Volume 16 • Issue 54 | June 4 - 10, 2004

Religious group center across from the W.T.C.

By David H. Ellis

The faith-based organization New York Disaster Interfaith Services, which has been involved in assisting victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center, dedicated a disaster resources and training center to the Manhattan law firm Chadbourne & Parke on May 25th following a series of donations by the company over the past two years.

“This space is really a dream that many of us have had for about two years now,” said Peter Gudaitis, executive director and C.E.O. of New York Disaster Interfaith Services, which coincided with his group’s move into their new space at 22 CortlandtSt.

“The city’s faith based communities really have never had a mechanism for coordinated efforts in disaster recovery. Since that was so essential following 9/11, it seemed that there needed to be a great deal of preparedness and long term training and coordination that needed to be available for future disasters.”

N.Y.D.I.S., a coalition of faith-based charity and disaster service organizations, has received over $50,000 in donations from the law firm, which helped fund the equipment for the center and cover part of the leasing fees. The organization and its related group, the NYC 9/11 Unmet Needs Roundtable, have provided further aid from Chabourne & Parke to disaster victims who might not qualify. The center will be shared with several other September 11th support groups including the 9-11 Widows and Victims’ Family Association.

Lutheran Disaster Response of New York, which has provided counseling to individuals affected by the events of September 11th, will share the resources in the space on the 20th floor that looks directly over the World Trade Center site.

The group’s executive director, Dr. John J. Scibilia, believes this donation is about the ongoing disaster recovery process. “What I think this does is bring like-minded faith based organizations together, and we are able to collaborate and leverage each others strengths and traditions in a way that will benefit hidden victims in any disaster,” said Scibilia. “We don’t run into burning buildings but we are here when everyone else pulls their tents up.”

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