The 2010 BP oil spill was not only tragic for the environment, it also had devastating consequences for Gulf Coast families. Like the single father, struggling to feed his sons after the spill stripped him of his livelihood as a fisherman. Or the seventh-grade boy, already plagued by problems at home, falling into a deeper depression over the environmental effects of the spill.
These families and others like them have found resilience and coping strategies through the Mercy Community Hope Project – an initiative of Mercy Family Center. Funded by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, this unique outreach program assists adults and children (age 10 and up) in parishes directly affected by the oil spill. Through weekly group sessions, participants learn skills needed to face adversity and reduce risk behaviors.
Mercy Community Hope Project participants report lowered depression and anxiety levels, along with improved levels of confidence. The single father received mental health services and is back fishing. And the seventh-grade boy, applying his newfound skills, has been rewarded with improved schoolwork and enhanced personal relationships.
To date, more than 600 individuals have benefitted from Mercy Project Hope.