From 9/11 to today, VOICES has been helping families and communities heal after tragedy, The organization’s 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. That is why VOICES believes that providing long-term support services is essential.
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. In 2020, VOICES Wolfgruber Institute was formed to advance mental health studies, research and resources to promote healing and community resilience. In response to the pandemic, VOICES initiated their Coronavirus Response Program to provide support and guidance for families and communities, including COVID-19 Tip Sheets, community support groups, and webinars led by subject matter experts.