NJ interfaith group closes doors

Organization formed following Sept.11 falls victim to economy, dwindling funds for 9/11 response

BY MONICA OLIVAS | NEWARK, NJ | November 27, 2009

After nearly eight years of service, the New Jersey Interfaith Partnership for Disaster Recovery, also known as NJIPDR, closed its doors this summer, another organizational victim of an economy that has not been kind to faith-based nonprofits.

Originally formed in October 2001 to respond to the needs of New Jersey residents affected by September 11, NJIPDR helped residents with several flood disasters as well.

The group helped survivors of New Jersey disasters to cope with trauma, disabling injuries, unemployment, underemployment and more. This included undocumented survivors and those affected by racial, ethnic or religious bias. But the biggest needs were medical issues as a result of the terrorist attacks.

“It is mostly a medical need for recovery all sorts of respiratory and pre-cancerous conditions,” said Myles P. Varley former director of NJIPDR.

Many of the September 11 clean-up workers were undocumented workers, he explained.

“One of the difficulties is many of those people are undocumented. The work they were doing was very hazardous. Once they got sick didn’t qualify for public assistance,” said Varley.

NJIPDR helped more than 450 families, but it ran out of funding which had come primarily from other faith-based organizations which themselves had run out of donations for September 11 response or have had to cut back due to the economy. The organization’s Board of Trustees reluctantly voted to conclude active operations in July.

While the group has ceased active operations it is continuing to monitor phone calls from survivors of 9/11 and direct those with needs to other disaster response groups. Two former employees will continue as volunteers to monitor calls if someone needs a referral and they will also be mobilized as part of the state emergency management response in the event of a large disaster.

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