NJ Recovery Fund Update: Community Health & the Arts

April 22, 2014

Community Health

The New Jersey Recovery Fund supported grants to organizations that will provide mental health services and medical care in Ocean and Middlesex County.  These grants are being used to meet the high demands of services in these Sandy impacted areas frequently at no cost to the patients.  The services will address on going storm related stress in patients by offering counseling, improving community education tools to assist in the reduction of mental health stigma, and stationing a mobile command center equipped to be used for dental or medical examinations.

The Arts

Most Arts projects funded by NJRF focused on using the creative process to help communities and families recover personally from the trauma they experienced during the storm. The response to these programs has been outstanding, allowing our grantees to expand their offerings beyond what they initially envisioned.

Through its ArtHelps program, Monmouth County Arts Council (MCAC) is using various artistic endeavors, including mural painting, improvisational theater, film screenings, poetry readings, and painting workshops to help Sandy survivors process their experiences. MCAC is partnering with a variety of organizations and institutions, including Meridian Heathcare, to work with a diverse spectrum of people, ranging from young students to senior citizens in Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic Counties.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark held an event on the first anniversary of the storm entitled “Arts Take Action: Sandy One Year Later.” The event celebrated the resiliency of the state’s arts community in a program that reflected on the aftermath of the storm, commemorated the state’s recovery efforts, and discussed future planning and action to prevent further destruction. Three NJRF grantees were featured that evening. Atlantic City Ballet, Young Audiences of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey all performed samples of their funded projects, some including student performers. The event highlighted the role that the arts can play in helping disaster survivors heal and prosper.

Other arts projects funded by NJRF include:

  • The Atlantic City Ballet developed” In the Eye of The Storm,” an original, full-length ballet that explores the impact of nature on mankind and the resilience of spirit that enables people to overcome and transcend even the most devastating circumstances.
  • Young Audiences of New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania are providing arts experiences for school-aged children, their teachers and families, in order to comprehend loss, process memories and envision the future.  An example of the impact of this programming was captured in this article.
  • Arts Horizons’ ‘Table Talk’ project creates a unique public forum to engage community members in civic discourse and promote healing in the wake of Hurricane Sandy by placing collaboratively created “conference” tables (made from doors of damaged homes) in diverse neighborhoods throughout the Asbury Park area.