assist communities preparing for and recovering from tragedy, and provide long-term support and resources that promote mental health care and wellness, for victims’ families, responders and survivors.
Most plans to assist those impacted by tragedy 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 – which is why VOICES understands providing long-term support services is essential.
In 2002, VOICES was formed to create a new paradigm in supplying services that provided continuity of care for those impacted by traumatic event. The organization became a central clearinghouse of information to help navigate a myriad of issues and access to resources – while advocating with other family members on the behalf of those impacted. Most importantly, VOICES recognized that individuals impacted by traumatic events grieve differently, and in their own time, and some need more assistance than others. Social work practices permeate our work and the services we provide, and our programs are developed based on an ongoing assessments of the community’s evolving needs.
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 founding, 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 work of the organization has included:
- Distribution of information via emails, newsletters, and social media
- 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 Resiliency Symposiums on September 9
- Annual Information Forums on September 10
- Annual Commemorative Luncheon on September 11
- Interfaith Services
- 9/11 Living Memorial Project
- Publication of the "Always Remember" 10th Anniversary Commemorative Book
- Publication of Preparing for After Resource Kit
- Assisting thousands of survivors and responders in accessing medical and mental health treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program
Meeting the Evolving Needs
Since 2002, VOICES has provided long-term mental health support and a wide range of programs for all those impacted by 9/11. Today, VOICES Center for Resilience is equally committed to leveraging our expertise to assist all communities impacted by any tragedy.
Recognizing families impacted by tragedy live around the country and around the world, in 2003, VOICES began hosting teleconference groups facilitated by social workers to connect peer-to-peer groups – family members, survivors and responders with each other.
In 2020, the Wolfgruber Digital Resource Library was formed to advance mental health studies, research and resources to promote healing and community resilience. In response to the pandemic, VOICES initiated the Coronavirus Response Program to provide support and guidance for families and communities. This initiative included COVID-19 Tip Sheets, community support groups, and webinars & workshops led by subject matter experts. Soon after, we also developed VOICES Tip Sheets Following Traumatic Events, addressing acts of violence, social or civil unrest, or domestic terrorism.