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NJ addresses economic needs


"We want to make sure we're there for the 'ripple effect' folks -- the ones who are losing their jobs because of this tragedy."

—Cathy McCann

With some estimates stating that almost 40 percent of the workers in the World Trade Center were from New Jersey, the state's Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are busy getting their own interfaith task force together.

Representatives from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Adventist Community Services, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, and local clergy attended the meeting Friday.

Joann Hale, a Church World Service disaster resource facilitator, said the meeting was a strategizing and planning meeting about who should be part of the group and what their focus should be.

The group is still very much in its beginning stages, said Hale, but everyone is very positive about where it will go. "These are all really good people," she said. "It's just great, this is why we're here."

Cathy McCann, chair of the New Jersey VOAD, said these meetings are meant to keep everyone together during recovery efforts. "We want to work together and share information so that there's no duplication of efforts," she said. "It's important to have all groups together helping out."

McCann is also the Vice President of Operations for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. She said since the attacks, they've been busier than ever. "In the first ten days, we had over 4,000 people in here for help," said McCann. She said they've also been helping The Salvation Army keep rescue workers at Ground Zero fed each day.

Volunteers have also been turning out in droves, said McCann. "We've had families in here each day making sandwiches, our numbers have really gone up," she said.

McCann said there may be as many as 2,000 people from New Jersey missing or dead after the attacks in New York. "We also want to make sure we're there for the 'ripple effect' folks -- the ones who are losing their jobs because of this tragedy," said McCann. "We want to be able to point them in the right direction for help."

A working group of certain members of the New Jersey interfaith group will meet again this week. The next full meeting will be Oct. 29. Until then, said Hale, "everyone is making sure we're asking more people from churches and organizations to be at the full meeting."

"We're hoping for 50 to 60 people at the next meeting," added McCann.

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