The residual impact of the Gulf oil spill continues to bring a tremendous amount of stress and concern to many living and working in south Louisiana. Every Tuesday morning, crisis counselors from the Louisiana Spirit program tell me stories about the fishermen, shrimpers, restaurant owners, families and small businesses that struggle to make ends meet.
The Louisiana Spirit team provides case management, crisis counseling and outreach for those impacted by the disaster. Another important role that the crisis counselors play is to serve as “workforce liaisons” in the field, introducing people to programs and services that might help them to find jobs and bring additional income into households.
Options For Independence, working in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) Office of Mental Health (OMH), provided crisis counseling and outreach services to people impacted by Hurricanes Lili and Isidore, Katrina and Rita, and Gustav and Ike. This crisis counseling recovery model became known as the “Louisiana Spirit” program, funded by FEMA and SAMHSA under the Stafford Act.
What is Louisiana Spirit?
Louisiana Spirit Coastal Recovery Counseling Program is a state-funded crisis counseling and stress management program for individuals, families and groups most affected by the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Funding is directed from the Department of Health and Hospitals/Office of Behavioral Health to the local Human Services Authorities to Options for Independence. Louisiana Spirit was designed in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to provide short-term behavioral health interventions and help individuals return to their pre-disaster levels of functioning. Today, Louisiana Spirit is still providing these post-disaster services, but has evolved and adapted to meet the needs of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Victims.
How are services delivered?
Through Options for Independence, Louisiana Spirit employs Licensed and Master’s level mental health professionals to provide both community-based and clinic-based counseling services. Louisiana Spirit also employs Resource Linkage Coordinators, Case Managers, and Workforce Liaisons. By subcontracting with our TRAC (Terrebonne Readiness and Assistance Coalition) and BISCO (Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing) partners, Louisiana Spirit is also able to utilize the services of Community Liaisons. It is the goal of Louisiana Spirit to provide services that are easily accessible, readily available, and that fit the specific needs of each community.
Louisiana Spirit’s workforce liaisons try to match the needs of individuals with opportunities that match their needs. Here’s a list of a few of the programs and services that are working closely with Louisiana Spirit and the individuals and families in need of counseling, job placement, employment training and certification, small business development solutions:
Goodwork Network - primary provider of business development services for the small community-based businesses that support families and sustain communities. Call 504-309-2073. Visit www.goodworknetwork.org.
Gulf Coast Marketplace– An online marketplace for hand-crafted items created by people living in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The mission of the Gulf Coast Marketplace is to contribute to community recovery by providing opportunities for economic growth and financial independence to individuals and families, especially those impacted by disaster. Visit www.thegulfcoastmarketplace.org
Of course, this is not a complete list. There are many, many people and organizations providing help. As I learn about them, I will try to introduce them to you and those in need through BayouResilience.com. Please share this info with anyone that needs help.
If you or your organization provides assistance for individuals, families and small businesses impacted by the oil spill and other disasters, please provide information in the “comments” section below. I would love to hear from you.