Local group leaders meet to discuss helping community following shootings

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Leaders from more than a dozen local organizations gathered today to talk about how they can help out following the tragic events of this week.

The United Way of the Valley and the Greater Utica Area convened a meeting of health and human service providers to discuss how they can help long-term.

Congressman Richard Hanna and Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney attended the meeting in person. "What was really impressive today was our elected official came and they listened. They really did not direct the conversation in any way they were here to hear," said Brenda Episcopo of The United Way. "they said- we get numerous calls from people who need help and want to talk and we are the ones linking them up many times with services so they were appreciative of the opportunity to hear all of the service providers that are ready and available to respond to those needs."

Episcopo says the groups want to make sure the community is not negatively effected by the tragedy. They talked about setting up community meetings where people can talk about what happened this week. "What we did talk about in general was people's need to talk about what happened, even if they weren't there when it happened." said Episcopo. "A lot of people are effected whether it was children locked down at school for the day or parents fearful to send their children to school. People have a general need to process and talk about how they felt in the moment and how they are feeling now."

They also want to avoid providing duplicate services and figure out what to do in the future.

The Herkimer Oneida Organizations Active in Disasters (HOOAD) is a group working to determine the emergency needs of the area. "One of the things they are doing is looking at other communities effected like this," said Episcopo. "And i think a lot of people will be looking toward those communities to find out what has worked well because right now we're only guessing so based on what's happened in other communities how can we help out the community-at-large."

This is just the first of many meetings the leaders of these organizations plan to have.

Many people are asking how they can donate to the families of the victims. While there are many fundraisers set up, the group is in the process of setting up an official one.

Representatives from the following agencies were in attendance:

Department of Social Services
Office of Aging
American Red Cross
Local funeral directors
Boy Scouts
Catholic Charities
Center for Family Life and Recovery
Neighborhood Center
Salvation Army
Legal Aid
and many more

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