You've probably seen the public service announcements on television from New York State, urging people who just need to talk about the stresses of dealing with the ongoing pandemic to contact Project HOPE.  What you might not know is that, after several months of operations elsewhere in the state, the program has a local arm in the Southern Tier that just began in August.

Engin Aakyurt via Unsplash
Engin Aakyurt via Unsplash

This week on the local, weekly public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up, local Project HOPE coordinator Joann Fumaro talks just what is offered by the free service.

Callers or online contacts can get everything from just a sympathetic ear to connections with crisis counselors and services for situations that need more attention than the volunteer contacts can offer.

The program is also going into schools to help, not only the adults who have had to deal with the constant changes to regulation and protocols but also the children.  Fumaro says the children are often being overlooked with people thinking that, because they are young, they are fine with changes being thrown at them.


Fumaro says the local Project HOPE service is being run through the offices of the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier (MHAST), which has been working above the call of duty up to this point in offering crisis and non-crisis help for residents trying to navigate the ever-changing situations that have come since the start of the pandemic in March, 2020.

New York's Project HOPE is the state's COVID-19 emotional support helpline, and, as it is run under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Mental Health Services, Fumaro says the service does not promote or try to influence anyone's views on issues like vaccinations. She says, however, counselors can answer questions concerning vaccines and can help address anxiety that's been associated with the issue.

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The Project HOPE Hotline can be reached from 8 a.m. -10 p.m. weekdays at 1-8440863-9314.  The Broome County office is available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. at (607) 778-9075.

More information and online services can be found here.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Saturdays at 6:03 a.m. on News Radio 1290 WNBF and anytime on the WNBF podcast.

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