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Pressing Infrastructure Needs Have Obscured Emotional Needs of Kids & Families; Community Groups Combine Resources to Provide Opportunity for Healing

Recognizing that the emotional recovery of children and families impacted by Sandy is as significant as the rebuilding of the physical infrastructure, a collaborative effort of community groups in Monmouth County have joined together to sponsor “The Starfish Project: A Community Event for Children and Families” on February 10, 2013, from 3 to 6 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Manasquan. The title of the event is inspired by the ability of starfish to regenerate lost parts and conveys what Marney Rohda, coordinator of the event, says is the resiliency and healing focus of the day.

Rohda explains that the idea for the day originated when Maureen Underwood, nationally recognized expert on group interventions for children after disasters, local mental health professionals with experience in assisting families recover from traumatic events and staff from Manasquan High School met to discuss the recovery needs of students and families in the aftermath of the hurricane that devastated the Jersey coast in October. This initial group reached out to the larger community to create this event which will bring together children and families from Manasquan and the surrounding communities to reflect on their experiences and the personal skills that can help in long-term recovery.

The day will consist of special activities that help family members realize that just surviving the storm took bravery and courage. There will also be a shared meal and the opportunity to learn about local resources. Registration is limited so families are encouraged to register for the event as soon as possible at

In addition to the activities of that day, organizers are also sponsoring a multi-media contest for elementary, middle, and high school students. Youth are encouraged to describe their storm experiences and what helped them get through in an essay, poem, poster, song, or video. Winners will be announced at the event and given cash prizes. Contest rules and entry forms are located at

In addition to Manasquan High School and Elementary School, sponsors of the event include the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, the Samaritan Center at the Jersey Shore, Squan Strong, Jersey Mike’s, The Atlantic Club, You Cannot Be Replaced, The Shore Community Alliance, the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County, Lighthouse Financial Advisors, Inc., the Churches of the Manasquan Area Ministerium and Brook 35 Plaza.