NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the challenges of the pandemic recovery and the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11, a nonprofit is generously making sure our intrepid first responders get the support they need year-round.

Throughout the pandemic, our first responders put their own health and the health of their families on the line to care for the rest of us.

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“They would say to us, ‘We’ve seen 13 DOA — dead on arrivals — on one shift,'” said Jillian Crane, president of the First Responders Children’s Foundation. “And then going into the hospitals and saying, hearing the nurses, it’s like a 9/11 every day.”

Crane recalls conversations with first responders during the worst of COVID.

“It’s had a huge toll, and we’ve noticed more and more that there are mental health repercussions,” Crane told CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock.

Wednesday, the First Responders Children’s Foundation announced its Mental Health and Behavioral Program.

Multiple local organizations will receive grants totaling $100,000.

Some of the money went to the FDNY Foundation. Commission Daniel Nigro calls it a wonderful act of generosity that honors the men and women who witnessed loss day after day.

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“They responded to more calls per day than ever before,” Nigro said.

NYPD Deputy Inspector Kenneth Quick explains that in 2019, the NYPD created a Health and Wellness sector in response to a spike in suicides. The grant received Wednesday will help the New York City Police Foundation create a new health and wellness center, walls built to break down barriers.

“It’ll send a strong message to the members of the NYPD that it’s OK to not be OK,” Quick said.

Nancy Carbone, founder and executive director of Friends of Firefighters, says the money will go right into counseling.

“We actually had to hire an additional two counselors through COVID,” she said.

She expects to hire more in the near future to meet the growing need for mental health support.

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Vanessa Murdock