Mercy Corps efforts

Agency enlists Church in joint effort

NEW YORK — Crews in New York City are expected to spend months cleaning up the twisted metal and debris left behind from the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center towers. Community leaders may take even longer helping cope with the pain and trauma prompted by the tragedy.

New York community leaders exchange information.
New York community leaders exchange information. Photo: Photo courtsey LDS Family Services

Mercy Corps International — a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to offering hope, relief and counseling to trauma-afflicted families and children — recently enlisted the assistance of the Church in a joint effort to help victims. A team of Church employees from LDS Family Services — including Lyle Burrup, Nic Aste, William Cook and Chris Anderson — spent several weeks in New York City helping Mercy Corps establish "Comfort for Kids," a program to help New York children effectively manage fear, anger and grief.

The goal of "Comfort for Kids" is to provide support to those affected by the Sept. 11 tragedy, particularly in the immigrant, refugee and low-income communities lacking access to traditional resources and reluctant to seek help.

The Church workers spent much of their time organizing and hosting information exchange sessions with various community leaders and advocates. The community leaders were taught counseling skills and given materials designed to promote healing and tolerance and to guide parents, teachers and other child care providers.

Some courses included representatives from communities where English is not spoken as the primary language. Bilingual Church employees provided translation service.

Church members and full-time missionaries assisted Mercy Corps representatives in putting together 500 comfort kits for children. The kits included flashlights, art supplies and stuffed animals — items designed to help troubled children feel safe while encouraging them to understand their feelings about what has happened. The kits also included booklets to guide parents in helping their children.

Volunteers assemble Comfort for Kids kits at Church facilities.
Volunteers assemble Comfort for Kids kits at Church facilities. Photo: Photo by Lyman Kirkland

Griffen Jack, Mercy Corps project director, thanked Church members for their involvement and efficiency.

"There is a distinction between people of good will and those who are of good will and also know how to operate as a team," Ms. Jack said. "Working hand-to-hand with Church members, I understood how the Church's programs all fit together."

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