From the Worldwide Faith News archives

UMCOR program begins for 9-11 victims

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Mon, 3 Jun 2002 15:03:29 -0500

June 3, 2002       News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212) 870-38037New York

NEW YORK (UMNS) - A $5 million program focusing on assistance to victims of
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks begins full-fledged operations in June.

Established by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the case management
program receives its financial support from the denomination's "Love in the
Midst of Tragedy" fund, which was a response to the attacks.

The Rev. Ramon Nieves, a United Methodist pastor from Chicago, began work as
program director in May. He previously was regional administrator of the
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for Cook County. A
financial director, project director and support staff member are also on
board, and Nieves is in the process of hiring at least two case managers.

The program is temporarily based at 475 Riverside Drive, the headquarters of
the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, but Nieves said he is
negotiating for office space in the Ground Zero area.

"We are 90 percent operable right now," he told United Methodist News
Service in a May 30 interview. He expects to open 100 cases by the end of

The program's goal is to work with local United Methodist congregations, the
denomination's New York Annual (regional) Conference and other community
agencies to provide assistance to local families impacted by the events of
Sept. 11. Because of more flexible guidelines than some similar programs,
the staff can start responding to the needs of those families within 48
hours, Nieves said. 

Some clients will have been directly affected by Sept. 11 because they or a
family member worked at the World Trade Center, while others are suffering
from the economic fallout of the attacks. A recent government survey of
employers shows the city has about 107,000 fewer jobs than a year ago,
according to the June 2 New York Times. The biggest losses have been in
business services, brokerage firms, air transportation and food service.

Another concern that will be addressed by the program, according to Nieves,
is the undocumented workers of all ethnic groups "who are so afraid to come
forward" because of their ethnicity or legal status. "People are much more
open to approaching the church for service than the government," he

Satellite offices in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, where case managers
will work for several hours on a weekday or weekend to process new cases,
will "allow us to approach these individuals who are afraid or cannot
travel," Nieves added.

He is skeptical about the notion that the economy is in recovery and
believes there will be a long-term impact because of Sept. 11, especially
for immigrants who were cab drivers or restaurant workers or in other
service occupations. "A lot of people have been waiting for the same job, at
a different place, for months," he said.

Nieves expects the program to handle 200 to 400 cases within its first year.
"We are not about just giving out money," he said. "We are about a long-term

More information about the program is available by calling (212) 870-3772.

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United Methodist News Service
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