Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"They teach people about how to cope with stress and provide crisis intervention."

The NY Red Cross Chapter’s Disaster Mental Health Leadership Team is the recipient of 2010 Leadership Award. The work of the team’s nine volunteer members—Jill Bellison, Patricia Berliner, Dottie Brier, Linda Certo, Michael Cronin, Athena Drews, Eileen Dwyer, Fred Mazor and Mary Tramontin—is being recognized for its profound impact on the Chapter’s mission.

Red Cross mental-health volunteers are one of the cornerstones of the organization’s relief efforts. Recognizing how vital immediate counseling is to people experiencing disaster trauma, these workers provide on-the-spot emergency mental-health support, not just to people affected by disaster, but also to first responders and to Red Cross staff assigned to disaster relief operations. They’ve been there to support morale, lend an empathetic ear and offer counseling after fatal fires, airplane crashes, crane collapses, ice storms, hurricanes, floods and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They teach people about how to cope with stress and provide crisis intervention and appropriate referral services when necessary.

The Greater New York Chapter’s Mental Health Leadership Team had its genesis 15 years ago, when a small group of mental-health professionals in New York City developed a disaster mental-health program at the NY Red Cross modeled on one initiated by the National Red Cross two years earlier. Made up of clinical social workers and psychologists, this NY leadership team grew in volunteer membership over the next few years and was responsible for all aspects of the mental-health counseling until 2001, when a position for a staff mental-health professional was established.

Over time, “the compassionate leadership of these volunteers was reflected by the manner in which the mental-health program became integrated into Chapter activities and by the acceptance of the idea that a mental-health support model was helpful,” says Diane Ryan, NY Red Cross Director of Disaster Mental Health.

Amazingly, many of the team’s members have served for over a decade, including three of the team’s founding members—Patricia Berliner, Dottie Brier and Mary Tramontin—ensuring a 15-year span of consistency and quality service. The team continues to assist by collaborating on protocols; ensuring quality of client care; mentoring new volunteers at exercises and disaster sites; instructing disaster courses which have trained hundreds of additional mental-health volunteers; teaching Psychological First Aid to our regular volunteers; representing the Chapter at local, national and international mental health venues; sharing on-call responsibilities and covering for the director in her absence.

Recipents of the 2010 Leadership Award:
Jill Bellison from Manhattan, NY
Patricia Berliner from Queens, NY
Dottie Brier from Manhattan, NY
Linda Certo from Orange County, NY
Michael Cronin from Manhattan, NY
Athena Drews from Orange County, NY
Eileen Dwyer from Queens, NY
Fred Mazor from Bronx, NY
Mary Tramontin from Manhattan, NY


  1. Many congratulations and a big hello to Dottie (the person who trained me in DMH 10 years ago), Pat, Mary, Diane, Eileen and Michael!!

    Kat Hindmand

  2. Congratulation to Michael Cronin, Dottie Brier and the other recipents!

  3. Congratulations to the team - and especially to Michael Cronin for doing this work whilst also serving as International Federation of Social Workers Main Representative to the United Nations in New York. An inspirational example of volunteer commitment! Thanks Michael

    See also http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/usg/statements/conference-social-work-development

    David N Jones, IFSW Immediate Past President

  4. A program that is very much appreciated.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.