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Higher Ground Seeks Volunteers To Help Spruces Residents
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
09:39AM / Friday, December 23, 2011
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Tropical Storm Irene caused massive flooding at the Spruces Mobile Home Park. Higher Ground was formed to help the residents get back on their feet.
Updated: Friday, Dec. 23 at 4:30 p.m.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Higher Ground is seeking volunteer case managers to help displaced families from the Spruces Mobile Home Park.

Higher Ground was formed to help Spruces residents who were displaced from their homes because of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Case managers will help those residents navigate the federal Emergency Management Agency, state building codes, lodging and personal placement processes as well as provide emotional support and intervention.

"We really see ourselves as partners with the people," Susan Puddester, who is heading the case manager effort, said on Friday. "There are still a lot of people that have not made permanent arrangements."

The case managers, who will work in pairs, meet with a case management supervisor and are encouraged to attend Higher Ground's weekly meetings but there is no minimum amount of hours expected nor is any prior experience needed. The managers will be the go-to person to for needs - both minor and major.

"You can take on as many cases as you want," Puddester said. "It's really even hard to say how much time [a case] was take... sometimes the residents just need one thing."

Higher Ground already has about 10 case managers currently working with residents at the Spruces and Puddester said she hopes to double that number with eight to 10 more.

The managers will be dispatched based on referrals to Higher Ground. Residents who would like to work with a case manager would need to contact Higher Ground.

While the group has primarily been involved with the residents at the Spruces, the case managers will work with anybody in the Northern Berkshires who suffered loses from the storm. The manager will be attend a free disaster relief training in Bennington, Vt. on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10 to learn about the resources and how to understand the storm victim's struggles.

To volunteer contact Susan Puddester at 410-562-6022.

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